Takashi Miike to be honored with 2014 Maverick Director Award at Rome Film Festival

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Prolific Japanese filmmaker Takashi Miike will be the recipient of the 2014 Maverick Director Award at the upcoming Rome Film Festival, event organizers announced today.

The Maverick Director Award, the festival’s website states, “is dedicated to filmmakers who have contributed to the invention of a new, original, and unconventional cinema.”

Miike was already schedule to appear at the festival, which runs from Oct. 16-25 in Rome, Italy, to world-premiere his latest film, As the Gods Will (Kamisama no iutoori).

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‘Killers’ invade: Indonesian-Japanese co-produced film added to Japan CUTS 2014 lineup

Already diverse and eclectic, the 2014 Japan CUTS film festival in New York City (which begins July 10th through the 20th) has recently added the psychological-thriller Killers to its lineup.

Co-produced by Japanese film studio Nikkatsu and the Indonesian Guerilla Merah-Films, Killers follows the exploits of a Japanese serial killer named Nomura (played by Kazuki Kitamura) who uploads footage of his tortures and murders onto the internet. Nomura’s snuff films fascinate an Indonesian journalist named Bayu (played by Oka Antara), who in turn begins to kill and upload his murderous acts onto the internet as well. Nomura soon becomes aware of Bayu’s work, leading to a dark and twisted confrontation between both men.

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Japan CUTS 2014 unsheathes a lineup of cutting edge films

 

Photo courtesy of 2013 “Why Don’t You Play in Hell?” film partners

Photo courtesy of 2013 “Why Don’t You Play in Hell?” film partners

Fans of Japanese film, clear your schedules for July 10-20 as you’ll undoubtedly want to attend the 8th annual Japan CUTS film festival held at the Japan Society in New York City.

For 10 days, the Japan Society will become a mecca for Japanese cinephiles as the Japan CUTS 2014 festival will screen 27 films from the Land of the Rising Sun – including works by such notable Japanese directors as Sion Sono, Takashi Miike, Katsuhito Ishii and Hideo Nakata.

Though often difficult to assemble, Programmer for Japan CUTS 2014 Joel Neville Anderson stressed the importance of having a diverse collection of films presented at the festival.

“Curating festivals of a national cinema is necessarily problematic, swinging between exhaustive cultural surveys or limited selections of titles with international arthouse appeal, between a lineup that is representative and one that is exceptional,” Anderson said in a press release issued by Japan Society.

Anderson said the “tactic” at Japan CUTS has always been to place a heavy emphasis on “diversity” in the films they curate.

“This is especially so this year,” he said.

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‘The Wind Rises’ Review: Miyazaki’s last film before retirement mostly soars

Rating: PG-13

Length: 126 minutes

Director: Hayao Miyazaki 

Stars: 

 Jiro Horikoshi – Joseph Gordon-Levitt (voice)

Honjo – John Krasinki (voice)

Naoko Satomi – Emily Blunt (voice)

The animated film The Wind Rises is a monumental moment in world cinema, as it is not only legendary Japanese animated filmmaker Hayao Miyzaki at the top of his game, but also it being his last film before retirement. Interestingly, The Wind Rises is also his most provocative.

The film has caused a bit of controversy in Miyazaki’s native land as it is a fictionalized WWII-era biography of Jiro Horikoshi (voiced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt), the aeronautical engineer who designed the Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter plane – an aircraft that would be used by the Japanese Imperial Navy to attack Pearl Harbor.

The Wind Rises, which harkens back to the sweeping Hollywood epics of yore, tells the tale of the starry-eyed Horikoshi, whose dreams of one day building elegant and beautiful airplanes come true – a reality that will inflict heartache upon not only himself but the whole world.

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Takashi Miike + Tom Hardy = ‘The Outsider’

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Oh wow…

Oh wow, indeed.

The magnificent English actor Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises, Bronson, Inception, The Warrior and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) and controversial Japanese director Takashi Miike (the director of such great Japanese films such as : Audition, The Bird People of China, Ichi the Killer, The Great Yokai War and 13 Assassins) are rumored to be teaming up for the film The Outsider. 

Taking place in the aftermath of WWII, The Outsider tells the story of an American G.I. who, after becoming an American prisoner of war, later works his way up into the ranks of the Yakuza (the Japanese version of organized crime).

How can the prospect of such a film not send shivers up the spines of film enthusiasts?

Hardy, when need be, can easily play the role of a lovable and menacing brute, (Bane from The Dark Knight Rises) is in talks to be directed by one of the best cinematic agitators of all time, Takashi Miike.

Based on an original story idea by John Linson (Executive Producer of Sons of Anarchy), The Outsider was scripted by Andrew Baldwin.

Please leave your comments below as I’d love to hear people’s opinions on this film!

Why We Watch: A Lost in the Miso Exclusive (Part 1)

Lost in the Miso exclusive: Film bloggers talk about their love of Japanese and other foreign film, the difficulties of pursuing a foreign film hobby and why they blog about it. Due to the sheer size of this content, I’ll be breaking it up into parts.

Why We Watch: Part 1
I always wanted to blog. For several years I mulled over the idea of making one, eventually I grew content just reading and enjoying other people’s blogs. “I’ll get to it eventually,” I told myself.

Fast forward to May 2013, and life’s a lot different. As part of a college assignment for a Writing for Online and Social Media class, I have had to create and maintain a blog for the last several months. When I first discovered my classmates and I would have to create a blog and integrate it with other social media sites, e.g. Twitter and SoundCloud, I was a bit stressed. What was I going to write about?!

Thankfully, I did not anguish over a topic for my blog for very long. My professor, a fellow blogger, gave our class the obvious answer: write about what you love.

So that’s pretty much how Lost in the Miso was birthed into existence. I love foreign and independent film, with an emphasis on Japanese cinema. So why the hell wouldn’t I write about it?

And I’m so glad that I have. I’ve done some really fun things for this blog: I have attended a film festival where I was able to interview a film director, trekked into Boston during a snowstorm to see an independent film so I could write a review for it, discovered how painless SoundCloud is to use and, most importantly, I’ve networked with several really passionate and helpful film bloggers.

I reached out to several foreign film bloggers, via email, to ascertain why they blog about this stuff: the wonderfully knowledgeable Jason M. from Genkinahito (he knows his Japanese films!) and three great guys from S.C.U.M. Cinema: Monkey Fist, Mountain Monkey and Topo Sanchez (don’t let their names fool you, these are three very courteous and humble guys!)

A fascinating thing about these two blogs is that they originate from two different parts of the world: The United Kingdom and Singapore. It became quite clear early on into my research on foreign film bloggers that a love and interest in exotic cinema is not exclusive to any particular region in the world. People from all around the world are inherently curious about other cultures. Art (film, literature, television and music) is a universal language and, no matter how different another culture’s customs may seem, it is imbued with certain similar characteristics that make it more palatable for the foreigners who seek to consume it.

In Part 2 of this Lost in the Miso exclusive, Why We Watch, I’ll interview Genkinahito blogger, Jason M., who discusses how he developed an interest in foreign film, how he goes about finding foreign films to blog (it’s not always easy, folks) and, most importantly, Jason M. tells us why he blogs on the topic.

Sion Sono’s ‘Why Don’t You Play In Hell?’ teaser trailer is deliciously demented!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s been said, here and elsewhere, but it bears repeating: Sion Sono is one of the most prolific directors in the world and damn, he’s been on a roll the last few years.

The 34 second teaser trailer to Sono’s new film Why Don’t You Play in Hell? features samurai, yakuza, operatic music, guns, katana and blood. Oh lots of blood.

Sono’s last two films Himizu and Land of Hope, were rather tonally serious – both films dealt with the after effects of the 2008 earthquake and tsunami that ravaged Japan.  Why Don’t You Play in Hell? is not, judging by this awesome blood-soaked 34 second teaser, a continuation of the mature themes found in his previous work. Oh hell no. This just looks like bloody good fun.

Why Don’t You Play in Hell? is opening in Japan on September 28.

Check out the trailer:

Source: Twitch

Martin Scorsese’s ‘Silence’ to star Andrew Garfield and Ken Watanabe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s taken nearly twenty-years but Martin Scorsese’s passion project, a film adaptation of Japanese author Shusaku Endo’s novel Silence, has received funding and will begin filming in the summer of 2014.

Scorsese has landed the talented Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spider-Man and Social Network) and Ken Watanabe (The Last Samurai and Inception) to lead.

Garfield will be playing Father Rodrigues, a Portuguese Jesuit priest – a role that, during the adaptations many false starts, was rumored to be played by Daniel Day-Lewis and Benicio Del Toro.

Silence tells the story of two 17th-century Jesuit priests, one of whom is Father Rodrigues, who journey to Japan during a time where Japanese Catholics and European priests faced great religious persecution.

Ken Watanabe will be playing the role of an interpreter to the two Jesuit priests.

The majority of the film will be in the Japanese language, Scorsese has said.

Source: Variety

Takashi Miike’s ‘Shield of Straw’ to compete at Cannes Film Festival

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"Shield of Straw" teaser poster

“Shield of Straw” teaser poster

For a third year in a row, Japanese director Takashi Miike will have one of his films screen in competition at the Cannes Film Festival.

Miike’s latest film, Shield of Straw, will screen at the 66th Cannes Film Festival which runs from May 15-26.

Miike saw his films, Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai and For Love’s Sake, screen previously at Cannes in 2011 and 2012, respectively.

This is a must see for Japanese film fans as it is not only a Miike directed film but it stars the wonderful Fujiwara Tatsuya (Battle Royale, Death Note).

According to Variety.com, the film synopsis is as follows:

The pic is based on Kazuhiro Kiuchi’s eponymous best-seller about cops transporting a confessed killer across country. They must evade bounty hunters out to collect the $12 million price on the murderer’s head offered by the victim’s rich grandfather.

Head on over to the always awesome Twitchfilm to catch a glimpse of the Shield of Straw teaser trailer!

Keeping it ‘REAL’: Kiyoshi Kurosawa returns to theaters this year

Photo Courtesy of www.SciFiJapan.com

Photo Courtesy of http://www.SciFiJapan.com

It’s been a long five years since Japanese director Kiyoshi Kurosawa last released a film on the big screen but fans of his work need not wait much longer.

On June 1st, Kiyoshi’s REAL will open in theaters across Japan and, if you’re like me and do not live in Japan, don’t be too sad as REAL will undoubtedly make appearances at international film festivals and, eventually, it’ll find its way onto DVD and Blu-ray.

Kiyoshi, who has directed popular Japanese films such as Bright Future (2003), Pulse (2001), and Cure (1997), makes his directorial return with a film adaptation of the award-winning Japanese novel A Perfect Day for Plesiosaur. The novel, written by Rokuro Inui, came out in 2011 and, according to SciFiJapan, won the Grand Prize at the This Mystery is Excellent! – an annual mystery fiction competition held in Japan.

According to IMDB, the plot synopsis to REAL is as follows:

Koichi and Atsumi are childhood friends who have become lovers. Despite this closeness when Atsumi attempts suicide Koichi is at a loss to understand the circumstances that drove her to do such a thing. Now she is in a coma and Koichi needs to find out the reason. Since Koichi is a neurosurgeon he has access to the latest studies and so he takes part in a medical procedure that will allow him to enter Atsumi’s subconscious. Through ‘sensing’, a type of neurosurgical procedure allowing contact with the intentional aspect of a comatose patient’s mind, Koichi tries to discover why Atsumi tried to kill herself, and to bring her back to consciousness.

When he enters her mind she asks him to find a picture which she drew as a child. It is the key to a suppressed memory connected to a childhood trauma, an incident buried in their past which will bring their minds together and allow him to get close to truly knowing his love.

Sources: Twitchflim and SciFiJapan