By Rica Arevalo
With the 24th French Film Festival coming to a close in Bacolod City, we look forward to the 22nd Japan Film Festival popularly known as Eigasai happening this Wednesday (July 3) at selected cinemas in Metro Manila, Tacloban, Legazpi, Iloilo, Davao, Pangasinan, and Cebu. The festival runs until Aug. 25.
Japanese movies are unique. They are the only ones that cater to the many anime and action-adventure samurai fans. Japanese horror is almost a genre of its own.
The opening film this Wednesday is the historical drama Samurai Marathon, directed by Bernard Rose. The story begins when America arrives in Japan for trade. They introduce guns to these peace-loving samurais. And a feudal lord organizes a marathon to get his men in shape. A ninja becomes a secret spy and wrongfully sends a letter informing his comrades that the race is a sign of rebellion. Bloody clashes among the runners and bandits arise, destroying and killing innocent people.
Based on true events, this marks the first marathon held in Japan. The film comes from Akihiro Dobashi’s novel, Bakumatsu Marathon Samurai.
Yakiniku Dragon is a family drama about a Korean “blended” family living in Japan in the late 1960s. Yonggil (Kim Sang-ho) is a proprietor of a yakiniku barbecue restaurant squatting on a government property. He lost his arm when he was drafted in the war. Each family member has a sad subplot involving extramarital affairs, domestic problems, school bullying, suicide, and discrimination. Yong-gil works very hard to the point of missing important milestones, especially with his son Tokio (Shinpei Ooe). He suddenly becomes an old, useless man in the town he has lived in for 27 years. Heartbreak comes when a tragedy occurs and Yong-gil cries, “Give me back my son.” He continues to protest the eviction and finally accepts to leave his disappearing town upon the prodding of his family.
Kakegurui is a Japanese manga series adapted into a film by director Tsutomu Hanabusa. Anime fans will truly enjoy this out of this world elite school for the rich founded 100 years ago that trains students to gamble rather than to get good grades. The best gambler is honored with wealth, prestige, and popularity. The student council oversees the gambling activities and to dispute the abusive behavior of the leaders, an anti-gambling organization was created to end the reign of the president. Transferee student Yumeko (Minami Hamabe) represents the underdogs and will do anything to topple Kirari (Elaiza Ikeda). Amane Murasame (Hio Miyazawa) who lost his sister is lured into gambling again to avenge her death. The film teaches us to live our life as we wish and not to be manipulated by outside forces.
For romantic drama followers, catch The 8-Year Engagement as Hisashi (Takeru Satoh) and Mai (Tao Tsuchiya) try to surmount their biggest obstacle and relearn to love one another in this 119-minute film. Hisashi meets Mai at a party with co-workers. With his tummy acting up, he wants to leave early but Mai lectures him about being a killjoy. The two begin dating and get engaged. Three months before the wedding, Mai discovers a tumor in her ovary, which later leaves her comatose. Her condition is rare, occurring only in one of every three million people. The car mechanic fiancé documents their life together by shooting videos of his whereabouts, hoping that one day Mai will be well. Mai’s parents discourage him to stay in the “lifeless” relationship. They want him to forget Mai so as not to ruin his life. But every year, Hisashi comes to the wedding venue to rebook and not to cancel the reservation—a promise he made to Mai. By a miracle, Mai wakes up but doesn’t remember Hisashi. Will true love prevail? The 8-Year Engagement is based on a true story.
For crime mystery, make sure to catch Fukuzawa Katsuo’s engaging The Crimes That Bind. Detective Kyoichiro Kaga (Hiroshi Abe) and theater director Asai (Matsushima Nanako) struggle to understand their love-hate relationship with their deceased parents. Set in Nihonbashi district of Tokyo, Kaga is called to investigate a woman’s decomposing body in a deserted flat. He discovers a connection between the woman’s murder and his mother who died 16 years before. His mother worked at a hostess club but her life remained private with only a mysterious lover visiting her. Asai’s father committed suicide to save his daughter. During the verbal sparring of Kaga and Asai, we discover that Asai’s father is not really dead but has hidden from the authorities for 26 years. The father and daughter would secretly meet and bond from a distance. Adapted from bestselling author Keigo Higashino, the film is Japan’s second highest grossing locally produced film in 2018.
Japanese movies are unique. They are the only ones that cater to the many anime and actionadventure samurai fans. Japanese horror is almost a genre of its own.
Adapted from Karakara-Kemuri’s popular manga comic, Laughing Under the Clouds is about three brothers who need to protect their family shrine and fight the deadly Orochi snake demon, who rises every 300 years to bring catastrophe and disaster to the people. Tenka (Sota Fukushi), the eldest, defeats his enemies using his fan. He rescues his brothers from troubles all the time. Middle child Soramaru (Yuma Nakayama) suffers from sibling rivalry. He always struggles with the idea that he is weaker than Tenka. Chūtarō (Kirato Wakayama) is the youngest of the family while brother Shirasu (Ren Kiriyama) was adopted from the Fuma clan. His evil secret is to resurrect the Orochi. Betrayal takes a backseat when the family’s role to bring back laughter succeeds.
Win or lose, Tamako (Yui Aragaki) and Hagiwara (Eita Nagayama) compete in The National Table Tennis Championships to make their losing teammates happy in Mixed Doubles, directed by Jun’ichi Ishikawa. Ping pong protégé Tamako faces her demons after retiring from the sport and competing against former lover and star player Akihiko (Kôji Seto). She goes back to her hometown and joins the table tennis club that her deceased mother founded. Will she rise up from her heartbreak and defeat the top team led by Akihiko?
Open to the public, the JFF | Eigasai is free of charge, except for the films that will be screened at Shangri-La Plaza Cinema (July 3 to14). Tickets are at P100 per screening.
www.jfmo.org.ph |+632) 811- 6155 to 58