Japan Society’s Japan Cuts Film Festival 2011
Posted on July 1, 2011 by Chris Nelson
Just a quick note to alert you to Japan Society’s Japan Cuts film festival. This is one festival I wish we had here in the bay Area. I’m totally jealous of you, New York! Just check out the lineup!
Japan Cuts is actually “the largest showcase of contemporary Japanese cinema” in the US, and will be showing 32 films in 33 screenings (yes, most screen only once, so it’s important to catch them if you can), from July 7th to July 22nd. The festival also features 10 “co-presentations” with the New York Asian Film Festival.
And here are a few trailers for flicks we’re particularly excited about (descriptions from the Japan Society website. Links go to the films pages directly):
Sounds like it could be cheeky fun, or tragic drama.
A lonely, nerdy office worker moonlighting as a porn actress finds her two lives increasingly intertwined. The verge of breakdown is nigh.
Kou Shibasaki? I’m totally there.
Like a Grimm’s fairy tale on LSD, with magical morsels of mouth-watering food in the mix. Female director Mai Tominaga’s second feature tells the story of a young woman (Kou Shibasaki) who loses her voice after a bad break-up with her rakish Indian boyfriend. Her process of healing involves returning to her hometown, tastefully called “Titty Mountain Village”. There, she reacquaints herself with a free-spirited mother who cohabits with a cute, talking pig. Inspired, and armed with her grandma’s secret recipe, she opens a very special restaurant…
This one goes without saying. Kenichi Matsuyama!
The Gantz alien war games continue in Part II. Kei (Kazunari Ninomiya) is still playing, but added to his list of charges is protecting manga artist/love interest Tae (Yuriko Yoshitaka) from mysterious black-clad and human-looking aliens. Grand, excessive, massively pop sci fi entertainment: If you are going to spend $22 million, this is the way to do it.
The latest update on the most popular samurai story of all times — that is, until Keanu Reeves and his gang blockbust it next year (a Warner version is in the works). Sixteen years after 47 ronin (masterless samurai) made history by avenging their lord’s death in a heroic raid and then committing ritual suicide, the sole survivor of the tragedy, Kichiemon Terasaka (Koichi Sato) travels the land on a mission to find the families of the fallen warriors. He unexpectedly comes across his close and long-time friend Magozaemon Senoo (Koji Yakusho) who ran away the day before the ronin uprising, betraying his comrades. Disguised as a merchant, he lives deep in a forest, protecting a secret so grave he even draws his sword against his old comrade, Terasaka Kichiemon.
An intriguing murder mystery.
A Dickensian murder mystery drama about the deadly, worldly ambition of a detached, ice-cold beauty, with a Twin Peaks edge and a Balzacian panorama of Japanese society from slums to salons that spans two decades, Into the White Night is the latest adaptation of top mystery novelist Keigo Higashino’s novel (a highly regarded 11-episode TBS TV drama from 2006, and a slick 2009 South Korean movie by Park Shin-woo, with Son Ye-jin, Go Su and Han Seok-gyu). 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 dark eyes of the main suspect’s daughter Yukiho (Maki Horikita) and the pawn shop owner’s son Ryouji.
Arch-icon of Japanese independent cinema Masashi Yamamoto (Robinson’s Garden, Carnival of the Night) returns with a film that stars Jun Murakami and an actress who truly needs no introduction: Sora Aoi. Three☆Points takes a cold, hard look at the rough edges of Japanese society in three locales: Kyoto, and its scene of rough-and-tumble semi-bohemian down-and-out rappers; Okinawa, where crab-hunting and hanging out with American GIs give a glimpse of Okinawans just getting by; Tokyo, where a girl named Saki falls into a strange and slightly terrifying relationship with a random Tokyo drifter (Murakami) who saves her from a street gang.
We were fans of Love Object, so why not?
The latest pump-up of the blow-up doll subgenre (Lars and the Real Girl, Air Doll) comes as a bit of a discreet boom. The directing debut of Hirokazu Kore-eda’s D.P., Yutaka Yamazaki, Torso, as the title helpfully suggests, features… a torso: a headless plastic trunk – complete with male member – that provides a measure of comfort and pleasure, soothing the urban solitude of an otherwise normal-looking (if a little easy on the eyes) woman in Tokyo.
A Night in Nude: Salvation
Little does Jiro, a man who can do anything for you for a price, know that the discovery of a beautiful woman’s Rolex in a heap of rotten carnage will lead to a sordid case filled with sex, violence, and peril, and sex, violence, and peril… and sex… and so on. In other words, it’s the neo-noir of the year: grand guignol, psychotronic… existential to the point of hysteria.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Be sure to check out their full lineup for many more awesome titles.