Japan’s October movie releases: a mixed bag of tricks and treats

Movies & TV - October 1st, 2013
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The end of blockbuster season brings in a wide variety of big screen releases, including the globetrotting crime caper Now You See Me, undead cop buddy flick R.I.P.D., and The Stone Roses: Made in Stone.


by Christopher O’Keeffe | Above image: Jeff Bridges, Isabelle Huppert, and Kris Kristofferson in Heaven’s Gate


Heaven’s Gate—out Oct 5

After winning five Academy Awards in 1978 with his Vietnam War classic The Deer Hunter, Michael Cimino chose to make a big budget Western as his second feature. Heaven’s Gate is set in Wyoming during the 1890s, and tells the story of a group of European immigrants whose lives are put on the line when a group of wealthy cattle barons draw up a “kill list” to get rid of the troublesome settlers. Kris Kristofferson stars as James Averill, marshal of Johnson County, who attempts to protect the poor immigrants, including his lover, Isabelle Huppert’s bordello-running madam, Ella. Christopher Walken, who was unforgettable in The Deer Hunter, returns here as a gun-toting enforcer and rival for Ella’s love. Released in 1980, Heaven’s Gate notoriously sank at the box office, becoming one of the most expensive failures of all time, mostly as a result of bad press from film critics. The movie has since been reappraised and stands as a testament to great 70s American cinema. This new digitally remastered director’s cut is beautiful to behold and worthy of its nearly four-hour running time.

Now You See Me—out Oct 25

With its star-studded cast and flashy New Orleans/Las Vegas/New York setting, Now You See Me comes across more than a little bit like that Vegas team-up comedy, Ocean’s Eleven. In this tricky crime caper Jesse Eisenberg leads Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher and Dave Franco as a group of illusionists known as “The Four Horsemen” who pull off incredible bank robberies as a part of their live performances and then distribute the money amongst the audience. The group attracts the attention of FBI agent Mark Ruffalo and an interpol agent played by Inglorious Basterds‘ Mélanie Laurent. Screen legends Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman are in on the action in this slick production.

Now You See Me

Mark Ruffalo in Now You See Me

R.I.P.D.—out Oct 18

R.I.P.D. is a supernatural comedy with more than touch of Men in Black about it. Young cop Ryan Reynolds unfortunately meets an untimely end in the line of duty, but on his way to the afterlife he’s pulled into the office of Mildred Proctor, commanding officer of the R.I.P.D., or Rest in Peace Department as it’s otherwise known. R.I.P.D. is assigned to patrol the afterlife, preventing the return of spirits who have failed to cross over and return to earth to cause trouble. In charge of the new recruit is old-timer Jeff Bridges, a pistol-toting former US Marshal. As the two learn to get along, they uncover a plot that could see the earth overtaken by murderous spirits. Mary Elisabeth Parker plays Proctor and Kevin Bacon appears as Reynold’s corrupt former partner. Let’s hope it’s closer to Men in Black than Wild Wild West.

R.I.P.D.

Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds in R.I.P.D.

Red Dawn—out Oct 5

If you’re in the mood for something that’s not too taxing on the grey matter, check out implausible action effort Red Dawn. Based on a 1984 film of the same name in which Patrick Swayze leads a group of his high school friends in guerrilla warfare against Soviet and Cuban soldiers who have invaded small town America. The cold war premise has now been updated, with the threat to American soil changing from the communists of the Soviet Union to those of North Korea. This was actually changed from China in post-production as Hollywood continues to court the Chinese dollar. The film stars the Avengers’ own Thunder God, Chris Hemsworth, who will be returning to that role in sequel Thor: The Dark World, to be released later this year.

The Stone Roses: Made of Stone—out Oct 18

Seminal British band The Stone Roses reformed last year after breaking up back in 1996 amidst animosity and infighting. After the comeback that no one thought possible, the band managed a triumphant return which included a set headlining Japan’s own Fuji Rock Festival last summer. The quintessential Manchester band that came to inspire just about every young British indie band that followed them also found a fan in a young man with aspirations of filmmaking, Shane Meadows. Meadows, the acclaimed director of This is England and Dead Man’s Shoes, is one of the brightest stars in British cinema today. The Stone Roses: Made of Stone is the director’s first feature length documentary and it charts the band’s revival through early jam sessions, a dramatic tour in Europe—when the whole thing looked set to fall apart again—to a triumphant return at London’s Heaton Park. The documentary doesn’t attempt a cheap celebrity exposé of the band, but it offers a fan’s view of his heroes making good.

R100—out Oct 5

Hitoshi Matsumoto has been hugely popular in Japan for the past couple of decades as one half of the hugely successful comedy duo “Downtown.” In recent years Matsumoto has been carving out a name for himself as a director beginning with his debut Big Man Japan, a mockumentary that follows a down-on-his-luck government worker who grows to enormous size in order to battle a variety of strange monsters, it’s darkly comic and well worth worth a look. R100 will be the comedian/director’s fourth feature film and follows in a similar vein to his previous work. The title refers to the Japanese film classification system, which caps at R18 (“for ages 18 and above”). This should give you a clue about the movie’s theme. Nao Ohmori stars as Kuruyama, a typically mild-mannered family man who joins a mysterious S&M club with a very important rule: the contract lasts a year and cannot be broken. Kuruyama finds the club’s dominatrices invading his daily life and what was at first enjoyable could end up going too far.

R100

R100