Last year's Japanese Film Fest saw the Malaysian premiere of "Second Chance" starring Hiroki Hasegawa (middle-left) and Kyôka Suzuki (middle-right) who flew down especially for the event.
This September, the return of the Japanese Film Festival (JFF) at GSC cinemas will bring Japanese movie fans 12 exquisite movies that that depict the Japanese culture through different stories that are internationally critically acclaimed. Amongst all the carefully selected movies, "Key Of Life" is the most looked forward to amongst Malaysians as it will be released here ahead of its Japanese release which is only on 15 September. Here is the complete line-up of this year's movie offering that will run from 13-18 September in Klang Valley and 20-23 September in Penang.
A Good Husband
Director: Isao Yukisada
Cast: Etsushi Toyokawa, Hiroko Yakushimaru, Asami Mizukawa
Story: This soul searching piece examines the life of a couple in their forties, Shunsuke and Sakura who face boredom nearing their 10th year of marriage. When a young actress (Asami Mizukawa) comes into the picture, Shunsuke has plans to have an affair with her but his intentions get thwarted when his wife shows up. Sakura then makes a startling confession that for the past year, she had been seeing someone.
Always: Sunset On Third Street 3
Director: Takashi Yamazaki
Cast: Koyuki, Hidetaka Yoshioka, Shinichi Tsutsumi, Hiroko Yakushimaru
Story: Set in Tokyo in the year 1964, the city is abuzz with the upcoming Olympic games as we meet characters with various backgrounds. Novelist Ryunosuke is now married to Hiromi and they live with Junnosuke who is now in high school. Auto mechanic Norifumi Suzuki stills run his mechanic shop across the street with his wife Tomoe, son Ippei and employee Mutsuko.
Director: Yukihiko Tsutsumi
Cast: Yuko Takeuchi, Toshiyuki Nishida, Masahiro Takashima
Story: Based on a real-life event, this movie captures how the Hayabusa satellite that was sent to collect soil samples from a distant asteroid 7 years ago finally returned to Earth in June 2010. we follow the journey through Megumi (Yuko Takeuchi) the dorky staff of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) who carries out the mission with her team. Think of a fantasy like "Apollo 13" case but without the life-or-death dilemma.
Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda
Cast: Kohki Maeda, Oushiro Maeda, Joe Odagiri, Nene Ootsuka
Story: Currently holding a 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes site, "I Wish" stars real life brothers Kohki Maeda and Oshiro Maeda. This story of two young brothers living across different cities is a heart-warming tale as they dream of reuniting with each other. When a new bullet train linking across their cities is set to be opened, Koichi looks at it as a sign and sets out to mend the dilapidated family bonds despite the distance.
Key Of Life
Genre: Suspense Comedy
Director: Kenji Uchida
Cast: Masato Sakai, Teruyuki Kagawa, Ryoko Hirosue
Story: A case of mistaken identity is taken to a whole new level when this bleak but deep movie follows a frustrated aspiring actor Sakurai, who wants to kill himself. Before he goes through with his plans however, he heads to a public bathhouse where he finds a man with memory loss. Taking it as another shot at life, Sakurai switches his locker keys with the man and unwilling finds himself face-to-face with the Yakuza.
Director: Takashi Miike
Cast: Seishiro Kato, Roi Hayashi, Futa Kimura
Story: Not like the American "3 Ninjas" franchise, this close to home story follows 3 little ninjas, Rantaro, Shinbe and Kirimaru who enroll at the Ninja Academy. Although the trio have fun at school, they struggle with their studies. One day when a killer appears in one of their friend's father's house, the little bandits at the Ninja Academy go on a rescue mission.
Director: Daihachi Yoshida
Cast: Miho Kanno, Yosuke Eguchi, Eiko Koike, Mari Natsuki
Story: In Permanent Nobara, a beauty salon in a small village by the sea, brings the women of the town together whom talk about their love lives and troubles ranging from cheating husbands, finding love and soul searching.
Director: Izuru Narushima
Cast: Mao Inoue, Hiromi Nagasaku, Eiko Koike, Yoko Morishita
Story: Based on a novel by Mitsuyo Kakuta, this 11 awards winning film is truly a tearjerker that's worthy for a watch. When a woman kidnaps a baby girl and raises it as her own, she finally gets caught on her fourth year of hiding a secret and the girl is returned to her birth parents, setting off a motion of bleak sadness encompassing years until the little girl grows up to be a woman and discovers a shocking truth.
Director: Junji Sakamoto
Cast: Yoshio Harada, Michiyo Okusu, Ittoku Kishibe, Takako Matsu
Story: In a peaceful village by the mountains see its residence delve in acting in Kabuki performances but soon trouble starts to brew as tears, laughter and rage come in their way to make the show a success. This story about a small community trying to outdo each other is not for everyone, but rather those who prefer a simple story surrounding a group of people along with the artful Kabuki performances.
The Last Ronin
Director: Shigemichi Sugita
Cast: Koji Yakusho, Koichi Sato, Nanami Sakuraba, Nizaemon Kataoka
Story: Set 16 years after the "revenge of the Forty-seven Ronin", the sole survivor of the ghastly event, Kichiemon travels across the country for a mission to spread the truth to the families of the fallen. The movie is adapted from a true story that happened in the early 18th century and is Warner Bros' first ever Japanese film.
Director: Koji Hagiuda
Cast: Riko Narumi, Kenichi Matsuyama, Satomi Tezuka
Story: A 13-year-old child possesses the talent to read sheet music but then develops a hatred for her gift after her piano virtuoso father mysteriously disappears from her life. To manage their lives, the girl and her mother move to a humble neighbourhood to make ends meet, and it is there where the girl meets a grocer's son who happens to be a budding musician.
Death Of A Japanese Salesman
Director: Mami Sunada
Cast: Tomoaki Sunada
Story: Tomoaki Sunada used to be a workaholic, but now since his career is over, it is time to turn his thoughts to his family, especially now after he's diagnosed with terminal cancer. The documentary follows the man planning his final days; including his visit to a priest, a funeral procession and a bucket list. His daughter Mami captures the whole event and uses her father's thoughts in a diary as some of the narration aspects in this heartbreaking tale that depicts a person's real end of life captured on screen.
Cinema Online, 28 August 2012