Don't miss out on JFF 2013

Don't miss out on JFF 2013

With the Japanese Film Festival (JFF) 2013 just around the corner, it seemed like a good time to tell you why you should go and watch the nine movies that will make their debut in Malaysia during the festival. Of course, we are too nice to send you headlong into the Technicolor world of Japanese films without an inkling of what's what or who's who, so take a lot at our list to see if you can spot something that you like or just read on as that critical and dissatisfied movie fan and see if we can't sell some of these movies to you.

1. "Dearest" (Anata e)

"Dearest" tells the story of Eiji (Ken Takakura), a prison officer in Hokuriku whose wife has just passed away. He then receives a letter from her requesting that her ashes be scattered in the sea near her hometown. Curious about her request, Eiji makes a journey to Nagasaki, his wife's hometown.

Why you should watch it: If you want to cry. From the trailer alone, it looks like an introspective road film where the husband meets the residents of his wife's hometown and helps them solve their problems or maybe they tell him something about his wife that he never knew (something nice obviously, this is not a psycho drama!). Additionally, watch it if you are bringing your parents because everyone looks older than 25 in this film. The film has also won a few awards at the 2013 (36th) Japan Academy Prize.

2. "Detective Conan: Private Eye In The Distant Sea" (Meitantei Conan: Zekkai no Private Eye)

Conan and friends arrive at Maizuru Port to take part in the voyage of the Ijisu warship, a state-of-the art Aegis vessel with the full co-operation of Japan's real-life Ministry of Defense and Maritime Self-Defense Force. During the voyage, a soldier from the Self-Defense Forces without a left arm is found dead and Conan's love interest Ran is put in jeopardy. It is up to Conan and his friends to solve the mystery and find the killer.

Why you should watch it: If you love animated films or whodunit detective films or just "Detective Conan". Based on past experience with the previous films in the franchise, you don't need to have prior or extensive knowledge of the pint-sized detective and his equally pint-sized friends but it definitely helps. It is also hilarious how overdramatic detective films can get while solving the mystery (only in Japanese films they can employ a whole SWAT team and still ONE terrorist can get away).

3. Ken & Mary

Why you should watch it: To see Zizan Razak in a Japanese film of course! The film has a mainly international cast, so even if you are not fan of Zizan Razak or if you don't even know him, you get to see the super handsome Chinese actor-model Hu Bing ("The Back") talking Japanese and Malay and actress Kie Kitano being adorable. We even have pictures.


4. "Oblivion Island: Haruka And The Magic Mirror" (Hottarake no Shima: Haruka no Maho no Kagami)

A family-friendly film about a girl named Haruka who follows a fox into a pool of water to Oblivion Island to find her lost hand mirror, which is a keepsake from her mother. Oblivion Island is home to fantastical creatures who steal all neglected and forgotten toys from Haruka's world to build their own city, but now an evil tyrant threatens their very existence.

Why you should watch it: Admittedly, the story does not look too appealing, but it actually won the Nippon Cinema Award at the 2010 (10th) Nippon Connection. The animation also looks great, it seems to be on par with video games like the "Kingdom Hearts" series on PlayStation 2 with the tone and feel of "Ni No Kuni" on PlayStation 3.

5. "At River's Edge" (Ogawa no Hotori)

"At River's Edge" is a historical drama based on a short story by Shuhei Fujisawa, who is best known for writing "The Twilight Samurai", "The Hidden Blade" and "Love And Honor". In short, the film is about love, honor and all that jazz, where a samurai (Noriyuki Higashiyama) is ordered by his clan chamberlain to kill another samurai, who is coincidentally his younger sister's husband. WARNING: DRAMA AHEAD.

Why you should watch it: If you like Rinko Kikuchi, the actress who played Mako Mori in "Pacific Rim". In this movie, she plays a wife who takes up the sword against her brother in order to avenge her husband. How badass is that? Also watch this is you like period films and angst in general because everybody looks really miserable in the trailer.

6. "The Chef Of South Polar" (Omoshiro Nankyoku Ryurinin)

Based on two autobiographical novels by Jun Nishimura, the film centres on a research expedition living in Dome Fuji Station near the South Pole. As it is too cold and too far away from the nearest supply station, the expedition team suffers from a lack of good food. Enter Jun Nishimura, a miracle cook who manages to whip up extravagant meals consisting of high-class ingredients like foie gras, spiny lobster, and Matsuzaka beef.

Why you should watch it: IT'S A FILM ABOUT FOOD. You get to see one man overcoming the odds of finding ingredients just to enable his comrades to slurp down ramen, eat salmon riceballs and lobster croquettes. The lead is essayed by the ever-brilliant Masato Sakai, who also played one of the leads in last year's Japanese Film Festival's opening film, "Key Of Life".

7. "The Great Passage" (Fune wo Amu)

Majime (Ryuhei Matsuda) is talented in different languages and is the most important member of a dictionary edit team. However, his geeky personality alienates him from the rest of society. Soon, the beautiful Kaguya Hayashi (Aoi Miyazaki) moves into his boarding home as she is the granddaughter of the landlord and Majime falls for her. Despite being a master of words, Majime is unable to tell her how he feels.

Why you should watch it: It is the first film where Ryuhei Matsuda and Aoi Miyazaki play two opposites who are attracted to each other. Even the concept sounds good on paper; Ryuhei Matsuda as a geeky man who is unable to express his love for his beautiful and outspoken neighbour? After depressing Ryuhei films like "Taboo", "A Big Bang Love: Juvenile" and "Nightmare Detective", definitely count us in for this feel-good film! "The Great Passage" was also selected as Japan's submission for the "Best Foreign Language Film" at the 86th Academy Awards.

8. "The Kirishima Thing" (Kirishima, Bukatsu Yamerutteyo)

Contrary to its title, you don't get to see Kirishima in the film. That's why he's a "thing". Kirishima, the school's acknowledged leader and star athlete, has suddenly quit the volleyball team and disappeared, leaving the students in shock, which sets in motion a curious chain of events. The film is a careful examination of all the power struggles, class warfare, social angst and general life drama of an entire high school as seen through the lens of Kirishima's absence.

Why you should watch it:It sounds so artsy-fartsy and deep that it is hard to believe that any self-respecting movie critic wouldn't watch this and we know there are many self-proclaimed movie critics in Malaysia. The film delivers the message that you have to face your problems and fears firmly, now, with astounding impact. But who are we kidding, we just love Ryunosuke Kamiki. LOOK AT HIM.


9. "Until The Break Of Dawn" (Tsunagu)

High school student Ayumi (Tori Matsuzaka) is trained by his grandmother (Kirin Kiki) to act as a "tsunagu," an intermediary for people who want to reach the dead. Before passing this gift to Ayumi, she wants to be sure that he fully understands what it entails. By helping a series of clients to meet with their departed friends and loved ones, Ayumi learns the importance of living without regret, and at the same time comes to terms with the doubts that have haunted his own past.

Why you should watch it: If you don't really care much for "Dearest", but you want to cry, then try this film because it has the same vibe as Yōjirō Takita's Oscar-winning film "Departures". "Departures" tells the story about a man learning about the art of embalming and helping others to come to terms with death, "Until The Break Of Dawn" tells the story about a boy learning about being a connector and helping others to obtain closure about death. Additionally, Yuichiro Hirakawa, who directs the latter, is known for helming popular and tear-jerking drama series like "Crying Out Love, In The Center Of The World", "Into the White Night", "Rookies" and "Tonbi".

Related Movies:
Detective Conan: Private Eye In The Distant Sea (JFF) (Japanese) (12 Sep 2013)
Ken And Mary (JFF) (Japanese) (12 Sep 2013)
At River’s Edge (JFF) (35mm) (Japanese) (12 Sep 2013)
The Chef Of South Polar (JFF Online) (Japanese) (14 Feb 2022)
The Kirishima Thing (JFF) (35mm) (Japanese) (12 Sep 2013)
Until The Break Of Dawn (JFF Online) (Japanese) (14 Feb 2022)
Dearest (JFF) (35mm) (Japanese) (12 Sep 2013)
Oblivion Island: Haruka And The Magic Mirror (JFF) (35mm) (Japanese) (12 Sep 2013)
The Great Passage (JFF Online) (Japanese) (15 Nov 2021)

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