May 112015


Anna (voiced in the English-language version by Hailee Steinfeld) is pretty down on herself. We don’t really know why, but she wants to hide herself away from the world. Her worried foster-mother sends her to stay with relatives (the Oiwas) in rural Hokkaido, hoping it will somehow help. In the countryside Anna discovers a lot more than fresh air. When Marnie Was There is reviewed after the jump.

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Mar 122015



Thanks to Courtney Small for this addition to The Forgotten series. You can find more of Courtney’s writing at Cinema Axis [Ed].

One of the benefits of having a controversial film like 50 Shades of Grey dominate the box office is that it gets people talking about a subject that has been on my mind a lot recently: Sex.  Let me clarify as not to come off as a pervert – though my recent admission on Twitter to enjoying trashy films like Wild Orchid and The Hot Spot may suggest otherwise – my thoughts are not so much of the act itself, but rather focused on the way it is portrayed on-screen.  I have been asking myself for days where does the line between art and pornography begin?  Is their art in porn?  I am sure Jack Horner, Burt Reynolds’ character in Paul Thomas Anderson’s ode to the porn industry Boogie Nights, would argue there is.  Conversely, can there be porn within art?  Are they both intertwined in a complicated and passionate embrace?

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Oct 072014


The Japanese Film Festival is back for 2014 with over 50 titles featuring in the varied programme.

JFF opens its 2014 program with the Australian Premiere of Lady Maiko, a musical comedy directed by Masayuki Suo (Sumo Do, Sumo Don’t; Shall We Dance?) based loosely on the Audrey Hepburn classic My Fair Lady.

Closing out the festival, Yuya Ishii, the director of last year’s award-winning opener The Great Passage, returns with his latest offering, The Vancouver Asahi, set pre-WWII when Japanese immigrants were migrating to Canada. Based on the true story of the Japanese-Canadian baseball team of the same name, this sporting tale of underdogs overcoming racial discrimination, shows that baseball and life are not about winning – it’s about how well you play the game.

Other festival highlights include:

The Light Only Shines There (Mipo O, 2014) – Japan’s entry for the foreign language Academy award, the film details the romance between an unemployed man and his friend’s sister.
Tokyo Tribe (Sion Sono, 2014) – the ultra-cool hip-hop musical Tokyo Tribe (pictured) takes you down to the underbelly of Tokyo for a surreal night of turf wars. JFF will also screen Sono’s Why Don’t You Play In Hell, a bizarre showcase of gangster violence taken to comic extremes.
The Snow White Murder Case (Yoshihiro Nakamura, 2014)- a compelling commentary on a media-obsessed world in an atypical who-dunnit mystery.

As well as new release films, the festival also runs an accomapnying programme of Japanese classic films, which include many must-see treasures. This year, JFF Classics 2014’s overarching theme pool the talents of critically acclaimed directors and actresses of the 1950s and 1960s. Mikio Naruse, Kon Ichikawa and Kenji Mizoguchi are amongst the current selection of internationally renowned directors, alongside leading actresses of the time, Hideko Takamine, Ayako Wakao and Machiko Kyo.

The Japanese Film Festival tours nationally October-December, as well as visiting Auckland during November. For information about dates for your city, tickets and the full programme, visit the official festival website.

Japanese Film Festival’s official channels

Facebook: japanesefilmfest
Twitter: @japanfilmfest / #JFF2014AU

Apr 162014

For six years they have raised their sons. They have shared special moments, taught them life essentials and watched them grow into their own little people. After six years of sharing and shaping a child’s life, what would you do if you were told that your child was not really yours? My review of Like Father, Like Son (そして父になる) after the jump.

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Nov 132013

What seemed like a simple telephone scam for some easy cash, quickly escalates to a surreal nightmare that Hitoshi Nagano is unable to escape from. My review of It’s Me, It’s Me (Ore Ore/俺俺) screening as part of the Japanese Film Festival after the jump.

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Nov 032013

Taishoken  is a name synonymous with tasty, quality ramen. What started as one tiny shop in an inconspicuous suburban Tokyo location, grew to be a powerful brand. The man responsible for the original creation is Kazuo Yamagishi – aka ‘The God of Ramen’. My review of the documentary showing as part of the Japanese Film Festival, is after the jump.

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Sep 042013

The 17th Japanese Film Festival programme has been announced and for the first time in the festival’s history, the programme is a national one. 12 of the latest box office hits plus 5 classics will tour all 5 cities: Brisbane, Perth, Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne.

The festival will open with The Great Passagea celebration of a vision to create the best Japanese dictionary starring two of Japan’s leading actors, Ryuhei Matsuda and Aoi Miyazaki. Closing the festival is the warm-hearted drama Fruits of Faith, a film which perfectly captures the Japanese spirit of dedication in the quest for the perfect and near impossible organic apple crop. The film is based on a true story and bestselling novel.

Other highlights include:

*The live-action adaptation of Tatsunoko’s classic anime Gatchaman (also known as Battle of the Planets/G-Force)

*Dragonball Z: Battle of Gods, featuring the legendary voice of Masakazu Morita (Bleach, Tiger & Bunny, One Piece).

*The Complex – the first horror film in almost a decade from director Hideo Nakata (The Ring)

*Kiyoshi Kurosawa blurs the line between subconscious and reality in spine-chiller Real. The film is screening at both TIFF & NYFF

*The God of Ramen tells the story of charismatic noodle shop owner Kazuo Yamagishi. See why customer’s queued regularly for over two hours a day for a bowl of ramen.

A free abridged program traveling to regional cities Broome (17 – 18 September), Townsville (26 October), Hobart (13, 14 & 16 October), Cairns (3 November) and Darwin (TBC) include titles from the 2012 major city line-up including Arrietty, A Ghost of a Chance and A Boy & His Samurai.


Major city festival dates and locations
BRISBANE: 16 – 20 October Events Cinema Brisbane Myer Centre
PERTH: 23 – 27 October Hoyts Westfield Carousel & State Library Theatre
CANBERRA: 30 October – 3 November Capital Cinema Manuka
SYDNEY: 14 – 24 November Event Cinemas George Street
MELBOURNE: 28 November – 8 December Hoyts Melbourne Central & ACMI Cinemas, Australian
Centre for the Moving Image

For more information visit the festival website: and follow the festival goodness on Twitter: @japanfilmfest / #jff17