Archive for the ‘Japan’ Category

The Great SXSW 2010 Preview Dump: SX Fantastic

March 11, 2010

24 hours, over a hundred films, and that’s just our bloody preview. The madness finally comes to end with this perky sidebar that celebrates SXSW’s onnection with Austin’s other great film festival, September’s Fantastic Fest. The line-up might seem more selective than past years, but the program promises a “special event TBA.” So there’s always that. In the meantime, sate your mind-bending with a honorable assortment of Japanese vampires, porno actors and the usual head-fuckery.

Read our SXSW Headliners preview.
Read the first part of our SXSW Spotlight Premieres preview.
Read the second part of our SXSW Spotlight Premieres preview.
Read our SXSW Narrative Features Competition preview.
Read our SXSW Documentary Features Competition preview.
Read the first part our SXSW Emerging Visions preview.
Read the second part our SXSW Emerging Visions preview.
Read our SXSW Lone Star States preview.
Read our SXSW 24 Beats Per Second preview.
Read our SXSW SW Global preview.
Read the first part of our SXSW Festival Favorites preview.
Read the second part of our SXSW Festival Favorites preview.
Read the third part of our SXSW Festival Favorites preview.
Read our SXSW Midnighters preview.

Higanjima

Akira’s life has been marked by the prolonged absence of his brother. Then he learns that the boy has been seen on Higanjima Island. There’s a few catches. The island is said to be inhabited by vampires and no one has ever returned from its shores. Of course, that’s never stopped anybody in a Japanese horror film. South Korean filmmaker Tae-gyun Kim (Volcano High) orchestrates this manga adaptation.

Monsters

Sometime in the future, Mexico has been completely quarantined after the crash landing of an infected probe. While the military wage war with the creatures that fell to earth, a journalist and a tourist try to jump the border into the Infected Zone. Writer-director Gareth Edwards’ sci-fi film revisits District 9 territory to make some smart points about immigration amid the flying tentacles.

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Happy Birthday, Ken Takakura!

February 16, 2010

Happy Birthday, Masaki Kobayashi!

February 14, 2010

Western Union: Hirokazu Kore-eda

February 11, 2010

“Before we made this film, we actually bought an air doll, filled it up, and put it in a conference room. We tested putting its air out. When she’s full, she was just plastic. But when the air went out of her, there’s something about the way her knees bent that felt very erotic to all the males in the room. For me, it’s a portrait of the difference in how men and women approach sex: she wants to be fulfilled; he wants to unfill her.”

Hirokazu Kore-eda on pre-production for Air Doll (via Time Out Hong Kong)

Berlin 2010 Preview: Forum, Part 3

February 11, 2010

Yeah, so the Berlin Film Festival has probably started already. This may still be of use to somebody. The Forum section is traditionally populated by newbies and experimental filmmakers. This year, several themes have emerged, among them the importance of labor and the plight of women in the modern economic system. The third part of our Forum preview has a particularly feminist bent, with documentary filmmakers tackling life in both ultra-Orthodox Israel and ultra-crazy North Korea. After it all, though, we end with a zippy Taiwanese comedy about a guy who just wants to visit his Parisian girlfriend. Click on the titles to watch trailers.

Click here to read the first part of our Forum preview.
Click here to read the second part of our Forum preview.

Pus (Haze)

A handgun and a photograph lead a young DVD pirate to become involved in a troubled couple’s lives. Director Tayfun Pirselimoglu situates this noir threesome in the industrial outskirts of Istanbul, where the atmosphere is as potent as Eraserhead’s distillation of Philadelphia.

Putty Hill

American filmmaker Matt Porterfield uses the day before a junkie’s funeral to scrutinize the rest of the family. In a faux documentary style, Porterfield creates deft sketches of put-upon skate punks and their impressively inked parents.

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Berlin 2010 Preview: Forum, Part 2

February 11, 2010

Forum is the section where Berlineastes seek out the freshest filmmakers doing their bit to push back the form’s parameters. The second part of our Forum preview kicks off with a conventional gangster story, but there’s wilder stuff in store. How about a musical version of a 1928 Communist classic from Japan, for instance? Or maybe a mad romance from Goa? Other highlights include the new film from Laura Poiras and more from the Japan, South Korea and Taiwan vanguard. Click on the titles to watch trailers.

Click here to read the first part of our Forum preview.

Indigène d’Eurasie (Eastern Drift)

Career criminal Gena has gone from extorting protection fees to dealing drugs. Now he wants out. His decision means going on the run. In a race across Europe reminiscent of Wim Wenders’s glory years, Gena reflects on his life. Through his frantic character, Lithuanian director and star Sharunas Bartas’s film sketches a criminal history of the continent.

Kanikōsen (The Crab Cannery Ship)

Takiji Kobayashi’s 1929 agitprop novel has come back into fashion thanks to discontent with the Japanese economic system. Director Sabu (Drive) adapts the time-honored story of a ship divided between downtrodden workers and vicious bosses, throwing in some singing and dancing along the way. With Nightmare Detective’s Ryuhei Matsuda.

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Berlin 2010 Preview: Generations, Part 3

February 10, 2010

It may be true that all you need to make a film is a girl and a gun, but children have been an integral element since the Lumieres photographed a baby’s luncheon in 1895. Berlin’s Generations sidebar continues the tradition with over 50 features and shorts for and about those unknowable little buggers we like to call “the kids.” In the final installment of our preview, their stories range from life on the Georgia streets to South Korean orphanages to Michael Cera’s overactive imagination. Click on the titles to watch trailers.

Read the first part of our Berlin: Generations preview.
Read the second part of our Berlin: Generations preview.

Susa

Susa is a 12-year-old whose job delivering bootleg vodka takes him to some of the grimier corners of Georgia. He’s threatened by the police on one side and street gangs on the other. This grim existence is alleviated only by the promise that Susa’s father will one day return. Rusudan Pirveli’s feature debut also screened in the Bright Future sidebar at the 2010 Rotterdam Film Festival.

Te extraño (I Miss You)

Director Fabian Hofman’s film is set among Argentine exiles living in Mexico. The teenager Javier is haunted by the memory of his older brother, who was killed by the military junta. Everybody wants to Javier to be the leader Adrian was. But all Javier wants is to be himself—whoever that is.

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Berlin 2010 Preview: Generations, Part 2

February 10, 2010

While adults geek out on the latest from Scorsese and Polanski at this year’s Berlin Film Festival, the kids get their very own Generations sidebar. With films ranging from hard-hitting documentaries like Neukölln Unlimited to the sci-fi romance of SUMMER WARS, it’s a menu that caters to a very varied group of tastes. Some things remain constant, though, like bullying, pain-in-the-neck siblings, road trips and parents who just don’t seem to understand. Click on the titles to watch trailers.

Read the first part of our Berlin 2010 Film Festival: Generations preview.

Les Nuits de Sister Welsh (Sister Welsh’s Nights)

Emma (Naissance des pieuvres’s Louise Blachere) escapes from the pressures of teenage life by creating a fantasy world. It’s populated by her overbearing mother and the swooning heroine Sister Welsh, who yearns to escape her convent school for the hunky arms of Capt. Grant. Emma happily lives in her imaginative universe until a boy takes an interest. Directed by Jean-Claude Janer.

Neukölln Unlimited

A Lebanese family of hip-hop dancers living in Berlin’s Neukölln district is threatened with deportation. Lial and Hassan Akkouch raise money so their brother Maradona can stay in the country, but the youngster falls in with a bad crowd. Agostino Imondi and Dietmar Ratsch’s documentary is like Save the Last Dance if it were real. And good.

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Berlin 2010 Preview: Panorama Main/Special, Part 3

February 6, 2010

Starting with a Sapphic rock ‘n’ roll band and ending with an elegy for the Bolivian aristocracy, the final part of our Panorama preview contains a broad range of viewpoints. Of note is an Aki Kaurismaki-endorsed story of incest, stories of seclusion from Russia and Israel, a no holds barred biopic about Ian Dury and a charming collection of South Korean actresses. Click on the titles to watch trailers.

Read the first part of our Berlin Panorama preview.
Read the second part of our Berlin Panorama preview.
Read the first part of our Berlin Competition preview.
Read the second part of our Berlin Competition preview.

The Owls

An aging ex-members of a lesbian rock band get a kick up the behind by the appearance of a 20-year-old newcomer. Twisted passions lead to both rebirth and revenge. The ninth film from Liberian-born lesbian director Cheryl Dunye (My Baby’s Daddy) stars Guinevere Turner, best known for writing the screenplays to American Psycho and I Shot Andy Warhol.

Paha perhe (Bad Family)

Produced by Aki Kaurismaki, this deadpan comedy features an obsessive single dad (Ville Virtanen) who will do anything to keep his son from hooking up with the love of his life—who happens to be the boy’s sister. The icky topic is perfect fodder for that very special brand of Finnish humor. Directed by Aleksi Salmenperä (A Man’s Work).

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Berlin 2010 Preview: Panorama Main/Special, Part 2

February 5, 2010

The Panorama section takes in a wide swathe of both independent and international productions which deserve a few more eyeballs cast in their direction. There’s plenty in this year’s line-up to merit attention. A Japanese courier goes on the run after a bomb blast, a miracle-working vagabond raises some hell, Dostoevsky goes Moroccan and families across Europe suffer the fallout of secrets and lies. For afters, there’s even a hermaphrodite road movie. What’s German for “fasten your seatbelts”?

Read the first part of our Berlin Panorama preview.
Read the first part of our Berlin Competition preview.
Read the second part of our Berlin Competition preview.

Fucking Different São Paulo

In the fourth installment of the LGBT-friendly series, male directors take on lesbian stories and female directors tell of gay lives in Brazil’s largest city. Like all portmanteau films, it’s literally a grab-bag. Through a variety of genres that includes animation, the directors tackle all-girl rock bands, long-term relationships, and friends turned lovers.

Goruden Suramba (Golden Slumber)

Director Yoshihiro Nakamura and author Kotaro Isaka have enjoyed a fruitful collaboration that includes 2009’s Fish Story. The Japanese team’s latest is about a courier who goes on the run after he becomes a prime suspect in a political assassination. Put-upon star Masato Sakai won a Blue Ribbon for his role in 2008’s Climber’s High.

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