Eastern Kicks Asks: "The Film that Started It All"

crouching tiger
Childhood memories & global success story: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Recently Andrew Heskins of Eastern Kicks asked a number of critics, film bloggers and friends about “the film that started it all” – i.e. their passion for Asian cinema:

It might not have been the first Asian film you saw, or even the best, but was there one that stood out? That light bulb moment when you realised how much you loved Asian movies and had to write/talk/blog/podcast about it?

Continue reading “Eastern Kicks Asks: "The Film that Started It All"”

Review:「長州ファイブ」(Chōshū faibu/Chosyu Five)

長州ファイブ (Choshu Five)

Year: 2006
Country: Japan
Languages: Japanese, English
Director: Igarashi Sho (五十嵐匠)
Screenplay: Igarashi Sho ((五十嵐匠)
Cinematography: Teranuma Norio (寺沼範雄)
Soundscore: Yasukawa Goro (安川午朗)
Cast: Matsuda Ryuhei (松田龍平), Yamashita Tetsuo, Kitamura Yukiya, Miura Akifumi, Maeda Michiyoshi, Michelle Duncan, Paul Riddley
Runtime: 119 min
Distribution: Libero
Film’s official website: http://www.chosyufive-movie.com (日本語)

Seen at the monthly Films at the Embassy of Japan event, at a special screening commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Chosyu Five’s arrival in London. The film had an additional screening at University College London (UCL), the institution where the Chosyu Five became the first Japanese students in Great Britain.
Note: 長州 [ちょうしゅう] is romanised both as Chōshū as well as Chosyu.
Chōshū faibu is as much a film about the past as it is one about the present and even the future. It reminds us of a time that is so distant, so different from the now we live in that we can barely relate to it, but simultaneously reveals, if we look closely enough, that not only connections remain, but that some things have not changed at all.
Continue reading “Review:「長州ファイブ」(Chōshū faibu/Chosyu Five)”

Review:「アイキ」 (Aiki/Aiki)

Year: 2002
Language: Japanese
Director: Tengan Daisuke
Screenplay: Tengan Daisuke
Cinematography: Yi Yi-shu
Soundscore: Kumagai Yoko, Urayama Hidehiko
Cast: Kato Haruhiko, Tomosaka Rie, Ishibashi Ryo
Runtime: 118 min
Trailer: on YouTube

Seen at a screening as part of the Films at the Embassy of Japan programme.
The Olympics are nearly upon London and it is becoming more obvious every day. The fact that the monthly film screening at the Embassy of Japan took place a week earlier than normally – presumably to avoid the chaos of the Olympics’ opening days – was one indicator, but so was the choice of film screened: Aiki, after all, is a tale of the powerful spirit of sport. Continue reading “Review:「アイキ」 (Aiki/Aiki)”

Review: わが愛の譜 滝廉太郎物語 (Waga ai no fu Taki Rentarō monogatari/Bloom in the Moonlight)

Year: 1993
Director: Sawai Shinichirō (澤井信一郎)
Screenplay: Ito Ryoji, Miyazaki Akira, Sawai Shinichirō
Cinematography: Kimura Daisaku
Cast: Kazama Tōru, Washio Isako, Dan Fumi
Runtime: 125 min
Trailer: Not available
Seen at a screening as part of the Films at the Embassy of Japan programme (see also widget on Otherwhere’s left sidebar).
Every month the Japanese Embassy in London screens a film at its (aptly titled) “Films at the Japanese Embassy” event. I have only attended two screenings thus far – this particular one plus the one for 風の又三郎 ガラスのマソト (Kaze no Matasaburō: Garasu no masoto/The Glass Cape) – but my impression is that films are selected with much care and often include gems that are otherwise rather hard to come by. While Kaze no Matasaburō introduced a children’s tale that is much beloved in Japan but virtually unknown anywhere else, Waga ai no fu Taki Rentarō monogatari ventures into the country’s history of classical music. Continue reading “Review: わが愛の譜 滝廉太郎物語 (Waga ai no fu Taki Rentarō monogatari/Bloom in the Moonlight)”

Review: 風の又三郎 ガラスのマソト (Kaze no Matasaburō: Garasu no masoto/The Glass Cape)

Year: 1989
Director: Toshiya Itoh
Screenplay: Tsutui Tomomi, Toshiya Itoh
Cinematography: N/A
Cast: Hayase Misato, Kobayashi Yu, Shiga Junichi, Amasaga Toshiyuki, Uchida Asao, Dan Fumi, Kusakari Masao
Runtime: 107 min
Trailer: no trailer available, but 4 min clip of the opening is on YouTube
Seen at a screening as part of the Films at the Embassy of Japan programme.
It’s another film that is simply magicalKaze no Matasaburō: Garasu no masoto (literally Matasaburō of the Wind: Cape of Glass) depicts a story of childhood in the rural Japan of the 1920s. At the heart of the tale is Takada (Kobayashi Yu), a young boy, whose father is transferred to a remote village in the Tōhoku region. Takada arrives there on the very windy 210th day of the year, which immediately raises suspicion in the village children: he must, they whisper amongst themselves, be Matasaburō, the son of the wind god, who appears on this day and stays until the 220th – a suspicion that seems confirmed when it turns out that Takada’s first name is Saburō. Continue reading “Review: 風の又三郎 ガラスのマソト (Kaze no Matasaburō: Garasu no masoto/The Glass Cape)”