Which movies are finally making their way to the cinemas of Japan this October?
Here is Tokyo-based film writer Christopher O’Keeffe’s monthly rundown.
Now that summer is out of the way, and the big-budget blockbuster studio movies that come with it, there’s space in the schedules for some more eclectic cinema fare. This Halloween month is a real mixed bag of film treats, with everything from 80s throw-back action coming from Sly Stallone and his Expendables to gritty realism from actor-turned-director Paddy Considine; there’s even the return of a Japanese master.
Outrage Beyond (Japan release October 6)
‘Beat’ Takeshi Kitano fans will have been looking forward to Outrage Beyond, the imaginitively titled sequel to 2010’s violent yakuza drama, Outrage. Fresh from competition at the Venice International Film Festival last month, the movie returns to the murky world of warring yakuza clans pretty much where the last film left off.
Within the Sanno crime family trouble is brewing as distrust and resentment grows and spreads throughout its members. When corrupt crime inspector Kataoka arranges the release from prison of Otomo, played by the director himself, who is thought to be dead by the current Sanno boss, the scene is set for all hell to break loose in true ‘Beat’ fashion.
This might not be up there with the director’s best but Takeshi has a knack for telling Yakuza stories well and this will be a must see for many. Keep your eyes glued to the screen, there are some complications to the plot which demand concentration and are well worth following. If you see one Japanese movie at the cinema this month, it’s a fair bet Outrage Beyond will be it and you probably won’t have made a mistake.
The Expendables 2 (Japan release October 20)
The Expendables was co-written and directed by Sylvester Stallone as a kind of tribute to the gun-toting, fist-pumping action films of the 80s and 90s, with the biggest stars of the day getting back together for another adventure and it was a commercial success, with audiences enjoying seeing their favorite Hollywood tough guys back on the screen doing what they do best.
This time the cast (pictured at the top) is even bigger, with new stars including Jean-Claude Van Damme and Chuck Norris, and there is a beefed up role for former Governor of California Arnold Scharzenegger. Along with returning cast members Stallone, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren and Jet Li, it really seems like every Hollywood hard man has been thrown into the picture.
The film has actually been better received than its predecessor with audiences appreciating the blend of action and humor. If your idea of unashamed fun at the cinema is seeing a motorbike hurled at a helicopter, if you enjoy action movie cliches for what they are and feel up to the challenge of keeping tabs on a savage body count, then this could just about be the film for you.
The Raid (Japan release October 27)
If other movies featured this month are throwbacks to the action movies of the past, The Raid could well be a glimpse of the genre’s future. This Indonesian film, directed by Welsh born Gareth Evans, has wowed audiences and garnered positive critical reviews in a genre not typically favoured by the mainstream press.
The story follows rookie officer Rama, played by Iko Uwais, a member of a SWAT team which enters a notoriously dangerous apartment building in the Jakarta slums to take out the crime lord who runs the building.
Praised for its intense, non-stop action and frenetic fight scenes, displaying the Indonesian martial art pencak silak, the film is one of this years biggest surprise hits.
Tyrannosaur (Japan release October 20)
This is the first full length feature film from actor turned director Paddy Considine. Adapted from an award winning short film, Dog Altogether, Considine’s film, like his best performances, follows a troubled man prone to fits of violence and rage. After a particularly brutal outburst the man, Joseph, develops a relationship with local charity shop worker and devout Christian, Hannah.
Through their friendship Joseph begins to turn his life around, until a dark secret of Hannah’s threatens to throw him back into his old ways. Set and filmed in and around Considine’s hometown in the midlands of England, this film has already seen award success and praise for leading actors Peter Mullan and Olivia Colman.
Dangerous Method (Japan release October 27)
Former ‘Baron of Blood’, horror auteur David Cronenburg, has turned away from the genre in which he made his name in recent years. Here he makes his most radical departure to date, with a historical drama based on the relationship between Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud. Viggo Mortensen, in his third collaboration with the director, plays Freud and Michael Fassbender, who recently impressed in Prometheus, stars as Jung. Keira Knightly also appears as troubled patient Sabina Spielrein.
The woman begins the film under the care of Jung (both are pictured, left) as the doctor attempts to uncover the cause of her problems using Freud’s methods of psychoanalysis before Freud has fully gone public with his ‘findings’.
The film takes a look at the intense and changing relationships of the three principle characters over time and even manages to impart a rather subtle layer of black comedy into proceedings. Well received upon release in Europe and the US a few months back, this film delves deep in to the true story of soul searching and repressed desires between some of the greatest minds of their time.
The Woman (Japan release October 20)
October wouldn’t be complete without a horror film – Halloween is not too far away after all – but there’s only one real entry in the schedules worth talking about this time round. The Woman is a brutally violent and controversial film about a feral female captured in the woods and brought into the suburban home of a successful lawyer’s family, under the pretense of domesticating her.
The content is strong and elements of satire make for an interesting premise, elevating it above other gratuitously violent movies of recent years. The film was co-written and directed by cult horror film maker Lucky McKee and stars Sean Bridges, who you may remember as the sinister Father in the excellent Deadwood TV series.
Looking for more movie news and reviews? Keep an eye on Weekender for all the latest from the upcoming Tokyo International Film Festival.