Japan Society’s annual Japan Cuts Film Festival for 2015 ran from July 9th to July 19th. It featured a wide variety of engrossing movies and was a great event overall. I attended 7 of the 29 showings, including US premiers and spotlight screenings with directors, actresses, etc as special guests to introduce their movies and participate in q&as afterwards.
Here’s a look at a few of them.
An amazingly funny low budget movie about the making of a low budget movie. Set entirely in a single room, the makeup room for a porn shoot, Kei Morikawa’s minimalist endeavor takes full advantage of his experience in the industry, actual adult video actresses, and a brilliant performance from non-AV actress Aki Morita as the makeup artist to create a unique comedy with touches of authenticity and drama. The sex is always just off-screen, but the consequences of each scene bounce hilariously back to the room we’re stuck in. It’s a close call, but this was my favorite of the festival.
One of the few films this year to venture into science fiction, Strayer’s Chronicle features two groups of young adults who were experimented on as children resulting in special powers with dangerous side-effects. The premise itself isn’t terribly original, but I found the execution refreshingly different. This was not the full blown action movie a lot of the audience seemed to expect, and opinions seemed very mixed as the theater emptied. However I enjoyed it for what it was and found the foreboding atmosphere, conflicted characters and moral questions raised made up for the plot not being as tight as it could have been. This was another win for me.
100 Yen Love
Sakura Ando received the festival’s Cut Above Award for Outstanding Performance in Film directly before this screening, and it’s easy to see why. Her startling yet logical transformation from unmotivated slob to driven boxer was amazing to watch and 100% believable. There were small pieces of the plot that bothered me, but overall the movie worked wonderfully and Ando’s powerful performance more than compensated for any small missteps. The q&a after the movie with Ando was both informative and fun, as she was clearly excited to be there and her energy was contagious.
I’ll continue with the rest of the films I saw later this week.