Friday, December 15, 2006

Movie Matome 15/12/06

Following on from yesterday's bit about Toho, the studio have also unveiled their 21-film lineup for 2007. Of that number, seven are co-productions with Fuji TV, five are with Nihon TV, TBS and Asahi have three each, and TV Tokyo has two. (source:

"The Mamiya Brothers" and "Shining Boy & Little Randy" actress Tokiwa Takako has a new film opening on January 20th entitled "Fudeko: Sono Ai - Tenshi no Piano". Directed by Yamada Hisako and co-starring Ichikawa Emiya, Ogura Ichiro and Watanabe Azusa, it's a biopic of education pioneer Ishii Fudeko that focuses on her efforts to establish Takinogawa Gakuen, Japan's first ever facility for children with intellectual disabilities. (source: Nikkan Sports)

Cinema Cafe's report on yesterday's press conference announcing the production of Izutsu Kazuyuki's "Pacchigi 2: Love and Peace" (previously covered here) has pictures of stars Isaka Shunya, Nishijima Hidetoshi, Nakamura Yuri, Fujii Takashi, and the director himself. The sequel's setting switches from Kyoto in 1968 to Tokyo in 1974, with its sights set on the discrimination and adversity posed by the adult world instead of the high school love story running through the original. Filming began in late October and is still going with a 300-strong cast, over 5,000 extras, and numerous Korean actors. The first film was shown on roughly 100 screens in Japan plus Cine Quanon's own cinema in South Korea, but this time CQN and co-distributors Showbox are working towards a simultaneous release in Japan and South Korea for May next year on double the amount of screens in Japan and potentially 600 in South Korea. (additional sources: Nikkan Sports, Sanspo)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Movie Matome 14/12/06

A great quote from Miike Takashi about his upcoming "Sukiyaki Western: Jango Django" (previously covered here and here): "Japanese films these days aren't willing to take risks. Some try to copy a hit formula, others are based on bestsellers and so on. It's boring to keep doing the same thing, so we wanted to try our hand at something new. Plus, this cast has the potential to blow all that other stuff away." And he may very well be right, with supporting players of the calibre of Kagawa Teruyuki, Ishibashi Takaaki, Matsushige Yutaka, Shiomi Sansei, Ishibashi Renji, Sakai Masato, Tanaka Yoji, Oguri Shun and Nishida Toshiyuki, not to mention a script by Miike regular Nakamura Masa. (source: Cinematopics)

A few additions and clarifications to yesterday's story on the new Nagasawa Masami pic: the 19-year-old plays a supermodel named Takigawa Karin who tries to reconnect with her childhood love after being diagnosed with an illness. Hirakawa Yuichi will be making his feature film directorial debut, having previously worked with Nagasawa on the recent TV remake of "Sailor Suit and Machine Gun" as well as Yamada Takayuki on "Crying Out Love, in the Center of the World". Filming takes place from January 7th through to late February, and Toho are distributing.

Speaking of Toho, the period from January to November this year saw the company register its biggest ever year at the box office. Of the 27 films it released, 15 made over 1 billion yen with Miyazaki Goro's "Tales from Earthsea" and its haul of ï¿¥7,650,000,000 topping the list. This marks the third year in a row that Toho has generated box office revenue exceeding 50 billion yen. (sources: Sports Hochi, Sanspo, Daily Sports)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Movie Matome 13/12/06

Nagasawa Masami has signed on for yet another junai (pure love) movie, this time alongside Yamada Takayuki and Tsukamoto Takashi. Entitled "Sono Toki wa Kare ni Yoroshiku" (lit. "Say Hi When You See Him"), it's based on a novel by "Be With You" author Ichikawa Takuji about the manager of a small tropical fish shop and a beautiful girl who starts working there part time. Expect a massive marketing blitz in the leadup to its release in summer next year. (source: Nikkan Sports)

Tsumabuki incites divine wrath

Tsumabuki Satoshi takes the lead in an offbeat period film based on Asada Jiro's novel "Tsukigami", adapted for the screen by the venerable team of director Furuhata Yasuo ("Railroad Man", "The Firefly") and cinematographer Kimura Daisaku.

Asada's other works adapted for film include "When the Last Sword is Drawn", "Failan" (which was made into a South Korean film starring Min-sik Choi and Cecilia Cheung), and the recent "Metro ni Notte" and "Tsubakiyama-Kacho no Nanokakan".

Tsumabuki plays a lowly but academically diligent warrior named Bessho Hikoshiro who finds himself unable to move up in the world due to the stifling caste system of the Bakumatsu era. After being expelled from the household into which he was adopted through marriage and separated from his wife and son, he moves in with his disapproving elder brother and his wife. He meets his old class rival Enomoto Takeaki, now a commander of a naval ship, and is later told by a kindly noodle shop owner that Enomoto's rise in social status came about after he prayed at a shrine in Mukojima. Stumbling home drunk one night, Hikoshiro falls down a riverbank and comes across a small run-down shrine which he is convinced is affiliated to the one in Mukojima. Pressing his hands together in prayer, he unwittingly invites the unwanted attentions of the gods of poverty, pestilence and death...

Nishida Toshiyuki plays god of poverty Iseya, Akai Hidekazu is god of pestilence Kuzuryu, and the 1200-year-old death god is embodied by 9-year-old Morisako Ei, better known as the live-action TV incarnation of venerable manga and anime character "Chibi Maruko-chan". Sato Ryuta also features. Sponichi has an early picture of Sato, Tsumabuki and Morisako in character here. Shot at Toei's studio in Uzumasa, Kyoto from late October through to late December, "Tsukigami" opens on June 23rd next year. (source: Sports Hochi)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Movie Matome 12/12/06

Osawa Takao is to play late pro-windsurfer Iijima Natsuki in a biopic tentatively titled "Tengoku de Kimi ni Aetara" (lit. "If I See You in Heaven"). Ito Misaki has been cast as his wife Hiroko, and Shinjo Takehiko ("Heavenly Forest") is lined up to direct. Iijima was the only Japanese to appear in the windsurfing world cup for eight consecutive years, but was diagnosed with liver cancer in 2002. Given six months to live in summer of 2004, he wrote his first novel "Tengoku de Kimi ni Aetara" about his experiences battling cancer, as well as several other published works before his death at the age of 38 in February 2006. Filming begins next March, and a release is scheduled for next autumn. (source: Sanspo)

"Memories of Matsuko" star Nakatani Miki headlines an adaptation of Yamamoto Ichiriki's Naoki Award-winning novel "Akane Sora". It tells the tale of Eikichi and Ofumi, two humble tofu makers who open their own shop in a tenement rowhouse. Hamamoto Masaki directs, and cast members include Uchino Masaaki, Nakamura Baijaku, Katsumura Masanobu, Izumiya Shigeru, Ishibashi Renji and Iwashita Shima. Renowned filmmaker Shinoda Masahiro, retired since 2003, initiated the project and spent two years writing the screenplay with his former assistant director Hamamoto. Kadokawa Herald plan to release the film in spring 2007.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Movie Matome 9/12/06

"Umizaru" director Hasumi Eiichiro's next movie is an ensemble youth drama about mogul skiing entitled "Giniro no Shizun" (lit. "Silver Season"), starring Eita, Tanaka Rena and Tamayama Tetsuji. Using an original screenplay by "A Song to the Sun" (Taiyo no Uta) scribe Bando Kenji, the story follows a former national mogul skiing representative who loses his mojo after an injury, but regains it with the help of his friends and a girl he meets on the slopes. Filming takes place at the Hakuba skifields in Nagano from next January, and the cast and crew will be living on set for 3-4 months. A special mogul course and snow chapel are being made for the shoot, including an indoor set built within a local gymnasium, with the full cooperation of Hakuba Village. Distributor Toho has scheduled a release for winter 2007. (sources: Sanspo, Nikkan Sports, Cinema Today)

Watanabe Ken has won this year's SARVH (Society for Administration of Remuneration for Video) award from the Japan Film Makers Association for executive producing "Memories of Tomorrow" (Ashita no Kioku), in which he also starred alongside Higuchi Kanako. In the JMFA's Shindo Kaneto awards, Makino Masahiro (better known as actor Tsugawa Masahiko) garnered the gold for directing "A Hardest Night" (Nezu no Ban), while Ogigami Naoko picked up the silver as best newcomer for "Kamome Diner" (Kamome Shokudo). (source: Nikkan Sports)

Five-part omnibus film "Life Can Be So Wonderful" (Sekai wa Tokidoki Utsukushii), screened at this year's Tokyo International Film Festival, stars Matsuda Ryuhei, his mum Matsuda Miyuki, Ichikawa Mikako, Katayama Hitomi, Asami Reina, and Emoto Akira. It's the debut feature of director Minorikawa Osamu, who filmed the first part with Matsuda Miyuki back in 2003 before completing the omnibus this year. The movie opens at Eurospace in Tokyo next spring. (source: Cinematopics)

Model/actress Eikura Nana and Maki Daisuke from pop R&B group Exile are to play a student and teacher involved in an illicit romance in "Shibuya-ku Maruyama-cho". The title is taken from a district of Tokyo's Shibuya ward well known for its numerous love hotels. (source: Nikkan Sports)

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Movie Matome 7/12/06

"Swing Girls" and "Kame wa Igai to Hayaku Oyogu" actress Ueno Juri (20) has released a photobook entitled "A Piacere", partially shot in Okinawa. (source: Nikkan Sports)

Add the Weinstein Company to the list of eager bidders for the remake rights to Tsukamoto Shinya's "Nightmare Detective" (Akumu Tantei). In addition, the film has been sold to distributors in the U.S., the U.K., Australia, Italy, Germany, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei. (source: Cinematopics)

Finally, make sure you watch this trailer to "Five Man Army", an exceptionally groovy-looking Italian western from 1969 starring the late great Tanba Tetsuro (pilfered from ScreenGrab).

Miike's yakuza pic wraps, Kimutaku in Fuji TV blockbuster

PS2 game "Ryu ga Gotoku 2" goes on sale today, and production on Miike Takashi's movie adaptation has wrapped. Although the game is restricted to ages 17 and up, the film targets all ages. It's scheduled for release in Japan on March 3rd next year, with South Korea following in summer and North America is also on the cards. Check out the source article for photos of Miike, Sega producer Nagoshi Toshihiro, star Kitamura Kazuki and other cast members at a reception party for the project. (source: +D Games)

Despite his long-held status as Japan's most popular male television actor, for the most part SMAP hearthrob Kimura Takuya (AKA Kimutaku) has been conspicuously absent from the silver screen. All that seems to be changing, with his current lead turn in Yamada Yoji's "Love and Honor" (Bushi no Ichibun), and now Fuji TV's film adaptation of their hit series "Hero." Pulling in an average rating of 30% when it screened in early 2001, the show starred Kimura as a former juvenile delinquent turned unconventional detective, and quickly became Fuji TV's highest rating drama series ever. Fuji's head of film production, mega producer Kameyama Chihiro, had originally considered making a film out of it 3 or 4 years ago, but when a one-off special aired in July this year registered a whopping 30.9% rating the Fuji bean counters began drooling for more. The script is still being written, and filming is scheduled to begin next March including a possible overseas location shoot. Suzuki Masayuki, director of fellow SMAP member Katori Shingo vehicle "Ninja Hattori-kun The Movie", takes the helm. Original cast members Matsu Takako, Otsuka Nene, Abe Hiroshi and Katsumura Masanobu are set to return, and big name guest stars are in the works. Expect something on the scale of the "Bayside Shakedown" films. A release is set for September 2007.(sources: Sanspo,Sports Hochi)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Movie Matome 6/12/06

Fuji TV's "Saiyuki" is inciting righteous indignation within China for its alleged mistreatment of the classic Chinese novel on which it is loosely based (known in English as "Journey to the West"). Media and internet denizens claim it takes too many liberties with the original work, such as the casting of a female actor in the traditionally male role of Tripitaka (Sanzo Hoshi). The high-rating 2005 TV adaptation, an update of a fondly remembered series from the late 1970s, was partly filmed in China and starred SMAP's Katori Shingo as Monkey (Songoku), comedian Uchimura Teruyoshi as Sandy (Sagojo) and perennial geek specialist Ito Takashi as Pigsy (Chohakkai). The trouble apparently began with the announcement of production on a movie version with the same cast to be shot on location in China (for a big summer release in Japan next year), which led a noted Chinese actor known for playing the role of Monkey to grumble about the Japanese versions' crimes against Chinese cultural pride in a newspaper article. A Fuji TV spokesperson stated they weren't aware of any such controversy and declined comment. (source: Sponichi)

Brad Pitt's production company Plan B, "The Ring" and "The Grudge" producer Roy Lee's Vertigo Entertainment, New Regency Pictures and 13 other companies have approached Movie-Eye, producers and distributors of Tsukamoto Shinya's "Nightmare Detective" (Akumu Tantei), with a view to purchasing the film's remake rights. Tsukamoto's latest tour de force was screened at the American Film Market in Santa Monica this past November, and the multi-talented filmmaker is reportedly keen to direct any eventual remake. "Akumu Tantei" opens in Japan next January. (source: Nikkan Sports)

Studio Ghibli made a defacto admission of plagiarism yesterday regarding the lyrics for "Teru no Uta", the haunting theme song for this year's "Tales from Earthsea" (Gedo Senki). Although director Miyazaki Goro had been listed as the sole author of the lyrics, a minor controversy subsequently arose after similarities to early 20th-century poet Hagiwara Sakutaro's "Kokoro" were pointed out. Miyazaki had previously claimed he had merely been influenced by Hagiwara's work, but at a concert by "Teru no Uta" singer Teshima Aoi at the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Tokyo on November 5th a Ghibli spokesperson stated for the first time that the lyrics are directly inspired by "Kokoro". (source: Nikkan Sports)

At the premiere for horror film "Kuchisake Onna", TV personality Sato Eriko (better known to overseas audiences as "Cutie Honey") confirmed that she is romantically involved with top Kabuki performer and "Sea Without Exit" (Deguchi no Nai Umi) star Ichikawa Ebizo. The pair had been snapped around town by paparazzi, and decided to come clean to avoid further personal intrusions by the media. Ichikawa has a reputation as a bit of a womanizer and was even outed a few years ago as having secretly fathered an illegitimate child, but up until recently he had long been linked to another model-turned-thesp, Yonekura Ryoko. (source: Oricon)