Kakushi ken oni no tsume (2004) - News Poster


The Best Japanese Films of the 21st Century — IndieWire Critics Survey

Every week, IndieWire asks a select handful of film critics two questions and publishes the results on Monday (The answer to the second, “What is the best film in theaters right now?”, can be found at the end of this post).

This past weekend saw the release of Wes Anderson’s “Isle of Dogs,” a movie that was inspired by classic Japanese cinema (even if some feel that it may ultimately have been more informed by its director’s personal worldview).

The film is littered with references to revered old masters like Akira Kurosawa, Seijun Suzuki, etc., but movie-lovers the world over may be much less familiar with the more recent history of Japanese cinema.

This week’s question: What is the best Japanese film of the 21st century?

Joshua Rothkopf (@joshrothkopf), Time Out New York

The life-long, nourishing adventure of making one’s way through Ozu, Mizoguchi, Imamura and
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Marvel Releasing Dark Horse Star Wars Volumes

Marvel has announced that they will be reprinting some of Dark Horse’s Star Wars comics which will arrive in stores before the company begins churning out their own all-new Star Wars titles beginning in early 2015.

Revealed via StarWars.com yesterday, the first collection to be released will be titled Star Wars Legends Epic Collection: The Empire Vol. 1 and will include material written by John Ostrander, Randy Stradley, Haden Blackman, and Alexander Freed and artwork by Luke Ross, Douglas Wheatley, Jim Hall, Chris Scalf, Marco Castiello, Andrea Chella and Rick Leonardi.

The complete list of titles in the first volume, all of which take place after the events of Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, include “Star Wars: Republic” #78-#80, “Star Wars: Purge” #1, “Star Wars: Purge – Seconds to Die” #1, “Star Wars: Purge – The Hidden Blade” #1, “Star Wars: Purge – The Tyrant’s Fist
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Marvel continues Star Wars comic reprints with Epic Collection

Marvel continues Star Wars comic reprints with Epic Collection
Marvel Comics has announced further Star Wars reprints with its Epic Collection.

The publisher will release Star Wars Legends Epic Collection: The Empire Vol 1 next year, featuring material original published by Dark Horse Comics.

Set between Episodes III and IV, the comics focus on the rise of the Empire and Darth Vader.

The collection will include Star Wars: Republic #78-#80, Star Wars: Purge #1, Star Wars: Purge - Seconds to Die #1, Star Wars: Purge - The Hidden Blade #1, Star Wars: Purge - The Tyrant's Fist #1-#2, Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Lost Command #1-#5, and Star Wars: Dark Times #1-#5.

These feature work by writers John Ostrander, Randy Stradley, Haden Blackman and Alexander Freed, and artists Luke Ross, Douglas Wheatley, Jim Hall, Chris Scalf, Marco Castiello, Andrea Chella and Rick Leonardi.

The Star Wars licence passed from Dark Horse to Marvel following the
See full article at Digital Spy - Movie News »

Marvel announces Star Wars Legends: The Empire Vol.1

It was reported last month that Marvel Comics would be releasing reprints of the “Marvel Years” of their comics from a galaxy far, far away and today we have news of their plans to reprint some of Dark Horse’s comics in a series of “epic collections”. Find below the artwork and details of the first release, Star Wars Legends: The Empire Vol. 1.

Let the dark times begin! Marvel welcomes Star Wars to the Epic Collection program, with this first volume of a series focusing on the years that follow Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith! After the end of the Clone Wars, the Republic has fallen and Palpatine exerts his ruthless grip on his new Galactic Empire. Now, the few Jedi that remain must decide whether to hold true to their faith, or abandon it completely in the face of a brutal purge — one carried out
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Kino Lorber To Revive Tartan’s ‘Asia Extreme’ Collection (Exclusive)

Hong Kong – Specialty North American distributor Kino Lorber has picked up distribution rights to the Palisades Tartan library, which includes the iconic “Asian Extreme” movie collection.

Ownership of the 90-title collection remains with Palisades Tartan, giving Kino Lorber U.S. home entertainment rights including packaged media, digital and repertory theatrical rights. The deal also includes rights to some titles in Canada.

Company principal Richard Lorber said that Kino Lorber will now take certain titles out on limited theatrical release. Others will be issued on Blu-Ray (under the Palisades Tartan label) for the first time in North America.

While some of the titles have previously been represented by Vivendi and eOne, these deals have now expired. Kino Lorber plans new digital releases since many of the titles have not been widely available on the most current new media and digital platforms.

The Asia Extreme label was assembled and pioneered by the U.
See full article at Variety - Film News »

Berlin Film Review: ‘The Little House’

Berlin Film Review: ‘The Little House’
Adapting but not enlivening Kyoko Nakajima’s novel, Nipponese journeyman Yoji Yamada cranks out his umpteenth bourgeois family drama with “The Little House,” driven by an adulterous affair so discreet and passionless, it makes the characters and their wartime setting feel stuffier than they should. Observing civilian life while the nation was at war from 1936-1945, the film’s re-creation of the early Showa period yields more elegant aesthetics than the 82-year-old helmer’s vapid contempo remakes like “About My Brother” or “Tokyo Family,” but it’s still a long sit at 136 minutes. Coming in third at the domestic B.O. upon release, this nostalgia vehicle is suited only to Japan’s older audiences and Taiwan’s Nipponese culture buffs.

At the funeral of his great-aunt, Taki Nunomiya (Chieko Baisho), Takeshi (Satoshi Tsumabuki) reminisces about the old spinster, who, at his prompting, wrote memoirs of her early life as a
See full article at Variety - Film News »

The Live-Action Rurouni Kenshin Sequel Adds 6

Tons of new casting additions were revealed today for the two sequels to 2012's Rurouni Kenshin. As the two sequel films will deal with the Oniwabanshū, most of the announced roles are for the undercover agents of the Tokugawa era. Min Tanaka (The Twilight Samurai) will portray Okina. Musician Kazufumi Miyazawa will play Toshimichi Ōkubo. Yukiyoshi Ozawa (The Hidden Blade) will portray Hirobumi Itō. Kaito Ōyagi will replace Taketo Tanaka as Yahiko Myōjin in the sequels. Japanese model Maryjun Takahashi will portray the femme-fatale and Shishio love interest, Yumi Komagata. Ryōsuke Miura(Kamen Rider Ooo) will portray Sawagejō Chō. Filming on the two sequels, which will both be released next summer, is already underway. Previously, it was announced that Tatsuya Fujiwara (Light Yagami in Death Note) would portray Kenshin's chief rival, Shishio Makoto. Ryunosuke Kamiki (Big Man Japan, Summer Wars) will play
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Press Conference: A Woman And War Director And Cast Talk About Their Controversial War Crimes Movie

A Woman and War (Senso No Hitori No Onna), the debut film from director Junichi Inoue is a bold political statement. As I noted in my review, it criticises the crimes Japan committed overseas during the second world war by following the lives of three damaged people in a struggling Tokyo during the final stages of the war. Noriko Eguchi, who has worked on many independent feature films and is a regular on Japanese television screens, plays a former prostitute who is unable to experience pleasure while making love. Masatoshi Nagase has been acting for 30 years and has worked with Jim Jarmusch on Mystery Train and with director Yoji Yamada on My Sons and The Hidden Blade. Here he plays a disenchanted writer sure...

[Read the whole post on twitchfilm.com...]
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"The Hidden Blade" Promises Samurai Action But Delivers Drama and Romance

Depending on how you look at it, The Hidden Blade, the 2004 samurai film by Director Yoji Yamada, is either very misleading or very metaphoric in its title. The slow-paced film doesn’t have many instances of samurai exchanging blows or preserving their honor, rather it takes a deeper look into the more everyday occurrences of a samurai’s life at the turn of an era when the firearms of the west were supplanting the traditional role of the samurai in battle. At its center is the peaceful and reserved Munezo Katagiri (Masatoshi Nagase), a samurai renowned for his swordsmanship despite never having used it in true battle. While a conflict does eventually arise and give cause for the use of “the hidden blade”, it’s comes along only in the last quarter of the film after 90-minutes of character building. If that sounds unusual for a samurai film, maybe that
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DVD Playhouse--July 2012

By Allen Gardner

The Samurai Trilogy (Criterion) Director Hiroshi Inagaki’s sprawling epic filmed from 1954-56 is an early Japanese Technicolor masterpiece, rivaling the scope of filmmakers like David Lean and Luchino Visconti. Toshiro Mifune, Japan’s greatest actor, stars as real-life swordsman, artist and writer Musashi Miyamoto, following his growth from callow youth to disciplined warrior. The three films: the Oscar winning “Musashi Miyamoto,” “Duel at Ichijoji Temple,” and “Duel at Ganryu Island” are an incredible story of human growth, tender love and sublime, blood-soaked action. Not to be missed. Also available on Blu-ray disc. Bonuses: Interviews with translator and historian William Scott Wilson; Trailers. Full screen. Dolby 1.0 mono.

The 39 Steps (Criterion) Alfred Hitchcock’s 1935 story of spies, conspiracies and sexual tension put him on the map on both sides of the Pond. Robert Donat stars as an innocent thrust into a deadly plot alongside a cool blonde (Madeleine Carroll
See full article at The Hollywood Interview »

Preview: The Revolution At the Heart of 'Assassin's Creed III'

It's been a few weeks since Ubisoft's full reveal of Assassin's Creed III, its Revolutionary War setting, and most importantly, its new lead, Ratohnhaké:ton, or Connor, a joins the ancient conflict between the Assassins and the Templars for the full extent of the conflict. Ubisoft has set an interesting challenge for itself with its new setting, moving the the action away from the urban bustle of the earlier games in the series to the frontier. Yes, Aciii will still have cities, but 1753 New York has nothing on Jerusalem or 15th century Florence.

But if what myself and other journalists saw at a presentation earlier this month is anything to go by, the team behind Assassin's Creed III is looking to make life outside of the early American cities just as dangerous as within.

The long road to the Revolution

At the top of the presentation, Assassin Creed III's Creative Director,
See full article at MTV Multiplayer »

SyFY Announces The Mercury Men Digital Series

SyFy has just announced that a new sci-fi web series called The Mercury Men is coming soon to Syfy.com, which is inspired by the same retro serials that gave us Star Wars and Indiana Jones.

Read the official announcement from SyFy:

Marking Major Expansion Of Original Digital Content Following The Success Of Riese: Kingdom Falling, Syfy.Com Announces New Sci-fi Web Series The Mercury Men Debuts In Early 2011

Riese: Kingdom Falling Delivers More Than One Million Streams In Just Two Months

New York - January 21, 2011 - Following the enormous success of the seriesRiese: Kingdom Falling - which generated 1.2 million streams in only two months - Syfy.com will expand its original digital content slate with the 10-part The Mercury Men, it was announced today by Craig Engler, Senior Vice President/General Manager, Syfy Digital.

Created by acclaimed director Christopher Preksta (Captain Blasto), The Mercury Men(each episode
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Titan unveils 'Star Wars Galaxy' comic

Titan unveils 'Star Wars Galaxy' comic
Titan Comics has announced a four-weekly miniseries set in the Star Wars universe. Slated to arrive later this month, Star Wars Galaxy comprises three short stories that take place at various junctures across the saga's timeline. Issue #1 explores Darth Vader's character in 'Purge: The Hidden Blade', and sees Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Leia Organa Solo fight off a deadly new enemy in 'Invasion'. The third and final (more)
See full article at Digital Spy - Movie News »

Japan Cuts 2010: About Her Brother Review

[Our thanks to Chris Bourne for this review]

Yoji Yamada's About Her Brother is his first contemporary drama in a decade, following his samurai trilogy (The Twilight Samurai, The Hidden Blade, Love and Honor) and his previous film, the WWII reminiscence Kabei: Our Mother. However, despite its modern setting, his latest film has the same feel as Kon Ichikawa's 1960 classic Ototo (Her Brother); Yamada uses the same basic story for his film, which he dedicates to Ichikawa.

As in the earlier version, About Her Brother focuses on the relationship between Ginko (Sayuri Yoshinaga), a long-time widow and pharmacy owner who has never remarried, and her incorrigible younger brother Tetsuro (Tsurube Shofukutei), who causes much embarrassment with his casual approach to personal responsibility and his penchant for drinking and gambling. Ginko has put up with Tetsuro's antics ever since they were children, but Tetsuro severely tests the limits of her patience when he drunkenly wrecks the wedding reception
See full article at Screen Anarchy »

House Of Five Leaves review

House of Five Leaves was snapped up for Us distribution and online streaming by Funimation before it even began airing in Japan, as part of their deal to acquire selected titles in Fuji TV's Noitamina programming. The latest production by Manglobe, the studio behind the smash hit genre mashup Samurai Champloo and the dystopian sci-fi parable Ergo Proxy, House of Five Leaves is the animated adaptation of the manga of the same name. Yet despite the studio's pedigree, this is no easy sell, and even with a fairly conventional premise and setting in some ways it's actually a riskier proposition than either of their recent successes.

The story basically stems from the interaction between two central characters. First is Akitsu, a hapless ronin down on his luck - shy, self-conscious and withdrawn to the point of being phobic, he struggles to find (let alone keep) employment as a bodyguard
See full article at Screen Anarchy »

'Star Wars: Purge - The Hidden Blade' Review

Dark Horse published "Star Wars: Purge" in 2005, a one-shot that picked up in the aftermath of Order 66, a.k.a. The Day The Jedi Died. The comic followed Darth Vader as he searched Coruscant for stray Jedi, hoping that one would lead him to his former master, Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Today brings the release of a second "Purge" one-shot, subtitled "The Hidden Blade." The story opens on a remote, newly conquered world. Emperor Palpatine has dispatched the Dark Lord of the Sith to oversee the production of At-at walkers as the Imperial garrison consolidates its strength in the face of continuing assaults from the planet's indigenous people.

When Vader picks up faint traces of a Jedi, he's faced with a choice: stay with the garrison to lead the defense or disobey the Emperor's command and head out to find the rogue Force-wielder.

"The Hidden Blade" is short and sweet. The story is a little predictable,
See full article at MTV Splash Page »

AniMania: Ichi Review

It’s 2010, and while there will be plenty of great anime in the coming weeks and months, AniMania is starting the new year with something a little different by taking a look at the live action sword drama, “Ichi”.

Ichi” is the latest in the long line of works to draw on the Zatoichi blind swordsman mythos, but with a twist. Ichi, the title character, is a beautiful swords-woman, who travels from village to village in search of the only man to ever show her kindness. Along the way, she meets Toma, who at first comes across as a hopeless bungler, dependent on Ichi to get him out of one sticky situation after another. But as time goes on, we learn that he is hiding a tragic past. There just might be more to this clumsy, would-be samurai than his humorous antics let on.

Live action is nothing new, of course.
See full article at WeAreMovieGeeks.com »

First Stills from Hana no Ato

Nippon Cinemas Kevin has found some (first?) just beautiful stills from Kenji Nakanishi’s Hana no Ato (After the Flowers). The film currently in post-production is based on a short story by Shuhei Fujisawa (The Twilight Samurai, The Hidden Blade, Love and Honor). Starring Keiko Kitagawa, Hana no Ato will open in Japanese theaters in Spring 2010.

Visit Nippon Cinema for the rest of the bunch…

[via @nipponcinema & AsianMediaWiki]
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Kitagawa Keiko get revenge in ‘Hana no Ato’

Japanese beauty Kitagawa Keiko takes the lead role in an adaptation of the short story by the late Shuhei Fujisawa. Does that name sound familiar? It should as we have talked about his works a few times around here. You might know some other films that have been adapted from his other works. You know, Yoji Yamada’s superb Samurai Trilogy: The Twilight Samurai, The Hidden Blade, and Love and Honor. Yes. That Samurai Trilogy. Needless to say I don’t think there will be any question about the quality of the source material. This adaptation will be directed by Kenji Nakanishi.

Kitagawa plays Ito, a skilled swordswoman who is the daughter of a warrior. Ito falls in love with another member of her clan (Shuntaro Miyao), but after he commits suicide due to a plot by the clan’s leader (Kamejiro Ichikawa), she takes up her sword to exact revenge.
See full article at Screen Anarchy »

Masatoshi Nagase Stars In Gelatin Silver, Love

Masatoshi Nagase is one of the great unsung heroes of Japanese film, a hugely reliable character actor with seemingly unerring taste in projects who - despite a huge body of work - remains largely unknown by name. Tell people that you’ve got a new movie starring Masatoshi Nagase and you’ll probably get mostly blank looks. Tell them you’ve got a new movie with the guy from Funuke Show Some Love You Losers, Sakuran, The Hidden Blade, and the Mike Hama films - in which he plays the titular detective - and then you’re on to something.

And now Nagase stars with Koji Yakusho in Gelatin Silver, Love, the much awaited debut feature from acclaimed still photographer Kazumi Kurigami. Nagase plays a photographer hired by Yakusho to follow a hired killer played by the beautiful Rie Miyazawa. I’ve been checking the website for this one a
See full article at Screen Anarchy »
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