As Japannual is just around the corner, we want to introduce our recommendations for Vienna’s most amazing film-festival. Our recommendations are, of course, based on the narratives we’ve already seen.
Be sure to look forward to our coverage of this beautiful festival.
Dare To Stop Us (2018) by Kazuya Hiraishi.
While Dare to Stop Us already constitutes an insightful look into the inner-workings of Wakamatsu productions, the true moving beauty of the narrative is to be found in the unearthing, through Megumi’s drama, of the lingering enigma (i.e. female sexuality/female sexuation) that underpins pink-eiga as a genre in general and Wakamatsu’s oeuvre in particular. Beyond the celebration of the power of politically motivated and activist cinema, Hiraishi beautifully and touchingly evokes that cinema can always fails one’s subjective struggle.
The Fable (2019) by Kan Eguchi.
To immediately answer the question we posed in our introduction, The Fable is one of those live-action adaptations that is worthy of your time. By mixing quirky lightheartedness, cool action, and brute violence, Kan Eguchi succeeds in composing an action-narrative that, by hitting all the necessary beats, ensures the spectator’s enjoyment. The Fable might not be testing the limits of the genre, but it’s great in what it does: provides a highly entertaining visual ride.
Sabu’s Jam is, when all is said and done, a very enjoyable experience. This is not only due to the fitting performances of the cast, but also because of the compelling narrative structure – a structure organized around the notion of the encounter – and finely balanced genre-mix that Sabu created. While Jam does lack some thematical punch, Sabu’s splendidly structured genre-mix will surely please his fans as well as charm those who are new to his oeuvre.
Melancholic (2018) by Seiji Tanaka.
Melancholic is an amazing debut by Seiji Tanaka. By mixing crime, romance, friendship, and a pinch of violence into a coming-of-age narrative, Tanaka has succeeded in crafting a truly entertaining statement against oppressive control and the importance of finding, on one’s own subjective account, moments of happiness, which are ever relational in nature. One can only do right by this new talent, by watching his touching and, in essence, humanistic narrative.
We Are Little Zombies (2019) by Makoto Nagahisa.
Even though the fluid and energetic mix of styles might be a bit exhausting at times, We Are Little Zombies stands as an amazing achievement of creativity – a creativity born from Nagahisa’s choice to let the subjectivity of his protagonists dictate the cinematographical composition as such. Nagahisa’s visual and intellectual experiment, an experiment revealing his firm grasp of the medium of film and the evocative and poetic potential of the signifier, is one of the most original narratives to be released dealing with the coming-into-being-of-grief through the questioning of the dimension of love. With We Are Little Zombies, Nagahisa has earned himself the honour to be considered as one of the most promising directors of Japan today.
Samurai Marathon (2019) by Bernard Rose.
Samurai Marathon is a wonderful narrative about a less known historical fact – the first Japanese marathon. While this historical event had no true effect in the unfolding of history, Samurai Marathon succeeds, by intermingling various narrative threads into an effective narrative structure and allowing dramatic musical pieces support its unfolding, in turning this event into an exciting jidai-geki narrative. Rose might have created a somewhat atypically packaged jidai-geki, but it provides everything one should expect of a contemporary mainstream jidai-geki.