Sunday, July 15, 2018

The Unseen Films Obligatory Japan Cuts Curtain Raiser and List of Recommended Films

One of the coolest festivals of the year starts Thursday- The Japan Society’s Japan Cuts. This annual orgy of cinematic goodness plumbs the depths of Japanese cinema to reveal all sorts of goodies. I know that isn’t the most sophisticated way of saying things but Japan Cuts is too cool not to get a little emotional.

While most people in New York got to know Japan Cuts due to the co-presentations and overlap with the New York Asian Film Festival, this year the programmers have ended the overlap and for the first time in a long time it will stand on its own- and we are so much better for it. Having seen most of the films I can honestly say that the ability to see all the films without having to choose ones at a rival fest will allow more people see some truly fantastic films.

This year it looks as though we will be covering every film other than BLEACH because it sold out. And while there is an added screening at 11pm- I can’t cover it without springing from a hotel room in Manhattan.

While I have liked to some degree or other everything I’ve seen- there are some I loved and those are listed below. While films like MORI and BLANK 13 are sold out you may be able to score tickets on the cancelation line

Regardless go to the Japan cuts website and buy ticket (info and tickets here)

And now the films getting the Unseen Films seal of approval:

Blank 13
Is it comedy drama or dramatic comedy? Deeply moving film about the sons of a confirmed gambler who ran out on them 15 years earlier dealing with his return to their life while on his death bed. A magnificent exploration of how we see those we love, hate or deal with in our lives. A stunning achievement and my vote for the best film at this year’s Japan Cuts

Violence Voyager
Unless you’ve seen the earlier Burning Buddha Man you’ve not seen anything like this disturbing face punch about a secret amusement park where visitors must fight mutant monsters or risk being turned into one themselves. Not for most audiences but this manga/anime hybrid will thrill a select audience.

Born Bone Born
Based on a short film by the director this film follows a pregnant woman was she returns home to help wash the bones of her mother. Odd quirky and accasionally moving, it has a deeply moving an unexpected ending which includes what maybe one of my favorite final shots in any movie ever.

Mori:The Artist’s Habitat
Day in the life of a 94 year old artist who is endlessly fascinated by life in all its forms and who has no intention of leaving this world any time soon. Deeply moving, this is a film that will force you to re-engage with life and really see life. The more I think about it the more absolutely love it.

Outrage: Coda
Takeshi Kitano returns in the third film in the Outrage series. Probably the weakest of the three, it still has some great moments as the stupid move of a smart ass yakuza brings down Kitano’s wrath. While Kitano disappears for about half the film his presence hangs over everything. A delight for any Kitano fan.

Nobuhiko Obayashi’s 40 year struggle to adapt Kazuo Dan’s 1937 novella is done. The result is a one of a kind movie that only Obayashi could have made. Completely and totally a piece of cinema the story of a group of friends on the brink of the Second World War will delight and move you. A film like any other, it is a must see for any fan of film and what it can do.

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