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 ]
While the lead star in the box office hit The Eternal Zero (Eien no Zero) is no other than Junichi Okada, I do believe (however biased I maybe) that Shota Sometani's performance should earn him an acting nod in the upcoming Japan Academy Prize.
I was extremely surprised that his role in the said movie was as significant and as meaty as it is. I always thought it was just a supporting role, where he will play one of the characters with minimal impact. I could have been more wrong!
As Oishi, Someya plays one of the elite Japanese fighter pilots in Takashi Yamazaki's highly-controversial, even nationalistic war movie that moved many Japanese to tears and became one of the biggest box office hit in Japan history. [ I will be posting a separate film review of The Eternal Zero and another post regarding its effects on people inside and outside Japan ]
Oishi has a direct relationship with the major characters and is actually part of the family. I don't want to divulge too much as there are still many who would wish to watch this movie without the spoilers, so I will stop at that. But to say his acting is less than phenomenal is an understatement!
Another shocking (but extremely pleasant surprise) is having to watch two personal favorites play up close and personal - Mao Inoue also has a lot of scenes together with Sometani, and I was (again) impressed how the production crew made them look so good together. The age difference ( not really that much though...) looks nothing and they could have played lovers in any movie.
There are some cheesy moments in the movie but not involving Someya or Inoue, which I would also include in my movie review. Let me just say, while the movie is not perfect and there are some scenes where I did some fast forward (it's kinda painful to watch them for the acting, not because of the storyline), there are some impressive performances worthy of acting awards and it includes Shota Sometani and Mao Inoue and yes, Junichi Okada too. Come awards announcement at the Japan Academy Prize, I would not be surprised if all of them grab nominations...
"Cinefuku Daikokuza” located in Fukuyama, Hiroshima opened in 1892 and has existed for 122 years. This is the inspiration behind the mystery-drama "Cinema no Tenshi" starring Reiko Fujiwara, Kanata Hongo and Mickey Curtis - who will play a mysterious character with complete knowledge of the history of the said theater.
Asuka (Reiko Fujiwara) works in Daikokuza which is ordered to be shut down and the building to be demolished after a very long existence. She encounters a mysterious man (Mickey Curtis) who began to tell her about the history of the cinema. Asuka remembers her childhood friend Akira (Kanata Hongo) who always told her about his dream to do a movie about the said theater and has invited him before it is finally demolished...Read more...
To say the the new movie Mahoro Ekimae Kyousoukyoku starring Eita and Ryuhei Matsuda being highly-anticipated is already an understatement. For fans of both actors, this can be considered as the movie event of the year and rightly so!
5 out of 5 stars
It should be noted that after the first movie and the TV series, this is the 3rd installment that explores the adventures and misadventures of two thirty-something men who accepts odds jobs and in turn discovered the characters of their clients - to the point of getting "up close and personal" with some of them and even rescuing some from society's bad elements. With a perfect mix of drama and comedy, all of their tasks are not only fulfilling to the men but to their audience as well.
We posted a rather detailed look at the movies (and drama series) here...
This is actually the second poster to come out for the movie's promotion and is definitely more "cool" than the previous one...
Among the current crop of young and promising Japanese actresses, three of them can be considered more daring and more talented than the rest - notwithstanding the fact that one of them can be very vocal about working with directors who can be very demanding. (That would be Fumi Nikaido regarding some scenes in Brain Man, starring Toma Ikuta where she plays one crazy killer (devilish, perhaps?)...)
While the local movie scene may not be as popular as, say Japanese anime or even Japanese dramas, still Japanese movies are well regarded abroad. This is a fact that was earlier confirmed by a New Zealander who did a lot of English subs for such J-movies. He is Don Brown and his articles under the One Take on Japanese Movies is a must-read for all J-movie fans!
Brown made mention of two of the above actresses (Nikaido and Komatsu) and says:
Back in 2010 when Takashi Miike’s “Lesson of the Evil” was released in Japan, Yuko Oshima of the pop group AKB48 sent the media into overdrive by expressing her disgust at the film’s cold-blooded portrayal of a high school massacre. It was likely a finely-orchestrated gambit on the part of the movie’s promotional team, but there has been no such controversy over two new high-profile productions with even more disturbing subject matter: Kazuyoshi Kumakiri’s “My Man” and Tetsuya Nakashima’s “The World of Kanako.” The former focuses intimately on incest while the latter is a clamorous parade of human corruption. But both movies revolve around underage, self-aware, and precocious female characters who are sexualized and portrayed as monstrous entities. [ read more ]
My Man which features Nikaido and Tadanobu Asano as the lead characters has a rather ambiguous trailer but if you've watched carefully you may wonder what type of relationship they have.Read more...
The Drudgery Train (Kueki Ressha) features the "quasi-bromance" between Kengo Kora and Mirai Moriyama, where the latter was nominated for Best Actor at the Japan Academy Prize for his antagonistic performance as the sex-starved, dim-witted young man who fell for a young bookstore clerk played by former AKB48 member Atsuko Maeda.
As usual, Kengo Kora's second lead, gets more than his share of the spotlight, which equals the intensity of the anti-hero played by his co-star Moriyama (who is always at his best). Kora plays Moriyama's best friend and they started out fine, however, once Maeda got involved in the scene, their friendship began to disintegrate...
What the Movie is all about: 19-year-old dropout Kanta (Mirai Moriyama) lives a hopelessly destitute life, fuelled by alcohol and peep-shows, in Japan’s bubble era.
After befriending colleague Shoji and landing a date with used-book shop worker Yasuko, the unlikely bookworm Kanta appears to be moving in the right direction, only to discover life is not as easy as he thought.
Why you need to watch this movie: This is definitely a character-based movie with a lead character that is hard to like.
I have to admit, using the "quasi-bromance" may be considered a bit far-fetched as the relationship between Kora and Moriyama's characters are far from being close to each other. In fact, there were scenes of rivalry between the two, and the characters of each are really on opposite poles. But their inter-action at the beginning serves as an intro of what's to come out next. Moriyama's character is not one you can easily symphatize or identify with quite easily because he's not really a "good" character at all...Read more...
Key of Life (Kagi Dorobo no Mesoddo) is an acting showdown between Masato Sakai and Teruyuki Kagawa as loser-actor and ruthless hitman respectively.
It also showcase one of Ryoko Hirosue most appealing performances as a career woman bored of her office job. The wacky tale of identity switching makes this not only an entertaining movie but a definite hitlist of the actors' most amazing performances.
What the Movie is all about: A suicidal actor swaps places with a cold-hearted contract killer suffering from amnesia, leading to big trouble for a wannabe bride in this outrageous farce from Japan. When ruthless hit-man Kondo slips in the locker room and hits his head, luckless actor Takeshi switches keys - and identities - with him. But while Takeshi is living it up as one of Japan's most feared assassins, Kondo falls under the spell of Kanae -- a driven career woman with a wedding date, but no groom to walk her down the aisle. Later, when Kanae jogs Kondo's memory, the stage is set for pure comic mayhem. [ Narrative by Jason Buchanan ]
Why you need to watch this movie: Hirosue's supporting role in Departure is cool, but here you can see a different Ryioko Hirosue in the sense that she definitely proven herself more than capable of handling an initially "boring character" and transform it into someone more interesting. Her understated acting really complements Kagawa and Sakai's characters.
Many complain of Hirosue's inability to "act" but in this movie, she definitely proved herself as an actress capable of understated acting with amazing results.Read more...
With one final episode to be released soon, the Japanese drama Wakamonotachi continues to reveal new twists and turns as the stellar cast put on a show that is not perfect, yet can be quite a thrilling ride with dramatic and comedic scenes out to impress (or depress) the viewers.
The Story so far... : Asahi (Satoshi Tsumabuki) raised his younger brothers and sister due to the deaths of their parents. Satoru (Eita), the second son was incarcerated for swindling an old lady of her millions. Hikari (Hikari Mitsushima) is the only girl among the five - is having an affair with a married man, who happens to be the Doctor she works with at the ICU for pediatric patients.
The other members of the family Haru (Tasuku Emoto) and Tadashi (Shuhei Nomura) are both students, with Haru still clinging to his theater club instead of looking for a job while Tadashi is on the verge of manhood, discovering his first love.Read more...
Aside from the highly-anticipated Parasyte movies, Shota Sometani is - once again - grabbing another important role, this time together with Masaka Okada and Riko Naruma in the live action adaptation of "Strayer's Chronicle" by Takayoshi Honda.
Experiments on babies and even during earlier stages of pregrancies that involved the child has been the subject of sci-fiction novels and of movies. For Strayer's Chronicles, there are hints of X-Men, Splice, The Boys from Brazil and many others.
Subaru (Masaki Okada) possesses amazing athletic abilities and vision while Saya (Riko Narumi) possesses super hearing abilities. They both grew up in the same experimental facility and is under the influence of Koichiro Watase (Tsuyoshi Ihara), a high-ranking Government official who also has political ambitions beyond his rank. They were then tasked to search and capture a runaway girl in possession of a secret file. Subaru, Saya and others become involved in the slaughter group "Ageha.", led by Manabu (Shota Sometani).
Asian Addicts Anonymous - Comprehensive reviews and recaps of exciting Japanese drama, including interesting post on Asian music and movie news.
Dorama Doll - a new blog that will feature recaps of selected Japanese dramas, most probably related to Johnny & Associates talents, with some great recommendations on what to watch if you're new to the J-drama scene.
Genkinahito's Blog - Reviews, news, box office results & some amazing insights into Japanese films, including manga and anime.
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.
Ritsu No Dorama Land - J-dorama reviews with a difference, complete with recaps that really complements the review.
OtherWhere - Excellent and varied trailer showcase, insightful reviews of Japanese movies (both indies and mainstream), and a great resource for news on Studio Ghibli too!