Ann Arbor Film Festival 55

Thank you to all you cinema fans out there that have supported, the “Kuro: The Dark Edge of Japanese Film Making” series and this blog. I hope you all enjoyed all of the films although I wasn’t able to make them all myself (with starting a new job and the graduate semester reaching its final weeks). I will likely continue to update about Japanese Cinema in the area and create discussions about those I experience on my own.

Speaking of which, Japanese Cinema at the Michigan Theater doesn’t end here! Ann Arbor’s 55th Film Festival is coming soon! As mentioned before the Benshi that joined us for Dragnet Girl will be returning to perform, Pages of Madness.

See the Ann Arbor Film Festival page for the schedule Film Festival Calendar Schedule

Answer to this week’s trivia: Kamikaze Girls was based on a novel by the same name by author and fashion designer Novala Takemoto. His novel Kamikaze Girls and his novelettes, Missin’ and Missin’ 2 are both available in English Translations. He has a beautiful and poetic style with a unique scope on youth culture.


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“KURO: The Dark Edge of Japanese Filmmaking was presented by the University of Michigan Center for Japanese Studies.  More info can be found here: ii.umich.edu/cjs.  Additional support comes from Nagomi Downtown.  Located at 241 E. Liberty, just down the street from the Michigan, see the film and stop by special discounts on sake and more by request.

For more information on the history of the films series from the Center for Japanese Studies and their partnership with the Michigan Theater see the  About page!”

Film Preview!

Film: The World of Kanako
(2015 ) 118 min. NR
Director: Tetsuya Nakashima
Starring: Kôji Yakusho, Nana Komatsu, Satoshi Tsumabuki
KURO_Kanako_PRM
Plot Summary:  An aimless, irresponsible cop is pulled into sharp focus by the sudden, inexplicable disappearance of his teenage daughter. His search for clues leads him into chilling detail of an alternate realities with whom he believed his loved one to actually be, but will stop at no cost as a father to find her and the truth.

The film is the latest from the internationally award-winning TETSUYA NAKASHIMA, adapted from the best-selling mystery novel of AKIO FUKAMACHI, where noir is evolved from the underground of yakuza clans and the detectives looking to crack them with an investigative pivot into unknown, darkened subcultures of today’s youth.

Film Discussion:
Variety Magazine boasts 4 diverging timelines throughout the film, each unfolding the mystery that is the character, Kanako. Based on a mystery novel, it seems the film may borrow heavily from the narrative style in that respect. The film is stylistic in its use of cinematography, effects and violence.

For those that saw last Monday’s film, Ichi the Killer, this film has its own share of dirt, grime and gore. Flashy titles will also call to mind another film from earlier in the series, Suzuki Seijin’s Branded to Kill.

Tetsuya Nakashima was born in Fukuoka, Japan. His 2005 film, Kamikaze Girls won the best director award at the Yokohama Film Festival (a bubbly and surreal comedy, that I highly recommend) and his 2010 film, Confessions, made the shortlist for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 83rd academy awards.

Trivia: What other film (hint: award-winning) was based on a novel and directed by Tetsuya Nakashima?


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“KURO: The Dark Edge of Japanese Filmmaking is presented by the University of Michigan Center for Japanese Studies.  More info can be found here: ii.umich.edu/cjs.  Additional support comes from Nagomi Downtown.  Located at 241 E. Liberty, just down the street from the Michigan, see the film and stop by special discounts on sake and more by request.

For more information on the history of the films series from the Center for Japanese Studies and their partnership with the Michigan Theater see the  About page!”

 

Dragnet Girl Discussion

Film: Dragnet Girl (HIJOSEN NO ONNA)
(1933) 100 min  NR
Director: Yasujiro Ozu
Starring: Kinuyo Tanaka, Joji Oka, Sumiko Mizukubo
KURO_Dragnet Girl_PRM
Dragnet Girl Discussion:
If you ever get to see a performance by a Benshi, go. Ichiro Kataoka (the Benshi of March 6th’s performance) said that he chose the Benshi profession because it combined his favorite things, “film, theatre performance and writing”. Mr. Kataoka has a passion for his career that was not only clear in his visit to Professor Markus Nornes’ Japanese Cinema course, but in his performance for Ozu’s film, Dragnet Girl. Every character had a voice and the most intense scenes were given exuberant amounts of energy. Both he and DJ ARWulf’s performances held impeccable timing and a professionalism all their own.
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The film was an exciting series twists and turns with delightful characters. Joji, a gangster and exboxer lives with his highly independent and vivacious lover Tokiko. She emblemizes what scholar Mirium Silverberg discusses in her article, “The Modern Girl as Militant”, the media representation of the modern 20’s female. Down to her short hair and her mischievous nature, she is autonomous and can be frivolous. A young man at the local boxing gym desires to join the gang under Joji’s tutelage. Joji allows it until the young man’s sister pleads for him to drop her brother from the gang. The sister is more of what Silverberg talks about when she discusses the reality of the modern girl. She doesn’t necessarily wear western fashions, but she is autonomous (in this case working to support herself and her brother) and feels just as confident to make her demands. Joji is attractive to her “good-nature” vs. Tokiko’s wiley ways. As you can imagine, cinema-fans, this situation breeds its own chaos.

I would like to note that Mr. Kataoka will be returning to Ann Arbor, so if you missed this performance there is another chance! March 22 at 9:30pm, Mr. Kataoka will be the Benshi for the film, Pages of Madness. An experimental and surrealist film, for those that saw Dragnet Girl this will be a different sort of performance to be sure!


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“KURO: The Dark Edge of Japanese Filmmaking is presented by the University of Michigan Center for Japanese Studies.  More info can be found here: ii.umich.edu/cjs.  Additional support comes from Nagomi Downtown.  Located at 241 E. Liberty, just down the street from the Michigan, see the film and stop by special discounts on sake and more by request.

For more information on the history of the films series from the Center for Japanese Studies and their partnership with the Michigan Theater see the  About page!”

Tonight’s Film

Film: Ichi: The Killer
Director: Takashi Miike
Starring: Tadanobu Asano, Nao Ohmori, Shinya Tsukamoto
(2001) 129 Min. Rated R
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Summary: Love is painful and NOT for the faint of heart. Warring yakuza clans pit crime bosses against one another through deception and rumor. At the center of it all is the homicidal, unhinged Ichi. Warped by the rival gangs and their desire for ultimate power, Ichi is seduced by their psychological manipulation that catapults him into an enraged spree of pop art assassinations, in search for redemption and answers for his life.

Based from the acclaimed manga of HIDEO YAMAMOTO and grated through the eye-popping prolific lens of filmmaker TAKASHI MIIKE, this sensationalist turn at gangster noir offers a unique vantage point from the new millennium.


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“KURO: The Dark Edge of Japanese Filmmaking is presented by the University of Michigan Center for Japanese Studies.  More info can be found here: ii.umich.edu/cjs.  Additional support comes from Nagomi Downtown.  Located at 241 E. Liberty, just down the street from the Michigan, see the film and stop by special discounts on sake and more by request.

For more information on the history of the films series from the Center for Japanese Studies and their partnership with the Michigan Theater see the  About page!”

Note: Dragnet Girl Discussion Post to come.

Tonight’s Film: Dragnet Girl

Tonight’s Film: Dragnet Girl (HIJOSEN NO ONNA)
(1933) 100 min  NR
Director: Yasujiro Ozu
Starring: Kinuyo Tanaka, Joji Oka, Sumiko Mizukubo
Plot summary: The life of career criminal Jôji takes a possible turn at redemption when he crosses paths with a delinquent initiate well-intentioned sister, Kazuko. Her innocent apprehension for her brother arouses curious attraction in Jôji, while inciting a dangerous triangle of jealousy with his current bawd lover.

Direct from Japan, be part of this unique screening event, given an exclusive live narration performance from renowned benshi ICHIRO KATAOKA, plus electronic DJ ARWULF delivering period music for a once-in-a-lifetime experience of this silent film masterpiece from YASUJIRO OZU.
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Film Discussion: Tonight’s film viewing will truly be a live performance. In early forms of film often times there was a lecturer to explain what was happening on screen. In Japan, this went a step further, a tradition called the Benshi came and lasted far longer than the lecturer of European countries. The Benshi are narrators, storytellers and voice characters. They tell the story of the film and do all the voices for the characters. We will be lucky enough to view such a performance from acclaimed Benshi, Ichiro Kataoka. Music will also be performed by electronic DJ Arwulf. This is truly a special performance as Kataoka is coming all the way from Germany on this tour to be with us this evening!


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“KURO: The Dark Edge of Japanese Filmmaking is presented by the University of Michigan Center for Japanese Studies.  More info can be found here: ii.umich.edu/cjs.  Additional support comes from Nagomi Downtown.  Located at 241 E. Liberty, just down the street from the Michigan, see the film and stop by special discounts on sake and more by request.

For more information on the history of the films series from the Center for Japanese Studies and their partnership with the Michigan Theater see the  About page!”

Tuesday Film Discussion

 

Hello Cinema Fans,

I hope you are all doing well through this rough weather. What did you think of A Fugitive from the Past? I am sadly out of town and was unable to make such a special viewing, but I have included a discussion about the film from Yale University.

fugitive-from-the-past-1965Discussion: http://ceas.yale.edu/events/fugitive-past-kiga-kaikyo-ji-e-hai-xia

I will be attending Monday’s screening of the Dragnet Girl which is sure to be an amazing experience. For the screening isn’t just a film viewing but a true live performance. Please return tomorrow for the film preview!

Answer to last week’s Trivia: The technique that gave the film its newsreel, grainy and gritty look was that the film makers originally shot using 16mm and then intentionally blew it up to 35mm

 


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“KURO: The Dark Edge of Japanese Filmmaking is presented by the University of Michigan Center for Japanese Studies.  More info can be found here: ii.umich.edu/cjs.  Additional support comes from Nagomi Downtown.  Located at 241 E. Liberty, just down the street from the Michigan, see the film and stop by special discounts on sake and more by request.

For more information on the history of the films series from the Center for Japanese Studies and their partnership with the Michigan Theater see the  About page!”

Information came from the Metro Museum of Modern Art

 

 

Film Preview

Film: A Fugitive from the Past (KIGA KAIKYÔ)
(1964) 183 min. NR
Director: Tomu Uchida
Starring: Rentarô Mikuni, Sachiko Hidari, Kôji Mitsui
fugitive-from-the-past-1965
Plot Summary: This decade-spanning, epic thriller of a heist gone wrong follows a lone surviving thief as he evades the law, going into desperate hiding with a prostitute. This cover allows retribution for them both into society, but at disastrous costs as the detectives pursue the crime and its story unravels with time.

From director Tomu Uchida, this feature swept the Mainichi Film Concours for that year, including Best Director and Screenplay for the adaptation of the novel from Tsutomu Minakami. The film print being shown will be the first time outside the Museum of Modern Art, presented in its entirety anywhere in the country.

About the Film:  As said in the plot summary, this is a special showing of the film. This is the first time this 35mm film will be shown outside the Museum of Modern Art in New York. According to the Museum of Modern Art’s website A Fugitive from the Past has a rather unique gritty newsreel look that was gained through a rather clever technique. The story themes of crime vs. retribution is said to be an “allegory for the ambiguous ethos of post-war Japan”, thus following with the themes of many of the Kuro series titles.

This week’s trivia: What was the technique that gave the film its gritty newsreel look?

Sadly, Cinema fans I will be out of town during this monumental film. Similar to the film I missed during Midterms I will post a discussion from either a reputable newspaper, magazine or critic.


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“KURO: The Dark Edge of Japanese Filmmaking is presented by the University of Michigan Center for Japanese Studies.  More info can be found here: ii.umich.edu/cjs.  Additional support comes from Nagomi Downtown.  Located at 241 E. Liberty, just down the street from the Michigan, see the film and stop by special discounts on sake and more by request.

For more information on the history of the films series from the Center for Japanese Studies and their partnership with the Michigan Theater see the  About page!”

Information came from the Metro Museum of Modern Art