Recently I came across a Tumblr post from rnedicinal about the Japanese folktale of かぐや姫 (Kaguya Hime/Princess Kaguya), which of course provided the basis for Studio Ghibli’s forthcoming film. Other than including two traditional paintings of Kaguya, the poster also shared the actual tale: Continue reading
And one more, this one being country-themed: it’s all films from South Korea.
Director: Yoshida Daihachi
Studio: NTV, Showgate
Adaptation from: Asai Ryo’s 2010 novel of the same title
Screenplay: Kiyasu Kohei, Yoshida Daihachi
Cinematography: Kondo Ryoto
Soundscore: Kondo Tatsuro
Cast: Kamiki Ryunosuke, Hashimoto Ai, Higashide Masahiro, Ohgo Suzuka, Shimiza Kurumi, Yamamoto Kizuki, Matsuoka Mayu, Ochiai Motoki, Maeno Tomoya, Kurihara Goro & others
Runtime: 103 min
Film’s official website: http://www.kirishima-movie.com/index.html
Kirishima, the titular hero of the Japan Academy’s Best Picture of the Year, is rather like Godot: although everyone is waiting for him to appear, he never actually shows up. Different from Godot, however, we can be fairly certain that the character – a teenage boy and star athlete at his school – does exist, it’s just that he seems to have literally vanished off the face of the earth after suddenly quitting the volleyball team he previously captained. His resignation is, for a long time, pretty much the most eventful thing that happens in this tale, but takes place not just off-screen but also before the narrative begins, the film itself concerning itself only with the aftermath of the event.
What to say? I was going to introduce this post with a few words on all the food thoughts I had today thanks to filling my bag with lots of goodies from the farmers’ market today (tomatoes, for the first time in months!) and my cooking plans (1, 2, 3) for the week (to spoil my ‘little sister’ that will be visiting), but after a long day at work I’m a bit tired and too lazy to write anything much. So, we’ll get right to this week’s trailers instead.
Country: South Korea
Director: Yeun Sang-Ho
Studio: Studio Dadashow, KT&G Sangsangmadang
Screenplay: Yeun Sang-Ho
Art Direction: N/A
Animation Direction: N/A
Soundscore: Eom Been
Voice Cast: Yang Ik-joon, Oh Jung-se, Kim Hye-na, Kim Kkobbi, Park Hee-von
Runtime: 97 min
Distribution: Terracotta (UK)
Seen at the Terracotta on Tour screening at the Genesis Cinema thanks to winning tickets from Eastern Kicks. Special thanks also go to the Korean Film Council, which provided me with online access to the film. The King of Pigs will screen in London on March 8, 2013 as part of the Pan-Asia Film Festival and will be released on DVD by Terracotta on March 11, 2013.
학교 2013 (Hakkyo 2013/School 2013, South Korea, 2013), a television drama that recently aired on KBS2, explores the life and struggles of high school students on a number of levels, tackling issues such as the pressure of academic achievement, strained relationships with parents and suicide, but also the hierarchical structures of classrooms and bullying, breaking with the silence that still surrounds many of these problems in Korean society. Hakkyo 2013 deserves praise for the candid as well as sensitive portrayal of these issues, but it does not go all the way, for although the picture it presents is surprisingly dark, it is not one entirely without hope. Indeed, as television productions face the judgment of a media regulation agency and weekly viewing figures from an audience that remains hesitant about open conversations on such issues, it is left to a few, audacious films to play out the worst scenarios imaginable until the very end. One of these films – in animated form – is 돼지의 왕 (Daegieui wang/The King of Pigs, 2011).
Sunday was Chinese New Year so I will begin this Trailer Weekly with 恭喜发财! (Gong xi fa cai!). I actually ventured out to London’s Chinatown with a friend, fully intent on enjoying some Taiwanese food but the restaurant I had in mind had a queue about a mile long, even at 3 in the afternoon. In the end we opted for Japanese (vegetable & tofu tempura bento, plus lovely gyōza) and later watched a Japanese film at my friend’s house (Ghibli’s 「おもひでぽろぽろ」/ Omohide Poro Poro/Only Yesterday, 1991, after initially considering 「火垂るの墓」 / Hotaru no Haka/Grave of the Fireflies, 1988, even buying some comfort food and then copping out. Jajaja…). Anyhow, it ended up being a pretty un-Chinese Chinese New Year, despite all intentions. Ah well.
In terms of this belated Trailer Weekly, I thought it was time for another ‘Special’, with J-actresses that I know from doramas as the focus: Anne, Karina, Koyuki, Yoko Maki, Ueno Juri and Takeuchi Yuko. Continue reading
Alternative English Title: The Legend of Love and Sincerity
Director: Miike Takashi
Adaptation from: Kajiwara Ikki’s manga「愛と誠」(Ai to Makoto, 1973-1976)
Screenplay: Takuma Takayuki
Cinematography: Kita Nobuyasu
Soundscore: Kobayashi Takeshi
Cast: Tsumabuki Satoshi, Takei Emi, Saito Takumi, Ono Ito, Andō Sakura, Ihara Tsuyoshi, Yo Kimiko
Runtime: 134 min
Film’s official website: aiandmakoto.jp (in Japanese)
Back in the 70s Kajiwara Ikki wrote, in manga form, the story of Ai to Makoto (literally Ai and Makoto, names which also mean ‘love’ and ‘sincerity’), two teenagers on very different rungs of the social ladder whose paths fatefully cross. Angelic Ai inhabits the strata of the upper class, coming from a wealthy family that has sheltered her from all the hardships that exist in life. Makoto, meanwhile, is at the very bottom of the hierarchy: abandoned by his father and mother, he survives as a fist-fighting delinquent in the lowest echelons of Tokyo. It’s probably not the most original of stories – a modern-day Romeo and Juliet tale – but Kajiwara’s manga, which originally ran from 1973 to 1976 in the Weekly Shōnen Magazine (Kodansha), was almost immediately adapted to a dorama (1974) and to three films (1974, 1975 and 1976). More than forty-years on cult-director Miike Takashi (「クローズZERO」/Kurōzu Zero/Crows Zero, 2007; 「十三人の刺客」/Jûsan-nin no shikaku/Thirteen Assassins, 2010) dug the story out again and made it into…. well, that’s the question. Continue reading
So here I am with the Trailer Weekly a day late. It’s such a busy time for me both at university as well as with all my gazillion part-time jobs and now with the London Film Festival added on top, I’m just barely squeezing in a few hours of sleep each night and not really doing much else! Hence the lack of posting.
I have however been jotting down notes on the films I have seen so far -「おおかみこどもの雨と雪」 (Ookami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki/Wolf Children, Japan, 2012),「愛と誠 」(Ai to Makoto/For Love’s Sake, Japan, 2012), 「夢売るふたり」 (Yume Uru Futari/Dreams for Sale, Japan, 2012), 물고기 (Mulgogi/A Fish, South Korea, 2011) and「ライク・サムワン・イン・ラブ」 (Raiku samuwan in rabu/Like Someone in Love, Japan/France, 2012) - with several more still to come. Only Yume Uru Futari didn’t impress me all that much, most others (most of all Ookami Kodomo and Ai to Makoto!) I wish I could rewatch already tomorrow!
By the way, I think all the film posters this week – except the one for the Iranian film – are super boring. Boohoo.
Where to start? The British Film Institute’s London International Film Festival – running from 10-21 October this year – is such a big event that its programme release is always a little overwhelming. You don’t quite know where to look first, even if you have cinematic preferences. The BFI, in an attempt to revamp the festival (or maybe just for the new festival director Clare Stewart to make her mark), introduced thematic strands this year for the first time, but fortunately you can still browse offerings by country or director. That’s a good thing, especially since the BFI’s website (including its search function) is generally a nightmare (still no hits if you search for Tiger & Bunny, which they are screening on September 23rd). Continue reading
Trailer Weekly day. I’m back in London and suffering from the sudden 15 degree drop in temperature (the weather is just miserable!) and the fact that my breakfast doesn’t include mango anymore. Boohoooo. Never mind that the autumn months are looking insanely busy already, leaving me unsure whether I’ll have even time to breathe… all my September weekends are already planned out and some of October’s as well. Although I’m still a bit disappointed that I had to turn down presenting at the Cultural Translation and East Asia: Film, Literature and Art conference, which takes place in Bangor, Wales, next week, I know it was the more sensible decision in terms of time and workload. Despite the full schedule ahead, I’m hoping I will fit in more film reviews this month, as only three in August was a new low – sorry!
On to trailers, trailers: we are 50/50 this week: 50% Korean, 50% Japanese.
Films this week come from a variety of sources – some more from the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) catalogue, one (and a half) from Twitter and one from an invitation email for the monthly ICA members’ preview – so it’s a mixed selection that is somehow dominated by Korean connections. And, for once, nothing Japanese, at least not in the trailer section. The Bonus Bits, meanwhile, are all about Japan.
Director: Matsuyama Hiroaki
Adaptation from: Shinobu Kaitani’s manga「ライアーゲーム」(Raia Gemu/Liar Game)
Screenplay: not credited
Cinematography: Miyata Nobu
Soundscore: not credited
Cast: Matsuda Shota, Tabe Mikako
Runtime: 131 min
Trailer: on YouTube
Film’s official website: in Japanese only
Seen on a British Airways flight from London to New Delhi (August 2012). The theatrical and/or DVD versions may differ slightly.
As you might guess from a title like Raia Gemu – Saisei, there is a lot that precedes this film. It all starts with a manga,「ライアーゲーム」(Raia Gemu/Liar Game, 2005 – ongoing), which went on to inspire two seasons of a TV drama (2007, 2009), a first film (「ライアーゲーム ザ・ファイナルステージ」/Raia Gemu za Fainaru Suteji/Liar Game – The Final Stage, 2010), a spin-off drama series 「アリス イン ライアーゲーム」 (Arisu in Raiagemu/Alice in Liar Game, 2012) and of course Raia Gemu – Saisei itself. Continue reading
Recently, in Trailer Weekly 43, I posted a teaser trailer for「るろうに剣心」 (Rurōnikenshin/Rurouni Kenshin, Japan, 2012). A full length trailer now is available on the official YouTube channel of the film, not only in Japanese, but with subtitles in four different languages: English, French, Spanish and Chinese. The multi-language effort in itself is interesting, as it surely must indicate something about the audience the film is aiming for. Continue reading
Juuuuust posting this in time before Sunday is over – I had nearly finished the Trailer Weekly a few hours ago, but then a Japanese friend of mine came for dinner and I was (happily) distracted for a while, enjoying lovely company and yum food (oven grilled summer veg from the farmers’ market + couscous with sour cherries and pistachios + Korean style edamame & cucumber salad + cherries + Greek coffee).
This week’s Trailer Weekly begins with lots of USAmericana (including some big budget films), but trailers from Japan and Korea follow as well.
This is going to be an anime Trailer Weekly. Just because. A super short one too, but I’m literally falling asleep here and just cannot concentrate (「スローダンス」/Slow Dance, Japan, 2005 is to be blamed for this. I was watching till 3 a.m. – up to and including episode 9 – and had to get up at 6:30 for work). Apologies for any typos. I will fix them tomorrow. Continue reading
When I attending the Japanese Embassy’s monthly film screening of Aiki (Japan, 2002 – review to follow) last night, I picked up a leaflet for the 6th Manga Jiman competition. (The picture above is a scan – leaflet ended up slightly crumpled in typical alua-fashion ;-).) Continue reading
Director: Sono Sion
Screenplay: Sono Sion
Original Manga: Furuya Minoru
Cinematography: Tanikawa Sohei
Cast: Sometani Shōta, Nikaidō Fumi, Watanabe Tetsu, Denden, Murakami Jun, Watanabe Makiko, Mitsuishi Ken, Fukikoshi Mitsuru, Kagurazaka Megumi, Kurosawa Asuka, Suwa Taro, Kubozuka Yosuke, Horibe Keisuke, Nishijima Takahiro
Runtime: 129 min
Trailer: on YouTube
Official Website: Himizu (in Japanese)
Seen at the film’s European premiere at the Terracotta Far East Film Festival in London. Himizu screens on the British Isles from June 1st. See for details below.
Note: Manga images included read right to left.
When Furuya Minora first published ヒミズ (Himizu) in 2001, many fans were bitterly disappointed. Up until then Furuya had established his name as a comedy manga artist, starting with 行け!稲中卓球部 (Ike! Inachū takkyū-bu/Ping-Pong Club, original run from 1993-1996) which was so successful that it “set the standard for comedy manga” (wikipedia). Ike! Inachū takkyū-bu was followed by 僕といっしょ (Boku to Issho/Together with Me, 1998) and グリーンヒル (Gurīnhiru/ Green Hill, 2000), which both did reflect on difficulties of life in an increasingly capitalist society, but still packed this into comedic storylines. Then came Himizu.
UPDATED 9/6/2012 – BFI links fixed!
A great range of events this month. Lots of fabulous films. The ICA in particular is showing plenty of love for Korean cinema and then there is of course the Edinburgh International Film Festival, which has all kind of gems on offer.
Before we get started on trailers, please head over to indiewire.com, check the four films nominated for “Project of the Week” and vote. (Hint: I voted Remember O Goddess. I did check out the others, but it’s still Remember O Goddess I want to see the most.)
As for this week’s trailers: Continue reading
A Letter to Momo: New place. New friends?
I kind of just want to dance around the room right now. I just heard the BFI is holding a special showcase for recent anime in June (June 8-10, 2012 to be exact), and the line-up makes me all giddy.
Things I hate: when a perfectly good film festival comes along and I only find out about it right in the middle of it. That’s what happened this morning, when there was a mention of the Argentine Film Festival, running from April 19-22, in the Film London Newsletter. Why oh why? Why can’t they mention it a week or two in advance? Not only have I missed two days of the festival, but
a) I have another film scheduled to see tonight (Karl Markovics’s Atmen/Breathing) which I could have perfectly well seen on another date because it is on general release in the UK and
Wahhh! So all I can do is put those films I would have very, very much liked to see but am missing in this week’s Trailer Weekly. (And I’ll get off my ranting pedestal now and keep my fingers crossed that I will get to watch these some other time.)
Year: 1995 (original film), 2008 (digitally remastered version Ghost in the Shell 2.0)
Director: Oshii Mamoru (押井 守)
Original Manga by: Shirō Masamune (士郎 正宗 )
Screenplay: Itō Kazunori (伊藤 和典)
Art Direction: Ogura Hiromasa
Animation Direction: Nishikubo Toshihiko
Runtime: 83 min
Trailer: Teaser and longer trailer on YouTube (both not subtitled)
Seen at a special one-off screening at Prince Charles Cinema as part of their weekly Double Bill event. The other film screened as part of the “Most Manga Double Bill” was アキラ (Akira, Japan, 1988) – retrospectively, I should have watched that one too. Both screenings were completely sold out – lots of otaku about London it seems.
With some films, watching them once or twice does not suffice, but multiple viewings are required in order to fully understand and appreciate them – and 「攻殻機動隊」 (Ghost in the Shell) is, without doubt, one of these magnificently layered creations. Seeing the cult anime for the first time earlier this week at a special screening organised by London’s Prince Charles Cinema, this means what I can offer at this point is a first impression of a work that I plan to revisit many times Continue reading
Yeppers, I’m late. I was tired from work on Saturday and then I browsed the raws of the webtoon 유토피아 (Utopia) which just sort of made me a little depressed and not in the mood to do anything productive like writing a blog post… Utopia, by the way, has a great premise, even if its tagline (“two extra-ordinary people in ordinary love”) sounds a little cheesy. But the ‘extra-ordinary’ refers to two social outcasts, a teen girl, who communicates only in writing, and an orphaned boy who is seriously maimed in a car accident, losing his left leg, as well as suffering facial disfigurement and brain damage. I would have said that’s sufficient hardship to explore in one story, but [spoiler alert!] judging from the raws there is no happy ending to this. Wahhh….
As for trailers this week, the focus is on Taiwan, a country that holds a special place in my TCK heart. As you may know, coming up in May is the Taiwan Cinefest (I will write a separate blog post on the programme and other details soon) and as I was researching the films to be screened, I stumbled across “Taiwan Cinema – Shining through the 21st Century”, a freely downloadable document prepared in cooperation between the Government Information Office and the Taipei Film Commission. The file contains synopses for a whole lot of T-films from the past couple of years plus details on upcoming releases. Highlights: Continue reading
Director: Toshiya Itoh
Screenplay: Tsutui Tomomi, Toshiya Itoh
Cast: Hayase Misato, Kobayashi Yu, Shiga Junichi, Amasaga Toshiyuki, Uchida Asao, Dan Fumi, Kusakari Masao
Runtime: 107 min
Trailer: no trailer available, but 4 min clip of the opening is on YouTube
Seen at a screening as part of the Films at the Embassy of Japan programme.
It’s another film that is simply magical. Kaze no Matasaburō: Garasu no masoto (literally Matasaburō of the Wind: Cape of Glass) depicts a story of childhood in the rural Japan of the 1920s. At the heart of the tale is Takada (Kobayashi Yu), a young boy, whose father is transferred to a remote village in the Tōhoku region. Takada arrives there on the very windy 210th day of the year, which immediately raises suspicion in the village children: he must, they whisper amongst themselves, be Matasaburō, the son of the wind god, who appears on this day and stays until the 220th – a suspicion that seems confirmed when it turns out that Takada’s first name is Saburō. Continue reading
It’s one of those grey, uninspiring, semi-wintery days in London that make you just want to curl up in bed with hot chocolate and a good movie. I did watch 나무없는 산 (Namooeobsneun San/Treeless Mountain, Korea, 2008) earlier (with a review to follow next week), but had no hot chocolate unfortunately. I can’t quite convince myself to brave the on-and-off rain for a treat at the local café, so I’m moping around the house instead. Lazy Saturday afternoon…
But, moving on, let’s get to our weekly trailers! All Asia today.
Entering the whacky manga territory: just so you know what you are in for…
Director: E J-yong (이재용)
Screenplay: Choi Jin-seong (최진성), E J-yong (이재용)
Cinematography: Jeong Jeong-hoon
Cast: Kim Ok-bin (김옥빈), Lee Kyeon (이켠), Park Jin-woo (박진우), Eu-seong (은성), Kim Byeol (김별), Nam Oh-jeong (남호정), Park Hye-won (박혜원), Lee Won-jong (이원종), among others
Runtime: 111 min
Trailer: on YouTube
Dasepo Sonyeo is the kind of film that I never have many expectations for because it falls into that whacky, exaggerated comedy format that rarely works for me. Based on a web manga (or rather, with the source material being Korean, a manhwa), which frequently operate in the realm of an alternate reality, the ‘way out there’ feel is reinforced. That, in fact, isn’t bad news: it’s much easier to submit yourself to Dasepo Sonyeo‘s outlandishness, its weird sense of humour and blindingly bright colour palette (pink girls! orange school skirts! purple school trousers!) if you know that this is where the film stems from. Continue reading
Director: Kim Byung-kon (김병곤)
Country: South Korea
Screenplay: scriptwriter not named in the any of the sources I consulted
Cast: Jang Geun-sook (장근석), Kim Ha-neul (김하늘)
Runtime: 110 min.
Trailer: on YouTube (1 min trailer with English subtitles)
Film’s official website: in Korean
Advance warning: This review contains spoilers. I would recommend reading it only if you are already familiar with the manga or J-dorama that preceded the K-film.
너는 펫 (Neoneun Pet/You’re My Pet) sets itself up for problems from the start as it commits a fatal error when it allows Eun-yi (Kim Ha-neul) and In-ho (Jang Geun-sook) to meet under ‘human’ circumstances: Eun-soo (Choi Jong-hoon), Eun-Yi’s younger brother, brings In-ho, who has been booted out his own place, to his sister’s house for them to spend the night there. Continue reading
Drawing for Studio Ghibli’s となりのトトロ (Tonari no Totoro/My Neighbour Totoro)
First of all: 今年もよろしく。새해 복 많이 받으세요! Happy New Year! Gutes neues Jahr! Gelukkig nieuwjaar! Feliz año nuevo! Felix ano novo! (and so forth)
I thought for the first day of the new year, I would let you know some of the plans I have for Otherwhere in 2012. Continue reading
Director: Eric Khoo
Screenplay: Eric Khoo
Art Animation Director: Phil Mitchell
Music: Christopher Khoo, Christine Sham
Runtime: 98 min
Trailer: on YouTube
Film’s official website: Tatsumi
It often feels that there is a whole world between animated features in the West (or only the US?) and elsewhere. The recently announced nominees for the Golden Globes award “Best Animated Film” (The Adventures of Tintin, Arthur Christmas, Cars 2, Puss in Boots, Rango) were a vivid reminder of this, echoing the equally homogeneous nominee lists (winners in bold) from previous years: Continue reading
Director: Morita Hiroyuki
Screenplay: Yoshida Reiko
Art Direction: Tanaka Naoya
Animation: Inoue Ei and Ozaki Kazutaka
Music: Nomi Yuuji
Runtime: 75 min
Trailer: on YouTube
猫の恩返し (Neko no Ongaeshi, literally The Cat’s Repayment but known as The Cat Returns in English) is one of two Studio Ghibli productions based on mangas written by Hiiragi Aoi – the other being the 1995 耳をすませば (Mimi o Sumaseba/Whisper of the Heart). Continue reading
This morning I woke to find a parcel from the Korean Cultural Centre UK on the stairs – an envelope containing the film DVD 이끼 (I-ggi/Moss). The KCCUK sent me an email a few weeks back to let me know that I had won a DVD for diligently filling out a survey during the London Korean Film Festival back in October. I am not sure if they did a draw or chose DVD winners indeed by effort, but effort I did make – scribbling plenty of feedback on those forms, including a request to screen 도가니/Dogani, Silenced/The Crucible next year, do multiple showings of films and invite Kim Soo-hyun (they asked who we would like to see at the festival!). I even wrote film titles in Korean!
The 55th BFI Film Festival finished a few days ago, but not without handing out some awards. I am happy to see that We Need to Talk about Kevin won Best Film. The Sutherland Award - for the director of “the most original and imaginative feature debut in the Festival” – was awarded to Las Acacias‘s Pablo Giorgelli). Hopefully I will be able to catch this film somewhere in the near future (bonus link: trailer).
Director: Ryoo Jang-ha
Screenplay: Ryoo Jang-ha, Lee Taek-kyeong, Kang Kyoo-heon, Yoon Taek-Geun, Jeon Hyun-hee
Cast: 이연희 (Lee Yeon-hee); 유지태 (Yoo Ji-tae); 강인 (Kang-in); 채정안 (Chae Jung-an)
Trailer: Hello Schoolgirl (no subtitles)
Based on the webcomic 순정만화 (Suneong Manwha / Love Story or Crush on You in English) by 강풀 (Kang Pool), Hello Schoolgirl is an endearing film about four individuals – schoolgirl Soo-young, social office worker Yeon-Woo, public duty servant Kang Sook fulfilling his military service and slightly older woman Jeong Da-jeong – whose paths intersect and who fall in love despite their circumstances. Continue reading