Casting News + Scoop! [Nov 8-14] Ghost in the Shell; The “Museum” trio of Shun Oguri, Satoshi Tsumabuki & Shuhei Nomura + Amane Okayama’s Poetry Angel

Scarlett Johansson figured prominently in the latest trailer for the upcoming Ghost in the Shell, enhanced to a certain degree by the music inspired by Depeche Mode ‘Enjoy the Silence’. Beat Takeshi, as to be expected, is shown to maximum impact. 

Ghost in the Shell is an upcoming American science fiction film directed by Rupert Sanders and written by Jonathan Herman and Jamie Moss, based on the Japanese manga of the same name by Masamune Shirow. The film stars Scarlett Johansson, Pilou Asbæk, Takeshi Kitano, Juliette Binoche, and Michael Pitt. Cyborg counter-cyberterrorist field commander The Major (Scarlett Johansson), and her task force Section 9 thwart cyber criminals and hackers. Now, they must face a new enemy who will stop at nothing to sabotage Hanka Robotic’s artificial intelligence technology [ Wiki ]

I would have appreciated seeing Rinko Kikuchi in the title role (or even Fumi Nikaido, or any newly discovered aspiring Japanese actress for that matter), but this is a Hollywood produced movie after all. [ First trailer after the jump! ]

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Woman: Episodes 8-11 – Forgiveness, Atonement & Acceptance – How a Single Mother Survives & How her Family Endures

This is the final part of our Woman review, we look back at the last four episodes, a list of favorite scenes, reactions from the viewers, excellent reviews from fellow bloggers and final thoughts on the whole drama.

My friend and fellow blogger Heisui @My Drama Tea remarked that she has no favorite episodes anymore because all the episodes since the 6th were incredible and just so awesome. I agree with her, but there is simply one episode that I love the most – Ep 9, and I’ll get into the details later… After delaying for a few weeks, I think that watching the remaining episodes in a marathon was both an exhilarating, inspiring and intense experience for me. Family, is after all, what matters and this show presents us with a family filled with characters who are vulnerable, imperfect, biased but definitely human.

The two kids, especially Nozomi, are not entirely clueless to what’s going on. They have some idea about their Mom being at odds with their grandma, and that there is something “unsaid” about their relationship. Koharu’s half-sister circles like a dark character in a comics book, about to spread something sinister and malicious – which she did in the previous episode – revealing her role in the death of Koharu’s husband. Episode 8 has an atmosphere of expectations and painful separation.

Koharu decided to confront Sachi about her sister’s behavior and admission. Their mom apparently has a secret she’s trying desperately to hide, and Koharu’s confusion turned into deep suspicion about her and Shiori’s hidden agenda. As Sachi and Kentaro return, Koharu goes on the offensive. Sachi is, of course, aware of the previous confrontation between her daughters and it shows – she became very receptive to Koharu – to the point of being super nice to her.

I heard her clearly. “I was the one,” she said. It was because of my lie that it turned out like that. Koharu recalls her conversation with Shiori and tells her Mom.

Still, Sachi defended Shiori which further infuriates Koharu. Owning to the tragedy by a flimsy excuse of giving her daughter’s husband pears.

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Woman: Episodes 6 & 7- Forgiveness, Atonement & Acceptance – How a Single Mother Survives & How her Family Endures

Woman will probably remain one of the most enduring dramas I have the opportunity to watch. In this time where most viewers are addicted to light and most often mediocre Korean shows, this highly affecting and greatly acted Japanese drama started out very strong, faltered in the middle but moved viewers to tears during its finale.

You may have read my last Episode review of Woman (Ep 5) where I predicted one of its conclusions – Shiori’s atonement and the opportunity for her to help and save her half-sister. But let me take a closer look at Episodes 6-10 and the finale. Each of these episodes has presented vital clues to the tragedy that struck the family, and in turn, help us understand the actions and reactions of the various members of the Uesugi and Aoyagi families.

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Woman: Episode 1 – Hikari Mitsushima & Yuko Tanaka in an acting showdown!

Hikari Mitsushima is a formidable actress, and so is Yuko Tanaka. In the latest Japanese drama entitled Woman, from acclaimed writer Yuji Sakamoto, the two actresses play mother and daughter. 

The first episode introduces the viewers to the lives of a single mom and her two young children. The tragic death of the father was carefully revealed and the strained relationship between Mitsushima’s character (as the daughter, Koharu) and of Tanaka’s (as the Mom, Sachi). 

We soon learned that Sachi Uesugi (Tanaka) left her family for another man. Koharu Aoyagi (Mitsushima) is bitter from the supposed abandonment. There is also a connection between Sachi and Koharu’s husband which may be considered a major factor in his death. 

A mysterious young woman (Fumi Nikaido) appears to be fascinated with the dead Shin Aoyagi (Shun Oguri) who draws the young man from one of his photos in a studio. This mysterious girl may hold the key to Shin’s death.

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Crows Explode! Masahiro Higashide competes with Crows Zero gods Shun Oguri, Takayuki Yamada & Miura Haruma!

Handpicked to spearhead the new Crows Explode movie is newcomer (but already award winner) Masahiro Higashide. He is expected to continue the tradition set by such top actors Shun Oguri, Takayuki Yamada, and Haruma Miura, in what is considered one of the most successful movie franchise in Japan – the Crows Zero series.

To be directed byToyoda Toshiaki, the new movie will continue the Crows saga, and begins when Shun Oguri’s character graduates from the infamous Suzuran. Toshiaki, considered by Twitch as ” something of the patron saint of disaffected youth.” is no stranger to the portrayal of youth in movies. He cast Ryuhei Matsuda in one of the actor’s earliest movies, Blue Spring. He also included Matsuda in Nine Souls, perhaps his most accomplished movie of all.

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What’s so special about The Woodsman and The Rain?

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.

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 ]

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