13th Cinema One Originals Film Festival: My World Cinema Picks

Before We Vanish: Seeing Ryuhei Matsuda on the big screen twice this year 

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Narumi Kase (Masami Nagasawa) is on bad terms with her husband Shinji Kase (Ryuhei Matsuda) until Shinji goes missing and comes back as a different person.  Meanwhile, a family is brutally murdered and an unexplained phenomenon takes place.

When Cinema Bravo unveiled the full line-up and schedules for the 13th Cinema One Originals Film Festival this past Wednesday, I immediately scrolled down to check the world cinema section, and I couldn’t help myself and jump with joy when I saw Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s “Before We Vanish,” an official selection at the Un Certain Regard section at the recent Festival de Cannes.

The film’s been on my lookout since I came to know about it late last year, all because it stars a big bias actor of mine, Ryuhei Matsuda. Since I’m keeping tabs of his films, I’m quite in the know whenever he has upcoming or new ones out in Japan.

Before We Vanish international teaser trailer

In fact, Before We Vanish was only released September 9 in Japan so that’s like just over two months of gap before it screens for the Cinema One Originals line-up. I’m totally amazed at how the Cinema One Originals committee are so quick to be able to bring these films so fast for the film fest after their run in international film festivals.

I’m totally exuberant because this will be the second time I’ll be getting to watch Ryuhei on the big screen, first at the  Eiga Sai Film Festival this past July with the film “The Mohican Comes Home” (2016).

Ever since I first got to see him on the big screen in “Tada’s Do-It-All House: Disconcerto” (2014), courtesy again of the Japan Foundation’s Eiga Sai Film Fest, his films have been  common fixtures in the line-up every year. It was just unfortunate though when I missed my favorite “The Great Passage” (2013) at last year’s Eiga Sai because of my birthday trip overseas but I’ve seen the movie before this on television via Red by HBO.

So I’m just totally in a euphoric state that I will get to see his latest film, Before We Vanish on the big screen. It’s all thanks to Cinema One Originals for bringing the film for the festival.

As for his director, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, this will be the first time I’ll be seeing a film from the Japanese horror master as he is known in the industry. Just like Hirokazu Koreeda, he’s venturing into new territories with Before We Vanish, which is science fiction, a genre that isn’t very common in the Japanese movie industry. However, it seems Kurosawa has more diverse genres in his films than Koreeda.

His thriller film “Creepy” (2016) was among the line-up at this year’s Eiga Sai but I didn’t get to watch it but I’ve heard of him first from the film “Journey to the Shore” (2015), I think last year as it was part of Cinema One Originals but just the same I haven’t seen it and also “Bright Future” (2003).

The Third Murder: Hirokazu Koreeda’s change of pace

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Shigemori (Masaharu Fukuyama) is an elite lawyer who takes the case of Mikuma (Koji Yakusho), a self-confessed murderer to a crime that happened 30 years ago. Facing the death sentence, Shigemori begins to doubt if Mikuma is the real murderer.

For this film, “The Third Murder,” the reason why this is part of my shortlist is not because of the actor/s but more on the director, Hirokazu Koreeda, as I have seen quite a number of his films before that I really like or love.

IndieWire calls Hirokazu Koreeda as Japan’s “greatest living humanist filmmaker” and I really think this is one of the best ways to describe him. However, their review says about his latest film, The Third Murder, a rare misfire and an unwelcome change of pace.

The Third Murder English Subtitled Trailer

Toronto International Film Festival and The Guardian (The Third Murder review – death-sentence drama leaves you hanging) both have positive reviews.

I myself is actually a little surprised when this came to my awareness few months ago because it’s nothing like any of his works that center on family life and its complexities. And it seems like this is the first time he’s venturing outside the style that he is known for. 

Among my favorites from him are definitely “Like Father, Like Son” (which I saw from the 2015 Eiga Sai Film Fest) and “Our Little Sister” (which I missed from the 2016 Eiga Sai because of a trip but was able to watch at home). I also like “I Wish” (the one with Joe Odagiri and Bae Doo-na) and “After Life”. I have yet to watch last year’s “After the Storm” that stars Hiroshi Abe, Yoko Maki and Kiki Kirin.

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A lot of familiar names are here who starred in his previous films — Masaharu Fukuyama (Like Father, Like Son), Lily Franky (Like Father, Like Son), Suzu Hirose (Our Little Sister). Koji Yakusho also stars but I’m not sure if he’s starred in any of Koreeda’s films before, he’s in a number of Takashi Miike movies than Koreeda.

Despite the sudden change of direction, I’m gonna give this a shot, just because I’m aware of the quality of Hirokazu Koreeda’s films and that he always or most often than not delivers.

Call Me By Your Name: This year’s best of summer love

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Italy, summer of 1983, precocious 17-year-old Elio (Timothée Chalamet) is spending the summer at his parents’ villa in Lombardy when he meets Oliver (Armie Hammer ), a doctoral student and intern of his father. Amid the sun-drenched splendor of their surroundings, Elio and Oliver discover the heady beauty of awakening desire over the course of a summer that will alter their lives forever.

Out of my three shortlisted films, only one isn’t Japanese nor Asian, and that is  Luca Guadagnino’s film adaptation of the 2007 novel of the same name by André Aciman, “Call Me By Your Name,” starring Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet, that had its debut at the Sundance Film Festival and is now garnering a place as one of the favorites to win best picture Oscar in February. 

In this case, neither the director nor the actors is my reason for choosing it. I saw the trailer to this few months back but I don’t remember how I came to find it on YouTube, but I was enamored by how beautiful it is from the trailer alone. The only cast that I know of is Armie Hammer but the rest of the cast and the director are fairly new to me.

Call Me By Your Name Trailer

I also can’t help but take notice of the song playing in the latter half of the trailer, and how it makes me wanna watch the film even more with it. I went looking for the song and it’s called “Mystery of Love” by Sufjan Stevens, who also composed the song specifically for the film, as well as two more songs included in the original motion picture soundtrack. Now I’m thinking of getting the OST.

From the looks of it, it won’t be hard for me to fall in love with this film when I see it in full.

The 13th Cinema One Originals Film Festival runs on November 13-21 at Trinoma, Glorietta, Gateway, UP Cine Adarna, Cinema 76 and Cinematheque, and extended run from November 22-28 at the PowerPlant Mall.

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RuroKen Asian Premiere in Manila

Day 1 – Aug. 6, SM Megamall

Samurai X, as it is known outside Japan has always been one of my favorite anime series’ ever.  I was repeatedly watching it on the telly, it was Channel 2 or Studio 23 and never got tired of it. It’s definitely a huge part of my growing up years, when I was having big crushes to anime characters although until now, I still love “bishounen” anime guys and always had this wish that they’re real. So when I saw the trailer of the live action adaptation back in 2012, I was so thrilled that finally a live action and when I finally got to see it, it went beyond my expectation.

And two years later, the cast made a visit to Manila. With the upcoming release of the film, I am so specially excited to see Iseya Yusuke as the live action counterpart of Shinomori Aoshi. Squeal!

Iseya Yusuke and Shinonori Aoshi

It’s a very first in Manila for something like this to happen here. It’s a common knowledge that movies don’t have premieres here, wherein foreign actors come over to have a red carpet procession for their movies, a press conference and the like. It just doesn’t happen. So when the news about the cast: Sato Takeru, Takei Emi and Aoki Munetaka with director Otomo Keishi coming over for the Manila premiere of Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno was announced, it definitely sent everyone into a huge frenzy, including me.

I’m not a big fan of Sato Takeru in any way, as I like his best friend Miura Haruma. But because I’m a big fan of the whole Rurouni Kenshin, it didn’t matter to me at all. And besides, this doesn’t happen most of the time. It’s really one of those things that I should not miss.

I didn’t win passes so I wasn’t able to see the movie during the premiere this Wednesday at SM Megamall. And as the fangirl that I am, I just went to the event by myself. It took 3 1/2 hours of waiting and standing before I could see them in person.

It was really nice of them as they signed autographs at the red carpet, on their way to the stage and with interviews on the side.

Here they are signing at the red carpet.

I find Sato Takeru cute, serious and mature-looking. When he was introduced, he said, “Kumusta? Ako po si Takeru Sato. Masaya ako nagkita tayo.” His Tagalog speaking voice was probably the cutest Japanese sounding Tagalog to me.

See the video below to see them speaking Tagalog:

Munetaka Aoki was the most energetic one. I just love his energy and being the first one to speak in Tagalog was such a nice gesture for me. He greeted the crowd with a roaring “Magandang gabi po!” and said “Salamat po” when they screamed “Sano,” which is his character’s name.

And of course the only lass among the lads, Takei Emi looks like a sweet person and a simple beauty. She really does strike a resemblance to Kathryn Bernardo.

The event ended with a photo call before they left for the start of the movie premiere.

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I was just so happy when I managed to capture this scene of Iseya-san from the trailer. ^_^

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Day 2 – Aug. 7, Glorietta

The next day was another long waiting time for me. Thankfully, I was with Myleen who went at Glorietta earlier than me to queue for the movie tickets while I went to buy books for us. Unlike the event at SM Megamall, this time fans were able to actually buy passes to get inside the event center by buying a movie ticket and anything that’s worth P500 in any Glorietta shop. We opted for the bookstore, as we wanted to be sure we were buying what we really wanted. I ended up buying Rurouni Kenshin Volume 6 Big Edition, which is a compilation of Vol. 16-18 and Mitch Albom’s First Phone Call from Heaven for Myleen.

Our passes and movie tickets!

And so there, thankfully we made it before the passes ran out. Unlike Wednesday’s Megamall event, the event place is bigger and because there were seats for the press and VIPs, the standing area was a bit far from the stage.

The event opened with a special performance with the music of ONE OK ROCK’s Mighty Long Fall, which is the movie’s main soundtrack.

The cast and the director being introduced by Sam Oh.

There was so much energy at the event, from the crowd and most especially from Munetaka-san who’s always as cheerful as ever, again in his very cute slippers. Sam Oh, who was the MC for the night even commented that he’s exactly like his character Sanosuke. He also mentioned that one of his injuries was when he lost a tooth from all the hitting,  but saying that it’s okay because he’s Sanosuke elicited loud cheers from the crowd.

Press con proper with the Philippine press members.

Takeru on the other hand was as serious as he was yesterday, but I did see him laughing and smiling during the press con. I noticed he has very big eyes as if he’s always wide-eyed but that’s cute though. I think one of the best things he mentioned was about his personal connection to Kenshin.

“In my case, in my daily life, in what I do; I always ask myself if I’m not sure of my decision, if it was Kenshin what would he decide to do? He is like a mentor to me, someone I respect and look up to.”

Munetaka-san also gave a good answer about the significant role of Sanosuke to Kenshin. “As for the role of Kenshin, likewise; Sanosuke’s role is to protect, to support his character so he will be able to commit to his dedication.”

Before the press con ended, there was this question about the values the movie could impart to viewers who are not familiar with the story. I find it commendable how Takeru answered the question with this:

“People would say to just forget the past and move on. But in my case, I feel how Kenshin is, how he still lets his past influence his life. I feel that it’s also very admirable that he still remembers and looks back to his past and tries to live a better life based on that past. And for me, hopefully everyone could also learn that way of looking at the past, living and moving forward.”

Director Otomo also said almost the same thing, but with a special reference to Kenshin’s Sakabatou.

“I admire Kenshin because he’s carrying his Sakabatou all the time and that’s a constant reminder of his past, so for him to always have it with him, that dark past and use that as a reminder as he moves forward with his life is very admirable.”

There was also a mini-exhibition with the display of an actual Kenshin and Sanosuke costumes, as well as display photos of some of the movie’s locations in Kumamoto.

Prior to the press con, the cast was also awarded by the Makati City Council as cultural friendship ambassadors for bridging the Japanese and Filipino culture through Rurouni Kenshin and its distinctly Japanese way of of portraying cultural traditions during the Meiji period.

It was a great experience for everyone to have these special events for the Rurouni Kenshin:Kyoto Inferno premiere. I can see that the director and the cast had a wonderful time with their stay and meeting the fans.  I hope this is just the start of more Japanese movies to be screened regularly in cinemas, just like what Takeru said.

The event ended with a positive message from Takeru.

“I hope that Rurouni Kenshin will pave the way for more Japanese movies in the Philippines, with that I hope I can come back again. For this to happen, I need all of your help. Tell your friends, tell everybody about the movie. Looking forward to meeting all of you again. Thank you so much for coming today.”

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More photos from the costume exhibition.

And that is me. I really had to pose near Iseya-san. ^_^

Kumamon! A postcard with descriptions of the places in Kumamoto, the main location of the movie.

Myleen with the cosplayers

RuroKen Big Edition Vol. 6. It’s pretty heavy, I don’t think I can carry this anywhere. I’m thinking of completing the manga. This is the most expensive I’ve ever spent on a manga. It’s even more expensive than a hardbound novel. At least it’s got 3 volumes inside than buying the per volume manga.

Kyoto Inferno opens in theaters mainly SM Cinemas and Ayala Cinemas this August 20, followed by The Legend Ends on September 24.

The Deep Blue Sea & Suite Francaise with The Invisible Woman

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I finally have the books in my hands!!! Just last week, my fourth brother’s girlfriend arrived from Singapore for a brief vacation. All thanks to my brother’s girlfriend who bought the books for me at an online bookshop in Singapore. At least, I only have to pay these when her credit card’s due.

I arrived from work on a Wednesday, 29th of January, the first thing I saw on my table is Tom Hiddleston on the cover of “The Deep Blue Sea”, and my heart skip a beat. Just so happy.

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First Official Image From ‘Suite Francaise’ Starring Michelle Williams & Matthias Schoenaerts (http://blogs.indiewire.com/)

These two gorgeous pieces are the latest books I’ve acquired for this year. Both authors, I mean the other one is a playwright, Terence Rattigan is a British playwright. I haven’t heard their names before to be honest. I know nothing about them. However, my professor of a brother told  me about Suite Francaise few months ago. He told me that it already has a movie in the works starring Michelle Williams, Kritin Scott-Thomas. It’s probably in post-production now, as according to Wiki, filming is done.

There wasn’t any trailer available yet as far as I know, but it quite striked an interest with me despite the wartime and Nazi occupation setting. This genre isn’t one of my favorites to read, but I just recently read Sally Gardner’s “The Red Necklace” (while listening to an audiobook narrated by none other than Tom Hiddleston) which is set during the French Revolution and I loved it.

Suite Francaise, the book is the title of a planned sequence of five novels by Irene Nemirovsky. She completed the first two of the series when she was arrested and detained as a Jew. Her daughters preserved the two novels and were published later in 2004 in a single volume – Suite Francaise. ( Wikipedia)

There are (3) novels: Storm in June, Dolce and Captivity. All novels are mainly about portraying life in France during the Nazi occupation. In the film, it centres on a romance between a French villager (Michelle Williams) and a German soldier (Matthias Schoenaerts). 

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Movie stills ( http://bucketreviews.com/) Love this scene.

As for “The Deep Blue Sea,” I discovered this through the recent film adaptation starring Rachel Weisz and Tom Hiddleston in the lead roles, for the centenary celebration of Terence Rattigan. I am so in love with the film. It is such a beautiful piece of art and ultimately amazing performances from both Rachel Weisz and Tommy. Tom’s role as Freddie Page is actually one of my favorite roles of his now. I can’t hate the guy, he’s not a total scoundrel. He has a heart and I know he also loves Hester (Rachel Weisz). And since I love the film so much, I decided I want to read the play. And luckily, Blue (brother’s girlfriend) found it online in Singapore. And now here it is. I’m in the process of reading it now and loving it.

Oh, “The Deep Blue Sea” is an adaptation of the 1952 Terence Rattigan play and a remake of the 1955 film of the same title about the wife of a judge who engages in an affair with a former RAF (Royal Air Force) pilot.

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Another movie stills ( fanpop.com). Gosh, this is the most romantic dance scene ever. I love it to bits.

This is the first time I’m ever reading a play. It’s a bit strange for me, I feel I’m reading a film script with all the description of the character movements and set-up. If I had magic, I would have made it a novel. I still prefer it to be a novel because it’s longer and it’s all really up to a reader to imagine it while reading. Like turning the novel into a film in his/her mind. In any case, it’s still a fresh nice experience to read a play. There are actually things that differed in the book of the play and in the movie. I would be so chuffed to see it have a new play version in London’s West End, of course with the cast of the recent adaptation.

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Poster from //www.impawards.com/

There’s also another book I’m still waiting. Blue has already ordered it but it’s a special order so it may take (3) weeks for her to collect it at Raffles. Crossing my fingers, we’ll get it. The title is Claire Tomalin’s “The Invisible Woman” about Charles Dickens and his affair to a young actress that he kept a secret until his passing. The film adaptation stars the great Ralph Fiennes as Dickens and Felicity Jones as Nelly Ternan, the young actress. I’m so intrigued with it so I want to read the book before the film. I’m not a big fan of Dickens actually and know not much about him but I love the trailer. I’m just animated about the book as I am on the film, I just have to have it.

The Fault In Our Stars | Official Trailer

I came to know this on Buzzfeed’s list of 16 books to read before they hit cinemas. I skimmed through it and checked to see which ones might strike an interest with me with the trailer and synopsis alone. This didn’t have a trailer yet in that list so I just read what’s the story about.

When I saw that the main character is afflicted with a dreaded disease, I had to stop and think. I definitely do not like stories where someone has a disease cause you’ll know what’s gonna happen to her/him at the ending. But this trailer shows it maybe pretty worthy to watch. The trailer is pretty good actually.

It does have that teenage love story feel though, which I think I’m quite too old for. But it’s just me.