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 ]
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 Part 1, I rant about mediocrity and who personifies uninspired, boring performances - Emi Takei and Ayame Gouriki top the list. But hey, if you're going to bash them and tell us how bad they act, you also need to tell us about the good ones, you might say, right? So, here we have them - six names - some probably unknown to you, some you may have seen in short glimpses...
Dramatic, intense, deliberate acting from beautiful and talented young Japanese actresses - take note of my use of the word AND - because in all honesty, my question remains valid - why would I settle for any pretty actress who can't act?
Nobody to watch Over Me is Japan's entry to the Best Foreign Film. It did not win the award but it brought the spotlight to Mirai Shida. But Shida has been on the spotlight since she was cast in Yoji Yamada's Kabei: Our Mother (where she acted together with the great Yasuri Yoshinaga and Tadanobu Asano).
With Rookie of the Year awards in both D'Elan and Japan Academy Prize, Shida is already a "veteran" of 20 drama series and about a dozen full-lenght films.Read more...
Bunny Drop (Usagi Drop) is a tale about a single young man (Kenichi Matsuyama) who decided to raise by himself the illegitimate daughter (Mana Ashida) of his grandfather. While it may appear to be a "father-daughter" relationship, it is more like brother-little sister. It is, in fact, the young man's "half aunt" whom he is raising.
With dramatic, funny, endearing scenes, Matsuyama and the young Ashida convincingly portrayed their characters with lots of humility and passion. Based on Yumi Unita's popular manga series "Usagi Drop", the movie was an acting vehicle for Mana Ashida and showed us some glimpse of what she can offer as a child actress.
What the movie is all about: When Daikichi attends the burial of his grandfather he sees a six-year-old girl called Rin running around the estate. To the embarrassment of the whole family, she appears to be a hidden daughter who gramps sired in the past on his young maid. The mother has since disappeared, leaving Rin in the care of the old man.
When the family coldly discusses how to get rid of the girl by way of orphanage, Daikichi grows disgusted with them all and in a flash of righteousness he tells Rin that she can go live with him for a while, to everyone's shock and horror. Rin accepts...
But Daikichi is a a thirty-year-old single guy who gladly spends his evenings either boozing with colleagues or improving his career through massive overwork. And he quickly learns that his current lifestyle may not be all that compatible with being a single father, as Rin needs plenty of attention and shows signs of emotional damage. On the other hand there is an almost audible click between Rin and Daikichi from day one onward.
But the sheer logistics of the situation (arranging regular meals, picking up Rin from the daycare, getting up at night whenever she wets her bed...) is grinding Daikichi to bits and he is forced to make some pretty drastic decisions... [ Storyline via Twitch, by Ard Vijn ]
Why you need to watch this movie: One of the major reasons why I stick with Japanese films compared with, say French or German (a review blog is actually suspended) and Korean and/or Chinese (had the chance to actually do reviews at DramaFever) is the line up of exciting actors I find certain emotional attachments to.
After watching Norwegian Wood, I just thought Matsuyama is one of the most intense actor I have the experience to watch and Bunny Drop is the 4th movie I saw that features the actor. My high regard of him remains, and as an added bonus, watching Mana Ashida before her famed Pacific Rim role is more than a breath of fresh air- she is the face of the future as far as Japanese actresses are concerned.Read more...
Don't believe what others may have said about this 2011 Japanese movie entitled Into the White Night (Byakuyako). It is neither boring nor illogical. In fact, it's more than a murder-mystery but a look into love and obssession and features very dark (menacing even) performance from talented actor Kengo Kora, with an amazing portrayal by Maki Horikita as the abused yet shrewd and ambitious Yukiho in what maybe considered one of her acting milestones.
Directed by Yoshihiro Fukagawa, it was screened in the Main Programme of the Panorama section at the 61st Berlin International Film Festival and is based on a novel by Keigo Higashino.A South Koran film of the same title and from the same source was made two years earlier.
What the Movie is all about: A pawn shop owner in Osaka is murdered, but due to a lack of conclusive evidence the police lists the man's death as a suicide. Detective Sasagaki, who investigated the case, can't forget the main suspect's daughter Yukiho (Maki Horikita) and the pawn shop owner's son Ryoji. Yukiho and her mother live in one of the poorest neighborshoods in town, but she looks out of place, with expensive clothes and an even more expensive perfume. What seems to be the mystery behind this girl?
As time goes by, more mysterious deaths surround Yukiho and Ryoji. Detective Sasagaki, still unable to let go of the pawn shop owner case, discovers startling details about Yukiho and Ryoji.
Why you need to watch this movie: Precisely because this is one of Maki Horikita's best performances to date.
Gone is the doe-eyed girl who pretended to be a boy to get close to her hero Izumi Sano (played by Shun Oguri) in the drama Hana Kimi. What we will see is a young woman who always gets what she wants in both persuasive ways and/or otherwise. There is a dark side to her clean, wholesome exterior. Matching her scene by scene is an equally dark (and probably more disturbed) character played by Kengo Kora who was her childhood friend and protector. Not revealing too much, you would be intrigued by the kind of relationship they both had - right from the start until the very end.Read more...
Hikari Mitsushima, Yu Aoi, Mao Inoue, Aoi Miyazaki, Yoko Maki, Yuriko Yoshitaka have, indeed, already graduated from playing teen/youth-oriented roles. You can also add the names of Haruka Ayase, Masami Nagasawa, Maki Horikita, Erika Toda, Juri Ueno (even Aya Ueto) and Erika Sawajiri to the list, so are we supposed to watch mediocrity, bland, uninspired acting from now on?
Certainly not in the case of a few exceptional newcomers (i.e. those who came after the names of the actresses above) - Fumi Nikaido, Ai Hashimoto, Erina Mizuno to name just a few. But to endure J-doramas starring Emi Takei and Ayame Gouriki? Hey Japanese talent agencies, are there no one else to rock the scene and make us happy?
People keep asking me, is Emi Takei a good actress? Labeling someone as capable of good acting and starring in good J-dorama are still subjective, but when many people complain, I guess it's about time we re-examine how we look at good and bad actresses. In the case of Takei, while she managed to portray her Rurouni Kenshin character, it's one of the easiest roles to play anyway - what Yu Aoi did is even more challenging.Read more...
The first film awards in Japan has just released its set of winners. The 6th Tama Film Awards awarded the Best Film of the year to two - Yuya Ishii's Our Family and Nobuhiko Obayashi's Seven Weeks. Major acting awards went to Fumi Nikaido and Chizuru Ikewaki for Best Actress while Satoshi Tsumabuki and Yo Oizumi won Best Actor.
I am not particularly familiar with Nobuhiko Obayashi's work but there was an article raving about his previous movie named House made in 1977 but went on to receive international acclaim only recently. Twitch did an interview with the director when the movie was shown at Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival :
Seven Weeks follows the lives of several members of the same family as they gather to mourn the death of the family's patriarch, Suzuki Mitsuo. Suzuki's past is recounted by the surviving members as secrets are uncovered and relationships explored. It's a narratively dense film with its own visual style and kinetic editing that threatens to lose the viewer amidst complex themes of war-time guilt, the loss of communities and the macabre relationships between the living and the dead. Like House, it's an utterly unique film and a singular artistic vision that's complex, mysterious and utterly deserving of the widest possible audience. [ read more ]Read more...
Amachan's Rena Nounen has come a long way from playing one of the most popular characters in morning J-dramas to establishing her foothold as one of today's up and coming young actress. In Princess Jellyfish, she gets to play a similar role - that of a naive, yet good-hearted girl. As Tsukumi, she dreams of becoming an illustrator but has no self-confidence and never had a good experience dating boys.
Enters a male university student named Kuranosuke (Masaki Suda) who "dresses like a woman because he was raised at the side of his powerful politician father and he does not want to become a politician."
Just from the trailer you can imagine how wacky the young actor is! In a recent interview, Masaki Suda was quoted as saying, comedy is his favorite genre, and in Princess Jellyfish he gets to cross-dress and do comedic acts!
Watch the just released trailer + screenshots after the jump!Read more...
Another dramatic role to sink her teeth into! Fumi Nikaido will play the lead role - Satoko - in the upcoming book to movie adaptation of Kono Kuni no Sora, according to Japanese entertainment site Cinra. Based on the award-winning novel "Kono Kuni no Sora" by Yuichi Takai, the movie is to be directed by scriptwriter-turned director Haruhiko Arai. To play Nikaido's love interest and her neighbor in the movie is Hiroki Hasegawa as Ichikawa.
The movie is set during the final days of WWII when Japan is about to surrender to the Allied forces. Because of the bleak future, Satoko feels there is no need for her to get married, even though she is of that age. However, she began to show some interest in her neighbor, Ichikawa. The older man was not doing military service as a result of his physical disability. They began to get close to each other...
Nikaido did a similar role as a young girl who began to have romantic thoughts in Au revoir l' ete (Hotori no Sakuko) but this new film maybe even more challenging. The author, Yuichi Takai, has been awarded with prestigious recognitions for his books and Arai who has elevated his role from being a scriptwriter into finally becoming the director has something to prove. Arai is the writer behind such acclaimed movies as Tomogui, A Woman and War, Vibrator and the upcoming Kabukicho Love Hotel (starring Shota Sometani).
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.