It is wonderful to see the Japanese Film Festival expanding to more venues than ever before. It is a great film festival and cinema lovers in Australia and New Zealand would no doubt cherish the opportunities to experience some wonderful Japanese films.
The national program that was announced yesterday certainly has a healthy balance of films from different genres, and the following are my picks:
The Opening Film, Lady Maiko, marks director Masayuki Suo’s welcome return to comedy and is loosely based on Audrey Hepburn’s My Fair Lady. Suo’s more recent films like I Just Didn’t Do It and The Terminal Trust are very serious and really no laughing matter. However, his best films, Sumo Do, Sumo Don’t and Shall We Dance?, are both dramas with strong comedy elements. So I would love to see another Suo comedy and have really high hopes for this film. (Do keep an eye out for a blog post about the director in the coming days.)
Wood Job! is from director Shinobu Yaguchi, the man responsible for comedies such as Waterboys, Swing Girls and Happy Flight. So I think we can safely expect another lighthearted, heart-warming comedy that’s destined to be one of the crowd favorites at this year’s JFF.
Short Peace is a collection of four anime short films from some of Japan’s most talented anime creators, including Katsuhiro Otomo (Akira) who led the project. Otomo makes very few films and it would be great to be able to see his latest work. The trailers are visually stunning and I think this will look amazing on the big screen.
Rurouni Kenshin Trilogy
The previously announced Rurouni Kenshin trilogy is a must-see for action fans. Based on the immensely popular manga and anime series, the first Rurouni Kenshin features some incredible sword fights and spectacular action sequences. The sequels Rurouni Kenshin – Kyoto Inferno and Rurouni Kenshin – The Legend Ends look to offer even more. Kyoto Inferno, which is currently still in cinemas in Japan, is this year’s no. 2 box office hit so far. I am predicting that the Kenshin trilogy will be the first films to sell out at this year’s JFF in both Sydney and Melbourne. So hurry and buy yourself some tickets when you can.