The 100 Best Contemporary Japanese Movies - Psycho Drama has launched 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 ]
Mikako Tabe and Gou Ayano are supposed to do challenging, realistic love scenes in the live action adaptation of Piece of Cake, based on the manga series (5 Volumes) by George Asakura. The movie will center on Tabe's character - Shino Umemiya - a young woman who has just escaped from an abusive relationship and moved away to find a new life. Enters Kyoshiro Sugahara (Gou Ayano) who happens to be her neighbor and also the manager of a bookstore where she works part-time.
While she has a "liberal outlook" in life and relationships, Shino is somewhat hesitant to pursue her attraction to Kyoshiro - the presence of Akari, his girlfriend adds to her dilemma. But is the young man also attracted to her? Will they become passionate lovers?
Tori Matsuzaka (who coincidentally is Ayano's co-star in Gatchaman) joins the cast as Shino's best friend, while Masaki Suda (Ayano's co-star in The Light Shines Only There) plays one of the bookstore's crew and interacts with Shino during work.
Having read the manga series by George Asakura, I will definitely enjoy doing this movie, and I know there will be some challenges with Gou Ayano as my co-star. There will be some romantic, intense, sexy scenes and I need to do real quality work here. Says Mikako Tabe, who has worked previously with Haruma Miura in The Hours of My Life and the previous sleeper hit Kimi ni Todoke (From Me to You).
I'm expecting some scene stealing from Masaki Suda, and really looking forward if there will be good chemistry between Tabe and Ayano.
The TV Drama special of the highly-successful Eien No Zero which broke box office records in Japan has an almost complete cast! Various Japanese entertainment sites reported the addition of Ryoko Hirosue and Kenta Kiritani as brother-sister tandem who will investigate the death of their biological grandfather, played by Osamu Mukai (Junichi Okada played the role in the movie version).
As previously reported, Aoi Nakamura will reprise the role played by Shota Sometani in the 2013 movie. I would say this is going to be a tall order for Nakamura, since Sometani's character is extensive and requires intense dramatization, but Nakamura has shown he also has what it takes to play dramatic characters. Nakamura topbills Tokyo Refugees as a student who became a club host.
Ryoko Hirosue will play the role of Keiko Saeki, portrayed in the movie by Kazue Fukiishi while Kenta Kiritani will take over the role originally played by Haruma Miura as the law student who kept on failing his bar exams - Kentaro Saeki. The role played by Mao Inoue (Matsuno) is yet to be announced.Read more...
Kentaro Sakaguchi created quite a stir when it was announced that he'll model for the manga character Daiki Mamura, one of the main characters in Hirunaka no Ryusei. But further reports revealed that he was actually the "pattern" or inspiration for Mamura. Sakaguchi was an exclusive male model for Men's Non-No and has established a record of sorts by appearing in the magazine as the sole cover.
In the span of 1 year since he announced that he will pursue an acting career, he already had 3 movies in various state of production - Shanti Days 365 Days, Happy Breath is his first movie, and he's cast in a bit role. Two feature films are scheduled for release in 2015 including the Yasuko Matsuyuki-Yutaka Takenouchi drama-thriller called At Home, where Sakaguchi will play one of the kids. This might be a fun start for the young actor as the story is about a thief and a swindler (played by Takenouchi and Matsuyuki respectively) where Matsuyuki was kidnapped by someone she is supposed to take money from.
The other film is called Otoko no Isshou, where he plays another supporting role with Nana Eikura as the lead.
I’m currently studying acting so I really want to be an actor. Little by little and slowly, I want to increase the number of people that know me, says Sakaguchi in an interview. He also revealed that he admires most of Studio Ghibli productions and that his favorite movies include Blue Spring (starring Ryuhei Matsuda)Read more...
Did you ever think dramas can beat movies? Probably if you have not seen the work of Sion Sono, among the best Japanese filmmakers working today. I mean, yes you can enjoy the weekly run of dramas ranging from police-detective-crime, romance, family conflicts and sci-fi, but if you come to think about it, there is no way these can match a singular cinematic experience as you join fellow moviegoers in a dark theater while absorbing the tragedy or inspiration from a movie that runs for 2 hours or less...
In Himizu, you are transported from the comforts of your existence and set to witness the lives of two inexperienced, yet resilient highschool students - Yuichi Sumida (Shota Sometani) and Keiko Chazawa (Fumi Nikaido). Winners of the prestigious Marcello Mastroianni Award at the 68th Venice Film Festival, this movie is a hard-hitting dystopian drama set after the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan back in 2011.
Can a movie completely distilled the current state of Japanese society? This is what, I believed, the director is aiming for. Sumida represents the future of Japan, and his anguish for his mother's abandonment, his despair for his father's cruelty, his desperation and anger for the Yakuza reflect what some of Japanese youth maybe facing in real life. As they say, is there a light at the end of the tunnel? You have to watch it for yourself to find out.Read more...
One of the very first Japanese movies I have ever watched that I fell absolutely in love with. I mean, who can resists Haruka Ayase, anyone? She certainly is not a dramatic actress in the same league as Hikari Mitsushima or even Yoko Maki but when it comes to the rom-com genre/light drama, no one can beat her.
In Cyborg She, she plays an advance robot prototype who travels back in time in order to rescue her maker - who is completely unaware of her true identity. Think of The Terminator but instead of a robot (Schwarzenegger) out to kill a target, imagine a female counterpart who protects and do good deeds to society. But as what happens between a man and a woman living together, romance is supposed to bloom, but again, can a robot have feelings and reciprocate the love?
I know... I know sounds too hard to believe, but this time I want you to suspend your disbelief and just go with the flow. There are certainly a lot of amazing cinematic moments and in this case, as with Le Maison de Himiko, these scenes will get to you and you'll probably remember them months from the time of your first viewing.
I love Cyborg-She to the point that I have to watch it even once a month to relive these scenes.
Keisuke Koide is perfect for the role as Jiro Kitamura, the cyborg's maker. He has his own set of funny bones and he has a number of awesome comedic scenes in the movie as well.
Movie's Cinematic Moment: Definitely the rescue scene when Jiro was about to die due to the massive earthquake that hits Tokyo. The cyborg - even at the cost of its life - rescues Jiro, damaged by falling debris she was cut in two but still she struggles and ultimately rescues her maker.
I have an upcoming interview with a relatively new Japanese filmmaker who created quite a stir in the recent Montreal Film Festival. His movie is sort of a "Boys-Love-drama-mystery-in-your-face-look" at relationships. Which brings me to another project @PsychoDrama - awesome cinematic moments.
With more than 40 full-length films to his credit, Joe Odagiri has already established an "iconic" status in Japan. I actually find it funny that a recent interview with Tadanobu Asano called him as the Japanese Johnny Depp, when it should have been Odagiri. Anyway, we're gearing up towards our Top 10 Cinematic Moments - Japan Edition, and what better way to start than to show a clip featuring the dance scene in what probably is one of the most divisive Japanese movies, as far as audience and critics are concerned - Le Maison de Himiko.
Batrock's Alexander Doenau reviewed the film and a part of his review really resonates to a fellow moviefan like me, says Doenau:
La Maison de Himiko effortlessly balances humour with drama, and never once tries to force emotions on its audience. From the pure joy of a dance scene to the unbridled horror of a magical girl dance routine, La Maison de Himiko is a carefully measured film that can give its viewers hints but respects them enough to leave the ultimate decision in their hands. That takes a kind of courage rarely seen in an industry that measures its worth on the amount of tissues disposed of. [ read more ]
La Maison de Himiko tells the story of a gay father who wanted to make peace with his estranged daughter and in order to meet her again, he sets up his lover to convince her to come and visit. Feeling rejected and left alone to fend for herself, Saori Yoshida (Kou Shibasaki) is bitter and to visit her father who resides in a gay nursing home is probably more than she can bear.
Min Tanaka of The Twilight Samurai fame and a renowed dancer plays Himiko.
Movie's Cinematic Moment: The scene featuring Joe Odagiri and Kou Shibasaki and a host of gay characters who danced to the tune of "Till We Meet Again" by Ozaki Kiyohiko remixed by Yoshihiro Sawasaki.
There are some exciting new Japanese titles featured in the current Tokyo International Film Festival, and we'll have some hitlist soon. But one movie that is getting some attention is the Filipino-German co-production, featuring Tadanobu Asano who plays a hitman. He was supposed to rescue a prostitute played by Mexican actress Nathalia Acevedoas. Shot in the Philippines, this movie entitled Ruined Heart is directed by Filipino filmmaker Khavn.
Asano did an interview with Rappler, excerpts follow:
"I hope I’m a very nice guy," he said. "Some people like the Yakuza - these people are, like, very bad. But their life is very interesting, their story is very interesting.
"My face is not like a hero['s]," he added.
He may not be privvy to the underworld, as he claims, but Asano also relates his part to his personal circumstances.
"The situation [with my character] is very similar. My character is Japanese but he is in the Philippines, [with the] Philippine Mafia. And I’m with a [Filipino] crew. So maybe there’s kind of [an] adjustment with the surroundings." [ read more ]
Inside a classroom, a teacher's head explodes and a talking masked doll forced everyone to play a game of life and death... Topbilled by Sota Fukushi and Hirona Yamazaki, the latest Takashi Miike film continues the bloodbath tradition of the maverick Japanese director. Miike also cast Ryunosuke Kamiki (as second lead) and Shota Sometani playing a supporting part.
It should be noted that Kamiki's win as Rookie of the Year was in a Miike movie, The Great Yokai War. In the trailer, Kamiki figured quite prominently, with menacing, evil looks! Can't wait to see how he'll grab the spotlight once again.
Atsuko Maeda also lend her voice as she plays one of the masked dolls in this supernatural-drama-thriller-comedy. I don't know if anyone else can pull this kinda movie off, but certainly Takashi Miike can surprise even his loyal audience up to now.
In partnership with Coventry University and Third Window Films, East Winds will be celebrating East Asian film and culture through a selection of 11 International, European and UK Premieres from Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Thailand, ranging from star-studded action blockbusters and chilling horrors to touching dramas and delightful comedies.
Alongside some pretty major titles such as the European Premieres of 'Partners in Crime', 'Z Storm', 'Record of Sweet Murder' and 'Teacher's Diary' (Thailand's Oscar submission) there are also many other UK premieres and 2 new Third Window genre titles: 'Greatful Dead' and 'The Lust of Angels' which will play.
More details at the Film Festival website
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.
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.
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!
The Corner of the Mind - Drama reviews (with detailed analysis of up and coming dramas via first impressions) and anime spotlights.