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Trailer time. (Sorry, being brief here – busy busy!)

  • 「シャニダールの花」 (Shanidaru no Hana/The Flower of Shanidar, Japan, 2013)

Dir. by Ishii Gakuryu.

I’ve been waiting for this trailer for a while already. It’s a strange little story, as you can already sense from the clip: a beautiful flower known as “Shanidar” blooms on the body of some young women. As the flower is precious – it contains a substance used for developing new drugs – the women on whose bodies it grows are kept and cared for in a laboratory. Strange though it may be, I have got enough reasons to watch: the film is directed by Ishii – him of the bizarre 「生きてるものはいないのか」(Ikiteru Mono Wa Inai No Ka/Isn’t Anyone Alive?, Japan, 2012) – and also stars Ayano Gou (who really nails pained looks). Shanidaru no Hana is set for a July release in Japan.

  • 「おしん」 (Oshin/Oshin, Japan, 2013)

Dir. by Togashi Shin.

Only a teaser for this one and the briefest of synopses: Oshin is a young girl who is forced to leave her own, poor relatives to work for another, higher-class family. The film is based on a drama of the same title that was screened on NHK some thirty (!) years ago and stars Hamada Kokone as Oshin. Both the fact that they dug up a story from so long ago and that the child actress was selected from a pool of almost 2500 applicants give me the impression that someone is putting a lot of care into this film – meaning it could well be good. We will have to wait (at least) until October 2013 to find out though.

  • 「イキガミ」 (Ikigami/Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit, Japan, 2008)

Dir. by Takimoto Tomoyuki.

Dramabeans regularly features “Name That Drama” posts, the most recent round including a request for a Japanese film. While I always miserably fail at providing any answers, it can be fun to read the request just to discover things to watch, such as Ikigami (which turned out to be the film in question).

We are some place, some time, in a country that operates under a special law to maintain national prosperity: as per this law individuals are given notice of their impending death exactly one day before it takes place – apparently to remind them that they must make the most of their time on earth and live life to the fullest. During the 24-hour period preceding death the ‘lucky’ individuals are allowed to do anything they wish. Fujimoto Kengo (Matsuda Shota) is one of the people that delivers the death announcements (so-called ikigami letters). What we have here is a futuristic tale that’s bound to raise some ethical questions and, as I gather from comments, contains some touching tales about some of the selectees. Note: the film is adapted from a manga, which is supposed to be equally good. As for the poster: I like the idea – and it’s better than the formulaic, alternative poster (below) for sure – but somehow it doesn’t quite work visually. Just noticed: Narumi Riko stars in this too!

Ikigami: alternative poster.

Ikigami: alternative poster.

  • Pearblossom Hwy (USA, 2013)

Dir. by Mike Ott.

A USAmerican indie that recently screened at the Bradford International Film Festival. It’s part of a trilogy of films by Ott – loosely connected, featuring the same characters, but apparently not really a sequel. Anna, who hails from Japan, is saving up money by prostituting herself so that she can return to her native country and see her sick mother. Cory, an equally lost soul that spends his time singing in a death metal band with no future, is looking for his biological father. Together with Cory’s brother, the two set out on a road trip to San Francisco in a film offering a “penetrating portrait of wandering youths in a disconsolate city” (quote). Big yay for the simplicity of the film poster – certainly marking Pearblossom Hwy as an indie, but it’s just nice to see something fresh for once.

  • 남자 사용설명서 (Namja Sayongseolmyungseo/How to Use Guys with Secret Tips, South Korea, 2013)

Dir. by Lee Won-Suk.

I came across this film already a long time ago, but its more than unfortunate title put me off. The synopsis didn’t help either: Choi Bo-na, a TV commercial assistant, hasn’t dated in years. She’s too busy with work and always looks a mess. After a shoot on a beach one day she buys some tapes at a strange stall that contain instructions on how to use (manipulate?) men with womanly persuasion. I still think this sounds mostly like a clichéd ugly-duckling-gets-a-makeover (albeit in a somewhat unusual way) rom com, but the film recently won the Audience Prize at the Far East Film Festival in Udine and garnered some positive reviews. It still is pretty low priority on my list-of-things-to-watch, but I’m registering some mild interest here. Note: The film poster… need I say anything? Can a film poster get any worse?

  • 「ゲルマニウムの夜」 (Gerumaniumu no yoru/The Whispering of the Gods, Japan, 2005)

Dir. by  Tatsushi Omori.

This is another maybe-I’ll-watch-this-maybe-I-won’t – albeit for very different reasons. Tired Paul (a regular Otherwhere reader) mentioned it when I featured Omori’s「さよなら渓谷」(Sayonara Keikoku/The Ravine of Goodbye, Japan, 2013) on last week’s Trailer Weekly, as a very dark movie he would “likely never watch again”. That, plus the knowledge that Omori was the director behind 「まほろ駅前多田便利軒」(Mahoro ekimae Tada benriken/Tada’s Do-It-All House, Japan, 2011 – see Trailer Weekly #36) and 「ケンタとジュンとカヨちゃんの国」 (Kenta to Jun to Kayo-chan no Kuni/A Crowd of Three,  Japan, 2009 – Trailer Weekly #72), instantly made me intrigued of course. Gerumaniumu no yoru, Omori’s directorial debut, is apparently a “grim film” (quote from Midnight Eye review) in which a man, Rou (Hirofumi Arai), returns to the monastery where he was raised, “a community of scarred souls, abuse is found much easier than salvation”. Featuring sexual abuse and animal cruelty, the film was controversial and, to liberate itself from any censorship, originally only screened outside the cinema circuit. Well, I do think I will watch this, but only after I work up the courage. I’m also very keen on finding out more about Hirofumi Arai, who is supposed to be excellent in this. Note on the poster: If looks could kill…

Bonus Bits

  • 「魔女の宅急便」(Majo no Takkyubin/Kiki’s Delivery Service, 1989, Japan) is to be made into a live-action movie next year. It’s the not the first Ghibli film getting the ‘real film’ treatment as「火垂るの墓」(Hotaru no haka/Grave of the Fireflies, Japan, 1988) has a live-movie adaptation as well. I can’t say I’m too excited though, animated Ghibli is good enough for me. (News from here.)