I can’t count, which is why I ended up with seven films this week instead of the usual six. Of course, I could have moved one to the next Trailer Weekly, but I think they all deserve to be featured today.
- 「オカンの嫁入り」 (Okan no Yomeiri/Here Comes the Bride, My Mom!, Japan, 2010)
Dir. by Mipo Oh.
Actually, you might want to skip the trailer for this one, which I feel is a little bit too much on the spoilerish side (it feels like a synopsis of the whole plot – I haven’t seen it, but that’s the impression I get from it). I think we are also better off ignoring the title, which makes the film sound like a cheap rom-com that the film is not – it’s more on the serious side. Yoko, a 45-year old single mother, is very close with Tsukiko, her only daughter (Miyazaki Aoi). One day Yoko brings home a man that she intends to marry – except that Kenji (Kiritani Kenta) is fifteen years younger, has dyed blond hair (you know what that means) and jobless. Tsukiko is shocked to the core and shuts herself off both from her mother and the newcomer.
- 「日本の悲劇」 (Nihon no Higeki/Japan’s Tragedy, Japan, 2013)
Dir. by Kobayashi Masahiro.
Bleak stuff, from one of the J-masters of bleak: A man learns that he has lung cancer. He ignores his doctor’s advice to have surgery (on the anniversary of his wife’s death) and instead locks (nails) himself inside a room to die. His son helplessly watches over him, struggling with his own fate – his wife and daughter have not been seen since the 2011 earthquake. I found this one on Mark Schilling’s Top Ten List for 2013, the critic noting that the “stark and unrelenting” film “concludes on a note surprisingly upbeat, at least for Kobayashi” (quote). The film comes in a mix of black & white and colour, which is significant.
- 「ブルー」 (Buru/Blue, Japan, 2001)
Dir. by Ando Hiroshi.
I don’t have a trailer for this one, but, uhhhh, you can actually find the whole film on Youtube. It stars Ichikawa Mikako, an actress who pops up in a gazillion Japanese movies, nearly always in secondary or even more minor roles, despite her obvious talent. Why she is so underrated, I have got no idea. She strikes me as the kind of actress that could be a director’s muse and she certainly also has the looks. Well, she’s not a generic cookie-cutter beauty like some very popular actresses (Takei Emi comes to mind), but has a strangely mesmerising look – utterly gorgeous in my book. Anyhow, Buru is one of the few films in which she has a lead role, playing one half of a pair of friends: Kirishima Kayako is an isolated high schooler, who meets Endō, a girl that expands her world in ways she never imagined.
- 「ラヴァーズ・キス」(Ravuuzu Kisu/Lovers’ Kiss, Japan, 2003)
Dir. by Ataru Oikawa.
Another film that has Ichikawa Mikako in its cast. Mikako is Miki, one of six high school students whom the story revolves around. Miki is a friend of Rikako’s, who was molested as a child – a traumatic experience that has turned her into a cold, detached person. Rikako pursues Tomoaki Fujii, who is said to be a womaniser and (rumour has it) impregnated a girl in the past. Added to this mix are Eriko (Miyazaki Aoi), Rikako’s younger sister, as well as Sagisawa Takao and Ogata Atsushi, with plenty of entangled relationships and unrequited love lines, including homosexual ones.
- 「そこのみにて光輝く」 (Soko nomi nite Hikari Kagayaku, Japan, 2014)
Dir. by Mipo Oh.
Still without an official English title (the literal translation of the Japanese one is ‘Shining Brilliantly Only There’), but already with a teaser trailer, Soko nomi nite Hikari Kagayaku is Ayano Gou’s next film. He plays a young, aimless man, Tatsuo Sato, who befriends Takuji Oshiro in a pachinko trailer. Takuji’s home life is dire: his father is bed-ridden, his mother’s days only consists of caring for her husband. But there is also Chinatsu, Takuji’s older sister, whom Tatsuo soon falls for as she is able to “shine” despite having no real future. However, there is something about Chinatsu that Tatsuo doesn’t know…
The teaser is short and doesn’t reveal much yet – we’ll have to wait and see if this film comes together to something worth watching.
- 피끓는 청춘 (Pikkeulneun Chungchoon/Boiling Youth, South Korea, 2014)
Dir. by Lee Yeon-woo.
Coming-of-age storylines have been kind of popular over the past few years. Taiwan cinema has been using them for a while – 《那些年，我們一起追的女孩》 (Nàxiē nián, wǒmen yīqǐ zhuī de nǚhái/You Are the Apple of My Eye, 2011),《女朋友。男朋友》(Nyeobungu. Nambungu/GF*BF, 2012) and《消失打看》 (Xiāoshī dǎ kàn/Honey Pupu, 2012) are some examples –, while 《致我们终将逝去的青春》(Zhì wǒmen zhōng jiāng shìqù de qīngchūn/To Our Youth That Is Fading Away aka So Young, 2013) is a Chinese one. Pikkeulneun Chungchoon is now the most recent Korean offering. Set in the 1980s, it comes in rom-com form and features a gangster girl (Park Bo-young), who rules her school. She likes Joong-gil (Lee Jong-seok), who however runs from her, in fear of being beaten up – for he knows that Gwang-sik (Kim Young-kwang), the school’s bad boy, has his eyes on gangsta girl. If that didn’t provide enough material for comedy already, we also get a transfer student (Lee Se-young) from Seoul, who rejects girl-magnet Joong-gil for the first time ever, leaving him, of course, utterly gobsmacked. Sounds like an epic love quadrangle already.
- 《天台》 (Tiān tái/The Rooftop, Taiwan, 2013)
Dir. by Chou Jay.
I’m not all that keen on musical movies, but every now and then I come across one that just plain works. Across the Universe (USA, 2007) was one,「愛と誠」 (Ai to Makoto/For Love’s Sake, Japan, 2012) was another, which is why – after reading the recommendation from the Wall Street Journal’s Asia’s Most Notable Films of 2013 and watching the trailer (which makes it look over the top but in that it’s-so-weird-that’s-it’s-fun kind of way) – I’m one of “the willing”:
Jay Chou’s musical — a love story between a good-natured hooligan and a proper young woman, and which he directed — may look Baz Luhrmann-inspired with its vivid set pieces, but the pop singer may just as well have been invoking Francis Ford Coppola’s ill-fated 1982 musical “One From the Heart.” This movie isn’t for everyone, but its imaginative movie-studio recreation of a seaside town and lively supporting cast made it a welcome summer treat for the willing. (quote)
- In case you haven’t seen it yet, Genkinahito’s collation of posters for all Japanese films released in 2013 is plain awesome.
- I posted some things on Tumblr last week that I feel inclined to share here also. For starters, there is Woh Woh, which made watching the only okay-ish Kimutaku dorama「安堂ロイド」 (Ando Lloyd, TBS, 2013) worthwhile: it’s an utterly gorgeous folksong by Kazumasa Oda.
- Released this week were the first screenshots for 군도:민란의 시대 (Kundo: Age of Rampant, South Korea, 2014). Kang Dong-won will soon be gracing our screens in what’s bound to be a brilliant action sageuk:
- Another visual teaser for「るろうに剣心 京都大火編」 (Rurouni Kenshin Kyoto Taika Hen/Rurouni Kenshin: The Great Kyoto Fire Arc, Japan, 2014), showing the Jupponagata (note Kamiki Ryonusuke on the far right). If you are interested in this film, I post any images released for the film on my Tumblr.