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  1. Stand by Me Doraemon 2 (2020) (Blu-ray) (Hong Kong Version) Stand by Me Doraemon 2 (2020) (Blu-ray) (Hong Kong Version) Fujiko F. Fujio (Writer) | Yagi Ryuichi (Director) | Yamazaki Takashi (Director)
    For the past four decades, the Doraemon 2D animation franchise has seen Nobita, Doraemon and their friends go on exotic, otherworldly adventures. However, this lifelong Doraemon fan has always felt that those adventures strayed slightly too far from the canon established in the manga by Fujiko F. Fujio (a.k.a. Fujimoto Hiroshi and Abiko Motoo). Instead, I prefer the sitcom-like short story format that makes up the original manga and the long-running television series. The short stories almost always follow the same formula – Nobita gets into trouble, Doraemon introduces a magical futuristic gadget that can solve Nobita's problems, and then Nobita gets into even bigger trouble by exploiting... [read more]
  2. True Mothers (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Japan Version) True Mothers (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Japan Version) Nagasaku Hiromi | Iura Arata | Makita Aju | Asada Miyoko
    Since 2015's Sweet Bean (a.k.a. An), director Kawase Naomi has left behind the sparse storytelling style that marked much of her career for more narrative-driven works that spend more time on character development than fawning over natural scenery. The second adaptation of the novel by Tsujimura Mizuki, True Mothers is still thematically consistent with her previous meditations on motherhood, adoption and parental abandonment (Suzaku, Shara and several of her documentaries), but Kawase's emphasis on story over mood this time around may bring her a few new converts. Told non-linearly in three sections, True Mothers examines its issues through the perspectives of two women connected to a... [read more]
  3. Last Letter (2020) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Last Letter (2020) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Hirose Suzu (Actor) | Fukuyama Masaharu (Actor) | Matsu Takako (Actor) | Mori Nana (Actor)
    In 2017, Iwai Shunji achieved a decade-long dream with Last Letter, his first Chinese-language film. Despite being backed by Peter Chan as producer and superstar Zhou Xun as his lead, the dreamy romantic drama was largely met with indifference from Chinese filmgoers. Iwai brought the story back to Japan, publishing his Japanese-language novelization of the story and remaking the film in Japan with an even starrier cast. The new Last Letter is technically a remake, but it feels like the film that Iwai had meant to make all along. The 2020 version of Last Letter follows virtually the same story as the original film: After the untimely death of her older sister, Misaki, housewife Yuri (Matsu... [read more]
  4. One Night (2019) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) One Night (2019) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Tanaka Yuko (Actor) | Suzuki Ryohei (Actor) | Satoh Takeru (Actor) | Kuwabara Yuko (Writer)
    With films like Twisted Justice, Birds Without Names and The Blood of Wolves under his belt, director Shiraishi Kazuya has shown a talent in telling stories about the psychology of sinners and extreme justice. His latest film, One Night, doesn't stray from that interest. Adapted from a play by Kuwabara Yuko, the dark family drama shows how one mother's extreme act to protect her children ends up destroying their lives. Playing like a thematic continuation of his previous film Sea of Revival, about a gambling addict's desperate attempt to overcome his demons and restart his life in a countryside town, Shiraishi's latest is another gritty drama about difficult moral issues that is buoyed by a... [read more]
  5. Fukushima 50 (2020) (Blu-ray) (Hong Kong Version) Fukushima 50 (2020) (Blu-ray) (Hong Kong Version) Yoshioka Hidetaka (Actor) | Sato Koichi (Actor) | Watanabe Ken (Actor) | Yoshioka Riho (Actor)
    When the resulting tsunami from the catastrophic 2011 Tohoku earthquake caused a series of nuclear accidents at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, it was a team of workers who stayed behind and risked their lives to prevent a nuclear disaster. Though the number of workers at the site was much higher, the foreign media dubbed the team "Fukushima 50," referring to the 50 employees who remained on site after the rest of the plant was evacuated. There has been a number of documentaries about the fallout of the nuclear disaster, which is still not fully resolved even today, but Fukushima 50 is the first direct dramatic recreation of the immediate aftermath. An island nation vulnerable to... [read more]
  6. Tora-san, Wish You Were Here (Blu-ray) (Normal Edition) (English Subtitled)  (Japan Version) Tora-san, Wish You Were Here (Blu-ray) (Normal Edition) (English Subtitled) (Japan Version) Yoshioka Hidetaka | Atsumi Kiyoshi | Baisho Chieko | Maeda Gin
    In recent years, American film and television fans have seen reunions and reboots of beloved titles such as Full House, Will & Grace, Mary Poppins, Scooby Doo, 30 Rock and The Terminator. In Japan, television stations have also brought back old favorites with long-awaited new seasons of popular series like Kekkon Dekinai Otoko, Haken no Hinkaku, Hanzawa Naoki and even a newly cast season of Zettai Reido. Regardless of the quality of these reboots, media executives and producers still believe that nostalgia sells. With even Godzilla getting reboots in both Japan (Shin Godzilla) and the U.S. (as part of Warner Brother's new MonsterVerse), it's no surprise that 2019 would see the reunion of... [read more]
  7. Special Actors (2019) (Blu-ray) (Hong Kong Version) Special Actors (2019) (Blu-ray) (Hong Kong Version) Kitaura Ayu (Actor) | Ueda Shinichiro (Director, Writer)
    Put yourself in the shoes of director Ueda Shinichiro for a minute. Your low-budget zombie comedy One Cut of the Dead has just become the most profitable film in the history of Japanese cinema. The anticipation for your next film is sky-high. How will you meet those expectations? Should you take advantage of your newfound clout and make a film with a sizable budget? Believe it or not, Ueda chose not to go down that route just yet. After writing and co-directing low-budget caper Aesop's Game with two fellow indie directors, Ueda sticks to his roots for Special Actors, another low-budget comedy that he had committed to before the commercial success of One Cut of the Dead. Though it's missing... [read more]
  8. Dawn of the Felines (2017) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Dawn of the Felines (2017) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Maue Satsuki (Actor) | Michie (Actor) | Ibata Juri (Actor) | murata hideaki (Actor)
    Dawn of the Felines is another in the Roman Porno Reboot Project, five films commissioned by Nikkatsu to celebrate the 45th anniversary of its series of popular pornographic dramas from the 1970s and 1980s. The film was written and directed by Kazuya Shiraishi, known for the likes of Twisted Justice and The Devil's Path, and who has also worked as television director, joining perhaps better known project luminaries Isao Yukisada, Akihiko Shiota, Hideo Nakata and Sion Sono. The film is an ensemble piece revolving around the experiences of a trio of prostitutes working in Tokyo's seedy Ikebukuro district, a young homeless woman called Masako (voice actress Juri Ihata, in her first major role... [read more]
  9. Aroused by Gymnopedies (2016) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Aroused by Gymnopedies (2016) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Itao Itsuji | Yukisada Isao (Director) | Ashina Sumire | Okamura Izumi
    Named after a series of piano pieces composed by Erik Satie in the 1880s, Aroused by Gymnopedies is one of the five films commissioned by Nikkatsu as part of the Roman Porno Reboot Project, marking the 45th anniversary of the studio’s classic pinku films that were released back in the 1970s and 1980s. The film was directed by Isao Yukisada, best known for his 2004 melodrama Crying out Love, in the Center of the World, who also scripted along with Anne Horiizumi, writer of his 2014 work Five Minutes to Tomorrow. The film follows Itsuji Itao (also in Sion Sono's Why Don’t You Play in Hell? and Hirokazu Koreeda's Air Doll) as Shinji, a director in his 50s whose past glory as an arthouse... [read more]
  10. Tokyo Ghoul (2017) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Tokyo Ghoul (2017) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Kubota Masataka | Shimizu Fumika | Murai Kunio | Aida Shoko
    The latest Japanese big-screen live-action manga adaptation arrives in the shambling form of Tokyo Ghoul, based on the best-selling fantasy series by Ishida Sui. The film was directed by Hagiwara Kentaro, a marked departure from his 2016 feature debut, the drama Anniversary, and stars Kubota Masataka (familiar with manga after appearing in the Death Note TV drama) as a student who becomes half-human, half-ghoul after an attack. Set in a Tokyo where attacks by lurking hyper-ghouls are an accepted part of daily life, the film follows dweeb college student Kaneki Ken (Kubota Masataka), who thinks his luck is in when he manages to catch the eye of his dream girl Rize (Aoi Yu, recently in the... [read more]
  11. The Long Excuse (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Japan Version) The Long Excuse (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Japan Version) Nishikawa Miwa (Director) | Ikematsu Sosuke | Fukatsu Eri | Motoki Masahiro
    Acclaimed writer, director and novelist Miwa Nishikawa, known for the likes of Dreams for Sale and Dear Doctor, returns with The Long Excuse, based on her own book. The film won attention for featuring in the lead role actor Masahiro Motoki, widely praised for his role in Yojiro Takita's multiple-award winning international hit Departures. Like that film, The Long Excuse also deals with grief, though in a different way, following the experiences of two men trying to deal with loss after their wives die, and won a number of award nominations as well as playing a list of international festivals. Masahiro Motoki plays Sachio Kinugasa, an arrogant writer who has left his lowly roots behind and... [read more]
  12. Night's Tightrope (2016) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Night's Tightrope (2016) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Yamamoto Mizuki (Actor) | Honda Tsubasa (Actor) | Inagaki Goro (Actor) | Arata Mackenyu (Actor)
    The novels of Kanae Minato have inspired a number of big screen adaptations, including Confessions, A Chorus of Angels and The Snow White Murder Case, all dark tales dealing with themes of immorality and human weakness, painting bleak pictures of Japanese society. It shouldn't come as too much of a surprise then that Night's Tightrope, based on her second book Shojo, is a resolutely grim affair, following two high school girls as they come of age by experiencing the harshness of the adult world, becoming obsessed with death in the process. Opening with shocking scenes of bullying as girls chant for their victims to die, the film follows Mizuki Yamamoto (Sadako vs Kayako) as Atsuko, whose... [read more]
  13. An (2015) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong  Version) An (2015) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Nagase Masatoshi (Actor) | Kiki Kirin (Actor) | Asada Miyoko (Actor) | Uchida Kyara (Actor)
    Acclaimed Japanese director Kawase Naomi tries her hand at something a little different with An (also screened variously as Sweet Bean and Sweet Bean Red Paste), shifting from the arthouse abstractness of her Cannes-winning The Mourning Forest and last outing Still the Water, to life-affirming sentimentality. Adapted from a novel by Durian Sukegawa, the film is certainly the most accessible of Kawase's career so far, and was chosen as the opening film of the Un Certain Regard strand of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival before going on to play a long list of prestigious international events. Its title referring to the sweet bean red paste filling of dorayaki pancakes sold in a small shop run by... [read more]
  14. While The Women Are Sleeping (DVD) (Limited Edition) (English Subtitled) (Japan Version) While The Women Are Sleeping (DVD) (Limited Edition) (English Subtitled) (Japan Version) Wayne Wang (Director) | Kitano Takeshi | Kutsuna Shiori | Nishijima Hidetoshi
    Chinese-American director Wayne Wang has had a very interesting and varied career, from his award-winning 1982 indie breakthrough Chan is Missing through to Hollywood schlock like the Jennifer Lopez vehicle Maid in Manhattan and the big budget China – US coproduction Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. For his latest he takes on something different again in the form of Japanese psycho drama While the Women Are Sleeping, adapted from Spanish writer Javier Marias' short story of the same name. Having screened in the Panorama section of the 66th Berlin International Film Festival, the dark film has a top-drawer cast, headlined by Kitano Takeshi (Ryuzo and His Seven Henchmen), Kutsuna Shiori (125... [read more]
  15. A Bride for Rip Van Winkle (2016) (Blu-ray + DVD) (Special Director's Cut Edition) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) A Bride for Rip Van Winkle (2016) (Blu-ray + DVD) (Special Director's Cut Edition) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Iwai Shunji (Director, Writer) | Kuroki Haru (Actor) | Ayano Go (Actor) | Cocco (Actor)
    Japanese director Iwai Shunji has tried his hand at a variety of styles during his career, from features to documentaries and even animation, films like Love Letter, All about Lily Chou-Chou, Vampire and most recently The Case of Hana and Alice winning him acclaim as one of Japan’s most individual helmers. Adapted from his own novel, Iwai’s latest offering A Bride for Rip Van Winkle sees him returning to themes of loneliness, isolation and the struggle to form human connections in the modern age, starring Kuroki Haru (The Little House), Ayano Go (Shinjuku Swan) and singer Cocco (Kotoko). Kuroki Haru plays Nanami, a part-time teacher who loses her job due to being too quiet and meek with her... [read more]
  16. Bakuman (2015) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Bakuman (2015) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Satoh Takeru (Actor) | Kamiki Ryunosuke (Actor) | Komatsu Nana (Actor) | Sometani Shota (Actor)
    Bakuman is another Japanese live action manga adaptation, in this case one which actually takes place in the manga industry, following the fortunes of two high schoolers trying to win places on the staff of the top Weekly Shonen Jump publication. Based on the manga by Ohba Tsugumi and Obata Takeshi, creators of the incredibly popular Death Note series, the film reunites Rurouni Kenshin stars Sato Takeru and Kamiki Ryunosuke in the lead roles, and was directed by One Hitoshi (Love Strikes), boasting an impressive supporting cast including Komatsu Nana (The World of Kanako), Sometani Shota (Parasyte), Yamada Takayuki (Crows Zero), Kiritani Kenta (Outrage Beyond) and Lily Franky (Like Father,... [read more]
  17. The Emperor in August (Blu-ray + DVD) (Deluxe Edition) (English Subtitled) (Japan Version) The Emperor in August (Blu-ray + DVD) (Deluxe Edition) (English Subtitled) (Japan Version) Yakusho Koji | Motoki Masahiro | Harada Masato (Director) | Matsuzaka Tori
    Although Japan's unconditional surrender to the Allies in August 1945, as announced by Emperor Hirohito via a radio broadcast, is a well-known historic event, not so well-known is what happened in the days beforehand in which the decision was debated and contested by the country's politicians and military. Directed by Harada Masato (Chronicle of My Mother), The Emperor in August focuses on this short but crucial period of time, based upon Hando Kazutoshi's 1965 book Japan's Longest Day, which had previously been adapted for the screen in 1967 by Okamoto Kihachi. Very much a prestige production, while it didn't set the box office on fire, the film pulled in a long list of nominations and... [read more]
  18. A Courtesan with Flowered Skin (2014) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) A Courtesan with Flowered Skin (2014) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Adachi Yumi (Actor) | Koshino Ena (Actor) | Fuchikami Yasushi (Actor) | Miyagi Ayako (Actor)
    Directed by Toyoshima Keisuke (Moriyamachu Driving School) and based on the award-winning 2006 novel Hanayoidochu by Miyagi Ayako, A Courtesan with Flowered Skin is a Japanese historical drama focusing on the rough life experiences of an oiran entertainer. In the challenging lead role the film stars actress and former singer Adachi Yumi (also in Kiyoshi Kurosawa's 2005 Loft), with support from Fuchikami Yasushi (Platinum Data), Koshino Ena (Chigasaki Story) and (Takaoka Saki, Lesson of Evil). Set in the Edo period of Japan in the 1860s, the film takes place in the Yoshiawara pleasure district, where Asagiri (Adachi Yumi) works as an oiran, a higher-class entertainer position than the other... [read more]
  19. Parasyte Part 2 (2015) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Parasyte Part 2 (2015) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Sometani Shota (Actor) | Fukatsu Eri (Actor) | Abe Sadao (Actor) | Hashimoto Ai (Actor)
    Director Yamazaki Takashi (The Eternal Zero) returns with Parasyte Part 2, following hot on the heels of the first chapter of the big screen blockbuster adaptation of Iwaki Hitoshi's popular manga. Shot back to back, the second instalment sees all the (surviving) cast members on hand again for more of the same, with the flesh-eating alien invaders pressing on with their plan to conquer the human race, resulting in more gore, special effects and bouts of ponderous philosophising. The film picks up immediately where its predecessor left off, with high school student Shinichi (Sometani Shota, Tokyo Tribe) and Migi, the alien parasite living in his hand (voiced by Sadao Abe) continuing in their... [read more]
  20. Undulant Fever (2014) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Undulant Fever (2014) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Ichikawa Yui (Actor) | Ikematsu Sosuke (Actor) | Nakamura Kumi (Actor) | Miura Masaki (Actor)
    Ando Hiroshi, one of the latest Japanese directors to make the jump from softcore pink cinema to the mainstream, doesn't stray too far from his former path with Undulant Fever, a drama focusing on sexual obsession and strained intimacy. Headlined by former swimwear model turned actress Ichikawa Yui (Tokyo Tribe) in the challenging lead role, the film was adapted from Nakazawa Kei's award-winning first novel Umi wo Kanjiru Toki (I Sense the Sea), written when she was just eighteen years old. Ichikawa Yui plays Emiko, a high school student in the newspaper club and with a bright future ahead of her, who meets and falls for the older Hiroshi (Ikematsu Sosuke, Love's Whirlpool). Although he... [read more]
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