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The last time Metropolis caught up with Ryohei Suzuki, he was a presenter for Fox Japan variety shows. Now he’s the lead in a Japanese film, generating a good deal of buzz with two other features in the pipeline. Tokyo Tribe, based on a manga by Santa Inoue, is set in a near future where riots in Shibuya have led to the formation of rival tribes (Check our review online). Suzuki and Hokkaido-born rapper Young Dais play former best friends who are set to square off when members of their tribes begin offing each other. “I was thrilled to work with director Shion Sono,” Suzuki says. “I pulled together all of the skills I’ve developed in order to make myself ‘Sono material’ from head to toe.” Since the tribes in the film battle it out with both violence and freestyle rap, Suzuki’s preparation was physical and verbal. “It was the first time for me to do sword fighting, so I was swinging a wooden sword around every day to prepare,” the actor recalls. “For the rap scenes, I shared ideas with some pros and worked with Young Dais. Every free minute on the set or in the car, I just kept my mouth moving.” Tokyo Tribe is now playing. http://tokyotribe-movie.com/ Kevin Mcgue

 

 

By: Kevin Mcgue | Sep 17, 2014 | No Comments | 0 views

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One of the towering figures of Japanese animation, Hideaki Anno, will be honored at this this fall’s Tokyo International Film Festival with a major retrospective. The timing is apt: this year marks the 30th anniversary of the start of Anno’s career. Back in 1984, Hayao Miyazaki was so desperate to get the film Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind finished on time, he put an ad in a magazine seeking additional animators. Anno was still in his early 20s and had been booted from Osaka University of Arts, ironically for spending too much time on an animation project. He sent in some drawings that caught Miyazaki’s eye. Today, Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki recalls that once the young man was given the important task of creating the God Warrior character for the film’s end, he never left the studio until the work was done, even sleeping under his desk. By the end of 1984, Anno had co-founded his own studio, Gainax. “That was three decades ago,” Suzuki says, “and now there is no one in Japan now who doesn’t know of him.” The main reason for that recognition is the Evangelion series, which has become a global export. But Anno has worked in a wide variety of fields. “The World of Hideaki Anno” will showcase over 50 live and animated features, TV episodes, commercials and more.

The Tokyo International Film Festival will run October 23-31.

By: Kevin Mcgue | Sep 8, 2014 | No Comments | 90 views

For many, Alan Rickman will always be the criminal mastermind in Die Hard, while younger moviegoers know him as Harry Potter’s professor. But the multi-talented Brit is also an accomplished stage actor who has recently returned to the director’s chair. A Little Chaos, which has been selected as the closing film for the Toronto International Film Festival, is Rickman’s first directorial effort in over 15 years, in which he also has a role. “I’ll play Louis XIV, the Sun King,” he said recently at the Giffoni Experience festival in Italy. Working on both sides of the camera, he directed Kate Winslet as a gardener whom Louis awards the coveted assignment of designing the gardens at the Palace of Versailles. Rickman was honored with a special award at the fest—not surprising considering kids from around the world serve as jurors and the actor appears in all eight Harry Potter films. Rickman told the young crowd the boy wizard has parallels to his own life. “My father died when I was 8 and I felt different from other children who had ‘normal’ family situations,” he said. “Luckily I attended a school where difference was a value and children were encouraged to study subjects very different from one another.” Will Rickman be focusing on directing now? “It took 18 months to finish [the film],” he said. “I’m not getting back behind the camera soon.” The Toronto International Film Festival will run Sep 4-14. Kevin Mcgue

 

By: Kevin Mcgue | Aug 29, 2014 | No Comments | 619 views

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Tokyo Disneyland and the success of Frozen prove that Japan is a key market for the House of Mouse, but there’s never been a Japanese hero in a Disney film. That will change with Big Hero 6, set in the futuristic city San Fransokyo. The animated adventure centers on teenage tech whiz Hiro Hamada, who builds a robot and leads a misfit team of crime fighters. Hiro is voiced by 18-year-old Ryan Potter, who was born in Oregon but spent his early childhood in Tokyo, where his mother was studying Japanese. Returning to the States, Potter picked up martial arts, which helped him land the lead on the Nickelodeon show Supah Ninjas. Despite a 60-year age difference, he bonded with co-star George Takei over a shared interest in all things Japanese. The older actor also instilled in Potter, who is half Japanese, a sense of responsibility in representing Asian Americans, which he took with him to his Disney role. Potter was a surprise guest at last month’s Comic-Con in San Diego but didn’t stick around for the clip he introduced, explaining he wants to wait until the whole film is finished. Big Hero 6 will have its worldwide premiere at the Tokyo International Film Festival, and if its young star attends, he can finally see it then.

The Tokyo International Film Festival will run October 23-31 at Roppongi Hills and other venues. http://2014.tiff-jp.net/en/

By: Kevin Mcgue | Aug 18, 2014 | No Comments | 579 views

“There have been a lot of Japanese zombie movies, but they have all been comedies or parodies,” director Norio Tsuruta tells Metropolis. “I wanted to make Japan’s first proper zombie film.” That’s a tall order, but Tsuruta was the right person for the job, having cut his teeth on the TV series Scary True Stories and installments of the Ring franchise. The result of his ambition is Z: Hate Naki Kibo, with “Z” being the term the authorities use for the undead in the film and the rest loosely translating as “undying hope.” The story starts with two high school girls discovering that Japan is being taken over by flesh-eaters. They team up with a teenage sword master and hole up in a hospital where a few people are determined to make the human race survive. The summer release of the film is no coincidence. “Japanese summer is so hot and humid, so people would listen to ghost stories to give themselves goosebumps and forget the heat,” Tsuruta says. “Another factor is obon, when spirits of ancestors are believed to return home. It isn’t celebrated so much today, but it is a century-old tradition, and Japanese people still associate summer with ghosts.”

Z: Hate Naki Kibo opens at Cinemart Roppongi and Cinemart Shinjuku July 26.

By: Kevin Mcgue | Jul 25, 2014 | No Comments | 992 views

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