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

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

22814065_412196969183148_3841517733322207837_n

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

pdc_thirdmurderposter1

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.

afterstorm

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

call-me-by-your-name-film-poster-2017

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.

Advertisements

Film Festival Circuit II: Eiga Sai 2015 and the introduction to Ryuhei Matsuda

Watching Eiga Sai has been an addictive habit and if I could turn back, I would have wanted to have attended the very first edition of Eiga Sai. But I think when it started I was still in college, so it would have been a little difficult to spend almost the whole day to queue just to ensure a seat. Nevertheless, I’m still happy that it’s my third year attending it and I have my former then current work to thank for it because it opened more doors for me to discover my Japanese addiction.

The recent Eiga Sai was also attended by director Yuya Ishii and producer Takuro Nagai of the opening feature “Our Family” (2014) starring Satoshi Tsumabuki, Sosuke Ikematsu, Kyozo Nagatsuka and Mieko Harada about a family in the midst of breaking apart but a sudden news of their mother being diagnosed with cancer brings them back together.

It is based on Kazumasa Hayami’s same-titled novel and Ishii’s follow-up project to the commercial and critical success “The Great Passage” (2013) starring Ryuhei Matsuda. Ishii shared that he made the film because he understands some issues and situations the Wakana family is going through and can be likened to his own family.

This year’s line-up also includes contemporary films “Parasyte,” “Wood Job,” “Thermae Romae II” and “Princess Jellyfish.” And under the savory Japan category are “It’s A Beautiful Life – Irodori,” “A Tale of Samurai Cooking – A True Love Story,” “Patisserie Coin de Rue,” and two documentaries “The God of Ramen” and “Wa-shoku – Beyond Sushi.”

The Road to Ryuhei Matsuda

kinopoisk.ru

It seriously makes me happy everytime I get to see one of my favorite actors at the big screen, even more so when it’s free, which is why I always make an effort to watch their film when it’s included in either the Eiga Sai or Korean Film Festival.

Just like 2013’s Eiga Sai where I first watched Kenichi Matsuyama at the big screen, who of course happens to be one of my favorite actors, this time, I was able to watch an actor who’s also very talented and popular for the first time who just became one of my favorites after seeing him in “Mahoro Ekimae Kyousoukyoko” (Tada’s Do-It-All House: Disconcerto).

The Great Passage opens the door 

Co-starring Aoi Miyazaki, Joe Odagiri

Unlike Kenichi Matsuyama, who I started following since I watched the first Death Note film back in 2006 or 2007, I have only seen or heard about Ryuhei Matsuda on Screen Red some weeks before the Eiga Sai started in Edsa Shangri-La Mall. I happened to chance upon his award-winning film “Fune Wo Amu” (The Great Passage) and Japan’s representative at the 2014 Academy Awards best foreign language film. But I wasn’t able to start the film so I ended up not watching it the first time. I saw it again few days after on TV, but again it already started.

And when the line-up for this year’s Eiga Sai came out, I saw his name in one of the films, and just like I always do I read each and every film’s synopsis and check out their trailers to make a shortlist. Fortunately, I ended up having the film on my shortlist because I like the trailer and the plot. So that’s the story of how Ryuhei Matsuda became one of my most favorite actors, next to Kang Dong-won who’s always been my top bias for the longest time, which means he already has pushed down some of my other favorite actors on the list who I have known longer than him. That’s how strong his effect on me.

Shota Matsuda in Hana Yori Dango 

Shota is the one in blue coat, first from right

But there is something else that totally sent me off the roof. That’s when I found out Shota Matsuda is his little brother. I’ve known Shota since the first Hana Yori Dango in 2005 but I think I saw the drama a year later, as I was motivated to watch the Japanese version of Meteor Garden that I so love. It just so happens that my favorite character is Hua Ze Lei in the Taiwanese version, who is Rui Hanazawa in the Japanese one that was portrayed by Shun Oguri. But in all honesty, I think Shota is the best looking among the four and and he’s perfect for Soujiro Nishikado’s playboy demeanor. Well that’s when until recently, I came to know about his beloved onii-chan.

I did kinda notice the similar surname but I didn’t pay much attention, and initially thought they just have the same surname but no relation. Finding out the real connection between them was a huge surprise, not that they don’t resemble each other, they do when you look closely, but more on the idea that they’re both very handsome and the fact that they’re even brothers – they share the same parents, same blood, growing up together makes it something close to a miracle. It’s not everyday, even in celebrity siblings that you get two brothers or two sisters who are both equally handsome and very talented. It was like my mind wasn’t very ready to take the awesome fact, totally blew my mind.

But then things took a different turn and I came to adore Ryuhei more than Shota. The very first thing I noticed about him is his tender cat eyes, they just look so mysterious and somewhat sad. His eyes speak volumes of things and stories in the most mysterious ways. And I love it when he smiles because I get to see his dimples and his silly laugh in the Mahoro series all got me. I find his features different from Shota despite having a resemblance to each other, because Shota is more of the conventional kind of a good looking guy and Ryuhei is not, which is why my vote goes to Ryuhei.

Mahoro Films and Series 

Mahoro Ekimae Tada Benriken, the first film

I started with Ryuhei at the recent Eiga Sai through the second film titled Tada’s Do-It-All House: Disconcerto and third installment of the Mahoro series, one of the most popular and most successful series of film and TV adaptations from the the Naoki Prize-winning series of novels by Shion Miura.

Mahoro Ekimae Bangaichi – the series

In this second film, Gyoten (Ryuhei) has been staying with Tada (Eita) in running his benri-ya (handyman business) in Mahoro, a fictional laidback place in Japan for two or three years since the events from the first film (2011) and the series (2013). They accept almost all kinds of odd jobs, from cleaning, organizing, walking pets, driving and more. And most of the time, the two get involved with their clients more than they should. Tada and Gyoten are both divorcees, with past stories they want to forget and run away from.

Mahoro Ekimae Kyousoukyoko – the second film

This time, the two buddies are tasked by the local gang leader Hoshi (Kengo Kora) to investigate a mysterious cult group that produces and sells organic vegetables. Things get more messy when Nagiko, Gyoten’s former wife with whom he has a young daughter named Haruka is placed in the care of Tada while she’s away overseas. Tada is scared of what Gyoten might do, especially since he knows Gyoten doesn’t like kids and even more so when he finds out the little girl is his daughter.

Scenes from the series

What I love about the duo of Ryuhei and Eita is that they really complement each other, this one of a kind chemistry I haven’t seen in male actors before. And because of their amazing combination, I feel as an audience that Tada and Gyoten would be at lost without the other.

At the time Gyoten met Tada again in years at the bus station from the first film, it was the right moment for the both of them. Tada, then still couldn’t moved on from the passing of his son that led to his divorce, while Gyoten was on his way to kill his parents because they keep asking Nagiko to see Haruka. I know these all now because I’ve already finished the first film and the series after seeing the second film of course.

It’s also a unique story of two former classmates who find themselves face to face with each other again and becoming best buddies in the process, helping each other out when one needs the other. I have never seen such a story in any of the dramas I’ve seen before.

It’s also very unpredictable and highly enjoyable, I could never guess what adventure would the two be involved with in the next episode. Well-acted, mainly from Ryuhei and Eita who carry the direction of the film and series, picturesque cinematography and fun-loaded, naturally funny story and episodes.

And because of everything, Gyoten Haruhiko has become one of my most favorite fictional characters ever.

I’m also very delighted to know that The Great Passage, in which he won a number of best actor awards will be out in English edition next fall by Amazon Crossing as I was told by a caring staff from Kobunsha, its original publisher when I asked a sample English translation of the novel.