“And while a deeper exploration of Haruka and Shouta’s subjective perspective could have made Sawamura’s quest for redemption even more powerful, Museum does provide the tension, the thrills and the plot twists any great thriller narrative should have.”
If one looks at Keishi Ootomo oeuvre, one concludes that he loves to adapt manga narratives to the silver screen. He already brought the wildly popular manga Rurouni Kenshin to the silver screen – Rurouni Kenshin (2012), Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno (2014), and Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends (2014), and has just finished his filmic translation of the manga San gatsu no Lion following the story of a young shogi-player.
“An expressive narrative about feelings of shame, sexuality, and the fear of death. (..) Not (…) extremely polished, but Kobayashi has delivered an exercise in form to show that he is ready to tackle on bigger projects. “
In Japan, the land of the million stories, manga stories can be as strange and unorthodox as the writer want them to be. This narrative freedom creates a space where a multitude of creative approaches to telling a narrative are made possible. One such manga is “Kumoman” by Manabu Nakagawa, which recounts in a quirky drawing style and with an expressive inventiveness the experience and the shame he endured after being struck down by a stroke in a massage parlour when he was about to come.
“The narrative (…) uncovers the very silliness men can attain in the field of the sexual (…) [and] shows (…) that only women can go beyond that manly silliness (…) and have a victorious freedom.”
When Nikkatsu was facing bankruptcy in 1971, a shift from action to sexploitation narratives, labeled as Roman Porno, became their saviour. In the years that followed more than 800 titles were produced until May 1988, when the competition of the straight-to-video pornography and the increasing popularity of television put an end to the label.
” [The]subtle blend of (…) emotional layers, (…) evoke[s] the difficulties a subject can have in finding a place to call home, implicitly implying that a sense of belonging is only to be found in a place conditioned by one or more meaningful human relations as such.“
It was only after Adam Torel of Third Window Films, one of the main programmers at the Raindance Film Festival, decided to distribute Greatful Dead (2014) [Our review can be read here), that Eiji Uchida approached him with the idea of creating Lowlife Love (2016), a narrative about a muddling indie-filmmaker who one day meets a promising actress and a guy with a interesting screenplay.
“[An] endearing and heartwarming exploration of the complexity of family relations (…) that shows (…) that happiness is to be found in the very daily problems family life indisputably generates. We’re already hoping for another sequel.”
While Yōji Yamada might not ring the same way in the ear as the great powerhouses, e.g. Shohei Imamura, Kon Ichikawa, Akira Kurosawa, …etc., of Japanese cinematography, he should still be considered as a minor monument of Japanese cinema. He is, for instance, the director of the legendary and highly entertaining Otoko wa Tsurai yo comedy series (general note 1), which follows the adventures of Tora-san and his endless quests to win a woman’s heart. More recently, he directed the critically acclaimed trilogy of samurai movies, i.e. The Twilight Samurai (2002), The Hidden Blade (2004) and Love and Honor (2006).
“But even if the narrative is poetically inconsistent on a cinematographical level, there is still a lot to like about the lyricism of speech and the eloquence in which two lost souls are able to find each other as subject.”
In 2010 Ishii Yuya entered the international scene with a bang when his first commercial feature, Sawaka Decides. Besides being chosen for the international Film Festival in Berlin, it also won the Best Feature Film at Montreal’s Fantasia Film Fest and made Ishii the youngest winner of the Blue Ribbon for Best Director in Japan. Three years later, his talent was confirmed when The Great Passage, a narrative based on Shion Miura’s best-selling novel, won the awards for Best Picture and Best Director on the Japanese Academy awards.
In celebration of his latest cinematographical product, the highly entertaining Love and Goodbye and Hawaii – our review can be read here, we invited Matsumura Shingo to have a little chat with us. In this enlightening interview, Matsumura explains how he became a movie director, the joys and difficulties of independent movie making, the source of comedy, and of course about love and romance.