Tuesday, January 31, 2006

A "Black Night" in Asia

Horror anthology film "Black Night," a Hong Kong/Japan/Thailand co-production, is to be released in Japan and six other Asian territories this summer.

Its three thirty-minute installments are set in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Bangkok. Japan's entry is entitled "Dark Hole," Thailand's "Lost Memory," and Hong Kong's "Rinjin" (Neighbor).

The cast of "Dark Hole" is headed by Kashiwabara Takashi ("Another Heaven") and Seto Asaka ("One Missed Call 2"). Filming began in Tokyo last December, and editing is currently under way.

The producers of "Black Night" are aiming for entry in this year's Cannes Film Market, as well as an eventual U.S. release.

* As seen on Twitch

(sources: Yahoo! Japan & Nikkan Sports)

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Ichikawa Kon back behind the camera

90-year-old Ichikawa Kon is to return to the director's chair to remake his own "Inugami-ke no Ichizoku" with the original film's star Ishizaka Koji.

Based on the novel of the same name by Yokomizo Seishi, "Inugami-ke no Ichizoku" was released in 1976 and made 1,560,000,000 at the domestic box office (as the average ticket price at the time was only 852 yen, that works out at 2,400,000,000 yen when converted in line with today's average ticket price of 1300 yen). The team of director Ichikawa and actor Ishizaka went on to produce four more adaptations of Yokomizo's books: "Akuma no Temariuta" (1977), "Gokumonto" (1977), "Jo-oh-bachi" (1978) and "Byoinzaka no Kubikukuri no Ie" (1979).

"We won't push Ichikawa, so the usual shooting period of around two months will be doubled," said Kadokawa Pictures President Kuroi Kazuo. The production budget for the original version was 205 million yen, but with the extra filming time the cost of the remake could rise to 700,000,000 yen (around US$6,000,000).

Ichikawa was initially approached by horror film producer Ichise Taka ("Ring," "Juon" etc.) to gauge his interest in directing a remake. After watching the original on video and thinking it over for two days, he decided to join the project.

"As opposed to thirty years ago, you can now do lots of interesting things with CG and other technology, so I'd like to rejuvenate and become involved in this era," he said.

The story will remain mostly unchanged, but Ichikawa is currently re-editing the screenplay in order to cut the running time by around twenty minutes to under two hours.

Ishizaka (64), who returns to the role of Kindaichi Kosuke for the first time in 27 years, will be bringing back the character's trademark messy long-haired, dandruff-laden look that he himself created. For the original version of "Inugami-ke no Ichizoku," Ishizaka approached cosmetics giant Shiseido for help in realizing Kindaichi's disheveled appearance as described in Yokomizo's book, but was turned away.

"They refused, saying "we are a company that makes things beautiful." So I came up with the idea of grinding breadcrumbs and rubbing them into my hair to resemble dandruff. Whenever I washed my hair the breadcrumbs would swell up, so during the latter half of the shoot I didn't bother to wash it anymore."

"We can't forget the dandruff this time either, so I'm preparing my own stock of breadcrumbs."

Kadokawa Haruki, who masterminded the 1976 production and devised its revolutionary television advertising campaigns and publishing tie-ups, broke ties with publishing company Kadokawa Shoten in 1993, so this time the film will be remade as "a Kadokawa film by Kadokawa Shoten."

Filming begins this April, and distributors Toho have scheduled the film's release for the first half of 2007.

Here's a rough synopsis:

Inugami Sahei, a pharmaceutical magnate of considerable means, passes away at his remote lodge near Lake Nasu. He leaves behind a will stipulating that his entire fortune will go to the man who marries Nonomiya Tamayo, the grandaughter of his benefactor. Three of Sahei's grandsons, each born to a different mother, vie for Tamayo's hand. Foreseeing a fierce battle for the inheritance, Sahei's lawyer enlists the aid of unconventional detective Kindaichi Kosuke who arrives at the lodge as a series of bizarre murders begins...

* As seen on Twitch

(sources: Sanspo & Yahoo! Japan)

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Why King Kong fell off

Here in Japan, it didn't take long for the big ape to fall from his initial perch a few floors down from the top of the box office. This Mainichi Daily News article translating a story from weekly news magazine Shukan Shincho offered some valid explanations (ignore the last-para error concerning the film's running time).

"It took a long time for the prints to get to Japan and the biggest reason it failed was because of a lack of promotion," movie critic Mutsuo Sato tells Shukan Shincho. "That, and it was a bit grotesque, with scenes featuring humans being devoured by dinosaurs and giant bugs. The scenes between the beauty and Kong are the main part of the movie, but it was sometimes hard to understand what was happening between them. Besides, the most thrilling part of the movie -- the scene where Kong fights the planes from atop the Empire State Building -- was plugged endlessly on TV and left nothing for people to go to the theaters for." (source: MDN)

Synopsis of Kitamura Ryuhei's "Lovedeath"

Here's my rough and ready translation of the synopsis of Kitamura Ryuhei's "Lovedeath" on the Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival homepage:

"A man and a woman try to make it through "Chrysalis Day" together. The fate of the rest of their lives will be decided by how they choose to spend this day. Sai, a violent man who rushes headlong to stay true to his pure love, and the beautiful Shira [not sure on the spelling] who can bend any man to her will. Chasing Shira, who is fleeing with money, are a group of cool and vicious gang enforcers, a cadre of loopy assassins, an out-of-control detective, and a host of other far-out characters. No one can stop Sai and Shira's wild-eyed runaway love! A mightily crazy, awesomely cool tale of one couple."

The breathless synopsis is followed by this interesting line:

"With nothing left to destroy after his last film "Godzilla: Final Wars," Kitamura Ryuhei returns to his roots and revives his independent production style." (source: YIFFF)