The 100 Best Contemporary Japanese Movies - Psycho Drama is launching an ambitious project to compile 100 of the best modern-day Japanese movies from the last 2 decades or so. Featuring the best young actors of their generation - from Joe Odagiri, Takako Matsu and Tadanobu Asano, to Satoshi Tsumabuki, Hikari Mitsushima, Mao Inoue, Ryuhei Matsuda, Shun Oguri and Masanabu Ando to the current crop of exciting young talents - Shota Sometani, Yuya Yagira, Kamiki Ryunosuke, Sosuke Ikematsu, Kento Yamazaki, Fumi Nikaido and Ai Hashimoto. [ click here ]
Masahiro Higashide is reported to be playing one of the leads in the sequel to the 1995 Takashi Ishii movie, Gonin (also known as The Five), which is to be entitled The Gonin Saga. The sequel is supposed to feature the second generation of those who appeared in the original movie.
Higashide will play Hisamatsu Shigeru, the leader of an organized crime group who will seek revenge against a rival. Tasuku Emoto, Kenta Kiritani, Masanobu Ando and Anna Tsuchiya also star.
About the original movie: Gonin was directed by Takeshi Ishii with Beat Takeshi as one of the leads. This was reported to be Kitano's return to films after his motorcycle accident in 1994. The first movie has the following storyline:
Bandai (Sato) is a disco owner whose business, following the collapse of Japan's "bubble economy", is slowly disintegrating, and who owes debts to local Yakuza money he cannot possibly pay. His solution is to rob the gangsters, for which purpose he assembles a team consisting of other casualties of the economic downturn—including a hustler (Motoki) who frequents his club (and who, depending on how you interpret the film's opening credits, may or may not have stabbed him in the face), a down-on-his-luck ex-cop (Jinpachi Nezu), an unbalanced salaryman (Naoto Takenaka), the extent of whose derangement is unclear until the film's most notorious and horrifying scene, and a Thai pimp (Kippei Shiina, in a strange, convincingly brain-damaged performance). The hastily-planned heist goes off awkwardly, and the Yakuza start tracking down the conspirators, hiring a team of hitmen (Kitano and Kazuya Kimura) to take out the thieves.
Masanobu Ando, who was said to be a big fan of the director, is very excited to be part of the sequel. Ando is not your typical Japanese actor - he loves to portray the bad guy, and is never really concerned being on the spotlight. He also works with filmmakers outside Japan. This is really such a welcome news for one incredible actor! Definitely some acting duel for Higashide and Ando!
Film to be under the banners of Pony Canyon and KADOKAWA, for a slated release date of 2015.
[ Scoop via Eiga News ]
The enormous success of the romance/coming-of-age drama Itazura na Kiss overseas, particularly in China, has pave the way for its lead star - Yuki Furukawa to grab an important role in a new drama co-production between Japan's Fuji TV and IQiyi, a Chinese online video company founded by Baidu. Furukawa is said to be one of the most popular actors in China today.
I'm not particularly sure about the exact title of the reported 15-episode drama, but it has something to do with young people involved in various sorts of situations inside a library. "Mysterious Summer" or "Strange Summer" are my best guess...
Furukawa is to play someone inside a library, and may even be a librarian of sorts. Strange things will happen to people inside the place and stories about love, revenge, mystery, aspirations, ambition, betrayal will form part of these stories.
Other members of the cast are yet to be announced. The broadcast of the drama may take a different route than normal showing on television, as the aim is to make the show available on demand.
Furukawa is also said to be "interested" in doing a movie to be produced by a Chinese film company.
[ Scoop from Cinema Cafe ]
Villain (Akunin) is a Japanese drama-thriller that seeks to answer the question: Who is the real villain in the story?
A young man (Satoshi Tsumabuki) who got jilted by an ambitious young lady (Hikari Mitsushima) could not control his anger and killed her as a result of the rejection. Is he the villain of the story? Or is the ambitious sales lady, who doesn't know her place, the real villain? How about the other young man (Masaki Okada) who rejected her in the first place? Depending on the viewer's point of view, the villain maybe anyone of them. After a few nominations for Best Actor, this movie finally gave Satoshi Tsumabuki the recognition he deserves. Eri Fukatsu also got the nod for Best Actress. Hikari Mitsushima who played the ambitious insurance sales executive is probably the most hated character in the film, but such is the case of an actress who can really portray a character! Definitely an acting showcase here!
What the Movie is all about: Yuichi Shimizu (Satoshi Tsumabuki) is a young man who takes care of his grandparents in a decaying fishing village in Nagasaki. His grandparents raised Yuichi instead of his mother. Yuichi now works as a civil employee. He is a lonely man. One day, Yuichi meets Yoshino Ishibashi (Hikari Mitsushima) an insurance sales woman from Fukuoka. They first met through an online dating site. Their meeting ends in tragedy with Yuichi murdering Yoshino. Unexpectedly, a rich young university student from Fukuoka, named Keigo Masuo (Masaki Okada) ends up as the prime suspect. Hiding in fear & agony, Yuichi goes on with his daily life. Then one day, Yuichi receives an email. The email is from Mitsuyo Magome (Eri Fukatsu), a woman from Saga. Yuichi and Mitsuyo exchanged emails in the past after meeting through an online dating site. Mitsuyo currently lives a mundane life, working at a men's clothing store and living with her younger sister. Looking for companionship, Mitsuyo decided to reach out to Yuichi after a lengthy time without correspondence.
The two lonely souls then meet for the first time and throw themselves into a moment of love. By this time, Yuichi is now a wanted criminal and his face appears on the news. Nevertheless, Mitsuyo persuades Yuichi to run away with her and not turn himself in. Running away places heavy burdens on their families as well as the victim's family. [ source ]
Why you need to watch this movie: Tsumabuki has been nominated many times, but in Villain, he grabbed the plum prize as Best Actor in the 2010 Japanese Academy Awards.
Satoshi himself described his character:
The role of the hero, or antihero, in "Akunin" ("Villain") directed by Lee Sang Il, was one of the most important jobs in my career. As I got deeply involved in playing Yuichi, a lonely outcast who murdered a woman and was on the run with a social misfit named Mitsuyo (Eri Fukatsu) who he'd met through an online dating site, I thought about the character every moment of the day and I was totally burned out when the filming finished.
However, that experience finally made me realize that my job was primarily just "acting," and that I should stand back from other issues I'd concerned myself with — such as the burden of responsibility for a production's success if I was in the main role, or how to get a theme or message across to the audience — and entrust those to the director or the other staff. Once I realized that, I was able to concentrate more on my acting. [ read more ]
Tsumabuki was great in the drama Orange Days, really funny in Waterboys, a swashbuckling hero in Dororo and quite the dramatic actor in Tears for You and Tokyo Family. But nothing can compare to his performance in Villain as the misunderstood Yuichi Shimizu who only wants to fall in love like anyone of us...Read more...
Tokyo Tower: Mom and Me, and Sometimes Dad is a Japanese family drama about a dedicated Mom (Kirin Kiki) who did everything she could to have her son (Joe Odagiri) get a decent education. When the time comes for the son to return the favor, he did so with the same love and affection as his Mom. The Joji Matsuoka film won 5 major awards at the Japan Academy including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actress (Kirin Kiki).
What the Movie is all about: Leaving her alcoholic husband, Eiko takes their son Masaya away and back to her hometown in a Kyushu rural mining community. She toils to support him though many years of schooling even after he wastes his time while studying art in a Tokyo university. After graduation he struggles to find work and finally pulls his life together for his mother's sake, ultimately ending up with multiple jobs as an illustrator and even as the host of a sexually-themed talk show on radio. When Eiko becomes ill with cancer, Masaya invites her to live with him in back in Tokyo where the roles of support are reversed.
Before my review, I watched Joe Odagiri at CNN and he said he prefered acting roles that are different and not mainstream at all:
Well, I think I am imperfect. And every one of us thinks, "I am imperfect". As I know how flawed I am, I'm drawn to characters exuding such human foibles. It's probably because I empathize with them, or they have flaws that I have. I can be good at playing the part. It might be out of my confidence that I can make the best use of what I have for this character. Well, I guess, because I have many things that I feel inferior about, I choose those strange roles. [ source ]
I find this to be a contradiction of sorts, because he's very confident when it comes to his physique and his fashion sense. But I guess, he's using his perspective of himself as a method actor. This movie got me interested in watching more of Mr. Odagiri. It was also reported that he was a "peculiar choice" to play the role since he is not the ideal, or typical Japanese son, whatever that means. But I really felt he did the role justice. It was actually his 'peculiarity' that made the performance heartfelt and genuine.
I've watched Kirin Kiki in Villain already and is not surprised by the sheer power of her acting. It was discovering that her own daughter (Yayako Uchida) who portrayed the younger Mom that got me suprised. Like mother like daughter, they both made sure they portrayed a character who is independent-minded, strong-willed and loving. Both gave bravurah performances! [ see our full review here ]
Why you need to watch this movie: Some of the most endearing Japanese movies are all about families - the basic unit in any society. In Japan, the hugging and the kissing maybe minimal to the typical Japanese, but the love and affection can be considered as intense and as powerful as with any family from anywhere in the world. Aside from the memorable characters, the on-screen chemistry between mother and son - Kirin Kiki and Joe Odagiri made this such an endearing movie to watch.
There are a good number of dramatic scenes that were made to emphasize the point of love between mother and son, and these sort of scenes are designed to tug at the hearts, and make people cry. The intention of the director and scripwriter are quite obvious but despite the script and predictability of the sad ending, it remains a powerful movie because it is a moving testament to what family is all about - especially between a mother who did everything for her son and for the grateful son to return back the love in equal intensity and measure.Read more...
With a yakuza father who was kicked from the group and made a laughing stock in the community, Saki (Mei Kurokawa) and Toshi (Sometani) struggled to survive while living at the shabby Drive in Gamo located at the side of the road. Saki rebelled, got pregnant and suffered from domestic violence from her abusive husband. With no future prospects, she returned to Toshi and their desperate existence...
The trailer looks promising, and Shota Sometani may yet get another wave of critical acclaim, same goes to Mei Kurokawa who plays his sister - with some very intense dramatic scenes herself.
In Part One of this hitlist, we feature some very intense, highly dramatic characters... In Part 2, we're featuring the opposite - funny (even comical), weird, wacky and nerdy-geeky J-dorama characters. Some may find the acting to be over the top, but what makes the characters special, is precisely due to the over-acting!
Kanata Hongo's take of an alien who wants to establish a sort of haven for his queen and other members of his race made Norio Yamazawa another favorite Japanese drama character. Of course, no one can compete with Hongo when playing weird characters - playing baseball and hitting the ball with the bat upside down, falling from a school building 3-4 storeys high, smelling flowers and commenting how exciting it was to do so for the first time... so many weird scenes that only Hongo can deliver!Read more...
While we are getting ready for Kamiki's actor bias articles (past, present and future acting projects and milestones, divided into 3-4 parts), it's so cool to hear that he's travelling to Vietnam to experience another culture. The talented actor recently celebrated his birthday last 19th of May. He is just 21 years old, but look at his acting resume!
His final destination will be the terraced rice fields along the borderline between Vietnam and China. He also accompanies the Vietnamese fisherman for squid fishing in Halong Bay, goes sightseeing by rickshaw cyclo in Hanoi and has dinner at the canteen right near the railway. That will be 6 days of enjoyment the local sense to its fullest.
To get know about pig bloodlines from family in Sapa and so are the experiences that Kamiki couldn’t get in Japan. “I have learnt a lot as an actor, as a human being, to be able to be more mature, I will study diligently day by day”. The first chance to travel by train at a foreign country would be his treasure. [ source ]
I remember watching Train Brain Express featuring Eita and Kenichi Matsuyama, both reported to be train lovers, and that makes Kamiki part of their company!
I'm still not used to Johnny's talents being ordered to disappear (remain invisible) during movie promotions. I watched Yuri Chinen in Sprout and thought he did a decent job of acting, and while there needs to be more focus on his performance even in the more recent Yorozu Uranaidokoro Onmyoya e Yokoso, the guy has a charming appeal on the screen. Obviously, all Johnny talents are required to look good, otherwise why would they be part of a boy band?
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13oys and Men - Promoting the awesome and talented young Japanese actors, with lots of screenshots and insights into the careers of top and upcoming young talents.
My Drama Tea - Honest and insightful reviews of Japanese drama, also reviews of Chinese, Korean and Taiwanese dramas, with music news and movie reviews.
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