Thursday, April 23, 2009

Lee Byung-hun Meets Kimura Takuya in High-Profile Film

[ 2009-04-21 ]

Midnight Eye interview: Masanobu Ando

picture: Masanobu Ando'

Midnight Eye interview: Masanobu Ando

Friday, April 10, 2009

Flashy fisticuffs galore in manga-based drama

Japan has its share of teenage punks, but compared with their scarier counterparts in the United States, they are rather tame. Instead of spraying enemies and strangers with automatic weapons, they settle their disputes with methods usually far less lethal, from fists to head butts.

Crows Zero II Rating: (3.5 out of 5)
Star Star Star Star Star
Crows Zero II
High jump: Shun Oguri in "Crows Zero II" ©2009 HIROSHI TAKAHASHI/"CROWS ZERO II" SEISAKU IINKAI

Director: Takashi Miike
Running time: 129 minutes
Language: Japanese
Opens April 11, 2009
[See Japan Times movie listing]

Japanese pop-culture portrayals of punks, from manga to trading cards, may stress their coolness, but there is also often a leavening of humor that undercuts the ultra macho image these guys are trying to project.

One example is the Hiroshi Takahashi comic "Crows," which ran for eight years from 1981 in Shonen Champion magazine and has sold 42 million copies in paperback editions. The Takashi Miike film "Crows Zero," based on the manga, grossed ¥2.5 billion in 2007, becoming the prolific Miike's biggest-ever hit.

More HERE!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

A vision of punkdom straight from a comic

Punks, in their various post-Elvis incarnations, have been a feature of Japanese society — and films — for almost half a century. More recent, though, is the vogue for what might be called punks-brawl-for-fun films, which celebrate the joy and glory of smashing heads together with your four or 40 best pals.

Drop Rating: (3.5 out of 5)
Star Star Star Star Star
On the warpath: Kazuki Namioka, Toru Wakatsuki, Hiro Mizushima, Masahito Sakamoto, Yuji Ayabe and Hiroki Narimiya in "Drop" ©"DROP" SEISAKU IINKAI

Director: Hiroshi Shinagawa
Running time: 122 minutes
Language: Japanese
Opens March 20, 2009
[See Japan Times movie listing]

One progenitor was "Be Bop High School," a long-running manga by Kazuhiro Kiuchi that focused on punks at a bottom-of-the-barrel private high school and their cool, if comic, dustups. The manga spawned everything from feature films to pachinko games.

The hero of "Drop," an autobiographical first feature by comedian Hiroshi Shinagawa, is a fan of manga much like "Be Bop High School" (the film is based on a best-selling manga that Shinagawa writes and artist Dai Suzuki draws). Though his weapon of choice is his mouth, not his fists, Hiroshi (Hiroki Narimiya) transfers from his peace-loving private junior high to a gang-ridden public school so he can get in on the action.

More Here!

Swords and slapstick Injecting some humor into the gory tale of Musashi

Friday, April 3, 2009
Special to The Japan Times

In Los Angeles last week, the showdown in the World Baseball Classic between Japan's "Samurai" and their South Korean rivals had TV audiences gripped. So, too, were those at Saitama Arts Theater, who witnessed an acting duel between 26-year-olds Tatsuya Fujiwara and Shun Oguri in "Musashi," a hilarious samurai sword-fighting tale directed by the theater's resident dramatist, Yukio Ninagawa.

News photo
Young blades: Tatsuya Fujiwara (left) in the title role of Hisashi Inoue's long-awaited "Musashi" and Shun Oguri as his rival, Kojiro Sasaki HORIPRO

Written by Hisashi Inoue, former president of the Japan Pen Club, "Musashi" is led by the performances of these two, both Ninagawa favorites. Fujiwara made his career debut aged 15 at the Barbican in London in Ninagawa's production of "Shintokumaru (by Shuji Terayama)," while Oguri performed for English audiences in 2006 with a role in Ninagawa's version of "Titus Andronicus" at Stratford-upon-Avon in the Royal Shakespeare Company's "Complete Works" festival.

More Here!

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