Oct 18

Strawberry Shortcakes (2006) aka Sutoroberii Shooto Keikusu

Based on the eponymous manga for girls by cartoonist Kiriko Nananan, the pic follows the ups and downs of four female friends in Tokyo looking for love and trying to cope with the responsibilities in their lives. The main characters, impeccably played by four powerful actresses, are modern, self-sufficient women and their stories are told with mild irony and a dash of melancholy. The result is a movie that is lighthearted at times, a little sad at others, crazy and sometimes serious, but always special, that investigates the psychology of its characters and offers an accurate depiction of urban Japan, thanks to its director’s know-how. While many overly ambitious directors struggle to tell even one fairly comprehensible story, Yazaki skillfully weaves a powerful depiction of not one, but four women, creating an indissoluble and moving whole that doesn’t succumb to sentimentalism.

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Oct 16

The Wicked Reporter (1993) aka Gokudô kisha

More than his indie debut Skinless Night, this was the film that launched Mochizuki on his distinctive trajectory through the crime and yakuza genres. Matsuzaki is a racing tipster for a sports paper, a lowlife who spends half his time drunk, hangs out with yakuza and other riff-raff and complicates his sex life by succumbing to advances from his girlfriend’s sister. As played by Okuda, he’s also a figure of considerable hangdog charm. Less a plot-based movie than a guide to the several forms of high stakes gambling in Japan, this centres on his attempt to help a friend swindled in a bent mahjong game.

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Oct 11

Nineteen Joshidaisei Satsujin Report (2005) aka 19 – Nineteen – Joshidaisei satsujin repôto

A Paper on Murder by Girl Students (2005)Kaori and Natsumi are the students of a Gils Only College. Naoki, the designer who uses his sweet-talks to lure girls to have sex with him, and tape their actions along the way, then use those to black mail the girls. Naoki uses his charm to seduce Natsumi, with the real purpose of taking over her house. Unexpectedly, Kaori and Natsumi learned who Naoki really is, the feeling of hate and betrayal took over. These two 19-year-olds killed Naoki, dismantled his body and flee the scene. Kondo, who discovered the fact started to chase after these two girls. Between life and death, love and friendship, true and lies, when will all of these come to an end…
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Oct 07

Fireflies in the North (1984) aka Kita No Hotaru

“In 1984, Hideo Gosha accepted Toei’s offer to direct Fireflies in the North, about a 19th century samurai rebellion in a Hokkaido prison called shuchikan. The Japanese government was by then using political prisoners from former samurai clans in order to build railroads in snowbound northern Japan, at a heavy death toll. The script focused on a real-life character called Kiyoshi Tsukigata (Tatsuya Nakadai) and his love affair with a mysterious woman played by Shima Iwashita (already seen in Sword of the Beast). This love affair leads to an ending that makes the film differ greatly from Gosha’s former Goyokin. Whereas Magobei eventually walked away through a field of snow with his back turned to his wife, Tsukigata decides to cast off all notions of jingi and giri in order to sing and dance with his beloved. The scene was not in the script (which even ended with different characters) and exemplifies Gosha’s wish to express his own love of life and Japan’s popular arts (especially enka) more than his admiration for the samurai or yakuza spirit.”

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