Winning the Special Jury Prize at the 2011 Tokyo International Film Festival and the Nippon Cinema Award at the 2012 Nippon Connection, the Woodsman and the Rain is not just for arthouse audiences.

The Woodsman and the Rain - poster

Variety posted a positive review of the film saying:

Japanese star Koji Yakusho ("Shall We Dance?" and "Babel") plays the titular lumberjack whose life is interrupted by a visiting movie crew in "The Woodsman and the Rain," a film-within-a-film comedy-drama whose sustained charm will amuse film buffs everywhere. After competing in the Tokyo fest, Shuichi Okita's pic looks to garner respectable B.O. on its domestic bow in February; more fest slots are assured, but savvy distribs could help "The Woodsman" branch into arthouse niches offshore. Recently widowed Katsu (Yakusho) is peacefully chainsawing a tree in the middle of the deserted Nakatsugawa forest where he makes his living. A nervous, middle-aged film production assistant (Kanji Furutachi) emerges from the wilderness just as the tree is falling and, after narrowly avoiding getting crushed (spectacularly captured in an impressive wide shot), asks the woodsman to be quiet because a film crew is shooting a zombie movie nearby. [ read more ]

Says filmmaker Toshiaki Toyoda about his movie, Monsters Club:

This is the story about a young man living in a cabin in remote place outside of urban culture and away from all things. Living by himself in the winter covered mountains, we see the emotional survival of the person depicted. I was really thinking about the Unibomber in America. The Unabomber was quite strict, he did not bomb everywhere but was rather making a statement and was thinking about how to make things a little bit different, asking maybe, the question of the people and a question to the people living in a world of egoism. We've got the pyramid in our society. You have the top and then the bottom. I have been asking people: how are we going to survive in this pyramid world?! [ source ]

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After we posted the positive reviews on Hard Romanticker, it's inevitable that we mention Monsters Club, since it stars Eita Nagayama, another top Japanese actor who figured prominently in our Top 30 Hottest Japanese Actors.

Shota Matsuda's performance in Hard Romanticker continues to impress film critics worldwide. The latest buzz for Matsuda's work in this Gu Su-yeon's film is from Twitch.

Shota Matsuda in Hard Romanticker

As part of the blog's Japan Cuts 2012 Preview, Peter Gutierrez said:

You'll certainly be forgiven for experiencing any symptoms of aesthetic déjà vu while watching Gu Su-yeon's flamboyant slice-of-crime opus: with the sound and fury of '70s-era Kinji Fukasaku fight scenes, the overall coolness of Seijun Suzuki, and the off-handed (and borderline absurd) brutality of Takashi Miike's gangster flicks, Hard Romantciker is clearly a treat for a particular brand of cinephile. That said, writer-director Gu does come across as his own artist, not a copycat auteur and, frankly, he's too busy telling a personal story to care much about what cinephiles think. Indeed, even the film's beginning makes few concessions to the audience, opening with a flashforward which is hard to recognize as such and then introducing several characters and relationships in rapid-fire succession before settling down with our point-of-view character. [ read more ]

Shota has done some amazing performances throughout his career, but his role in this movie, is the one that really showcase his talent. It's not an easy role to play nor will it impress most of his fanbase, but it says one thing - Shota wants to prove he's an actor!

More after the jump!

Finally a live action movie for Samurai X. For those in the know, don't criticize me for calling the manga Samurai X. I know that there was some confusion as to why it was called as such in the US. The 'authentic' title of the manga is Rurouni Kenshin.

The much beloved adventure story of Himura Kenshin has undergone many adaptations in various media and finally come August 25, the live action version will hit Japan and definitely a few months (or weeks, hopefully) in other parts of Asia and mainland USA. 

Backgrounder: Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Swordsman Romantic Story also known as Rurouni Kenshin and Samurai X, is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Nobuhiro Watsuki. The fictional setting takes place during the early Meiji period in Japan. The story is about a fictional assassin named Himura Kenshin, from the Bakumatsu who becomes a wanderer to protect the people of Japan. Watsuki wrote this series upon his desire of making a shōnen manga different from the other ones that were published in that time, with Kenshin being a former assassin and the story taking a more serious tone as it continued. Although the tragic tone was highly expanded as the manga advanced, Watsuki became determined to give it a happy ending as it was aimed at teenagers.

Kat-Tun's Livejournal community recently announced the latest casting news featuring Kamenashi Kazuya. The movie will be called "It's me, It's me" (Ore, Ore). It is based on Tomoyuki Hoshino's bestselling novel of the same title.

Here's the juice:

Kame has landed the leading role in the movie Ore Ore (It's Me, It's Me) whose release date is planned for next spring. He plays the main role, Nagano Hitoshi, who works in a consumer electronics volume seller. Kame's character picks up the phone of an unknown man and does an "ore ore sagi." (Oreore sagi - "me me fraud"; literally. The fraud is the kind of telephone fraud.) Then the day after, a man (Daiki? not sure of kanji reading) with "ore" same face appears, then also another "ore" called Nao appears. Then day after day, the unknown "ore"s multiplies until, starting from an incident caused by Nao, the "deletion" of the many "ore"s starts, and an image with a killed ore is sent to the main character's place.

"The highlight is Kamenashi's cosplay. To show the world that will become "ORE," without minding age or gender, he'll cover 25 characters, from big breast to afro, tattoos all over the body, career woman, high school student." [ source ]

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