Japanese cinema newsflashes (17/01/2020).

Introduction

While nothing in our mission statement for this year said anything about writing news-articles about Japanese cinema, we – to our own surprise – find ourselves writing something just like that.

In this article, we provide information about upcoming screenings, explore the nominations for the Japanese academy awards, introduce our short review of Weathering with You (2019), and present trailers for movies we find interesting.

Newsflash: Screenings one cannot miss.

Bad Poetry Tokyo (2018) by Anshul Chauhan

Starting from tomorrow, lovers of cinema who’re living in Tokyo can finally see Chauhan’s Bad Poetry Tokyo (2019) on the big screen. Cinema lovers, based in Tokyo, have no excuse to not see this powerful cinematographical exploration of a woman trying to break free from the cycle of abuse. Furthermore, every night between the 18th and 24th the screening will be followed by a talk-show.

Date: From 18/01/2020 at least till 31/01/2020.
Place: Image Forum (2 Chome-10-2 Shibuya, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0002, Japan).
Time: 20:50
Price: 1800 Yen (general) 1200 yen (student/Senior) 1100 yen (Member).

Bad Poetry Tokyo is a splendid debut full-length feature. It is evident from the cinematography, that Anshul Chauhan is a director with a clear vision, able – and this is even more important – to exploit the versatility of cinematography to frame subjectivity in an engaging way. As the narrative follows the subjective trajectory of Jun, it slowly reveals, in a rather detached way, that the violent attempt to break the cycle of abuse, that the violent attempt to find a subjective place outside that cycle, sometimes leads to a place outside society, outside the symbolic. In this way, Bad Poetry Tokyo poignantly underlines the destructive effects of abuse on subjectivity as such.

Stolen (2019) by Taka Tsubota

7 February, Taka Tsubota’s Stolen (2019) will have its premiere in Los Angeles. As this indie narrative secured the 6th place in our Top 10 Japanese movies of 2019, those people in LA should not pass the change to see this year’s indie gem. After the screening, there will be a Q&A with the director and, for those who are 21 or older, also an after-party.

Date: Friday 7 February.
Place: Japanese American National Museum (100 N Central Ave, LA, CA 90012 USA).
Time: 7:00 pm.
Price: Premiere with Q&A + After-party (food): $15

Tsubota’s Stolen is, in short, this year’s indie-gem. Not only is his narrative a powerful critique on the perverse sides of media and the destructive power their insatiable desire for drama has, Stolen is, at the same time one of the most touching and a-political statement on the importance of familial bonds in dealing with loss, a loss that impacts each family member differently.

Newsflash: 43rd Japan Academy award nominees announced.

Nippon Academy Association has announced the nominees of the 43th Japan Academy awards. As the Japan Academy awards are similar to the American Oscars, it is not surprising to see many popular films of 2019 nominated. The movie that amassed the most nominations – twelve in total – is, perhaps slightly surprising, Fly Me To The Saitama (2019). But also Shinsuke Sato’s Kingdom (2019), Hiruyama’s Closed Ward (2019) – with Nana Komatsu in a supporting role, and Fuiji’s The Journalist (2019) were able to secure multiple nominations. The award ceremony will take place at the Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa on March 6.

A selection of the most interesting categories

Picture of the year

Animation of the year

      • Her Blue Sky
      • Weathering with You (See below for our short review)
      • Detective Conan: The Fist of Blue Sapphire
      • Lupin III: The First
      • One Piece: Stampede

Director of the year

      • Shinsuke Sato (Kingdom)
      • Masayuki Suo (Talking the Pictures)
      • Hideki Takeuchi (Fly Me to the Saitama)
      • Hideyuki Hirayama (Closed Ward)
      • Michihito Fujii (The Journalist)

Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography

      • Taro Kawazu (Kingdom)
      • Kozo Shibasaki (Closed Ward)
      • Shohei Tanigawa (Fly Me to the Saitama)
      • Piotr Niemyjski (Listen to the Universe)
      • Junichi Fujisawa (Talking the Pictures)

Outstanding Achievement in Film Editing

      • Tsuyoshi Imai (Kingdom)
      • Shinji Kawamura (Fly Me to the Saitama)
      • Chieko Suzaki (Closed Ward)
      • Tatsuma Furukawa (The Journalist)
      • Ryuji Miyajima (The Great War of Archimedes)

Award for Distinguished Service [Everyone receives this award]

      • Koji Takada (Screenwriter)
      • Akira Takarada (Actor) [Godzilla (1954), Dance With me (2019)]
      • Yoko Tsukasa (Actress) [Late Autumn (1960), Yojimbo (1961)]
      • Sadao Nakajima (Dir) [Kunoichi Ninpo (1964), Love’s Twisting Path (2019)]
      • Ayako Wakao (Actress) [Street of Shame (1956), An Actor’s Revenge (1963)]

For the full list check: The official website of the Japan Academy awards.

Short review: Weathering With You (2019)

While Shinkai mesmerizes with visuals, Weathering With You is, despite structural similarities with his monster hit Your Name, not able to attain the same emotional power. Shinkai’s lack of narrative conciseness as well problems at the level of timing prevents this truly breathtaking visual masterpiece from becoming an emotional rollercoaster.

Narratively speaking, Shinkai provides one of the most clear illustrations of Zizek’s statement that love is evil. In Weathering With You love is not only choosing one person over all others, but also a choice made irrespective of the natural disasters the pursuit of this love will cause. While this might seem romantic to some people, such selfishness will leave many spectators, not only those with an environmental consciousness, conflicted.

Trailer time: Interesting upcoming Japanese movies.

1- Eiri (2020) by Keishi Otomo.

Release: February 14, 2020
Synopsis: Set in Iwate, we follow the lives of four people in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake.

2- Stolen Identity 2 (2020) by Hideo Nakata.

Release: February 21, 2020
Synopsis: Not long after the solving of the serial murder case, a new body is found in the same area. Detective Manabu Kagaya sets out to uncover the truth.

3- Romance Doll (2020) by Yuki Tanada.

Release: January 22, 2020
Synopsis: Tetsuo is married to Sonoko. While their marriage seems to go well, both Tetsua as Sonoko have a secret they feel they can’t tell each other.

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