Basset Hounds are Cyberpunk AF

Yesterday Netflix released Duncan Jones’ Mute (2018), the cyberpunk movie the director had been gestating for some sixteen years. Loosely connected to his debut Moon (2009) and starring Alexander Skarsgård, Paul Rudd, and Justin Theroux in a near-future Berlin, I found it unevenly paced but totally engrossing – well worth a try from any subscriber, even if the director himself has said it’s a Marmite kind of filmBlade Runner may have set the template for cyberpunk visuals but Mute managed to remind me of the even filthier, cheaper, more run-down and lived in worlds of Harebrained Schemes‘ Shadowrun games – especially, of course, the Berlin-set Shadowrun: Dragonfall.

Halfway through the movie, as Paul Rudd’s uncharacteristically unpleasant Cactus Bill skulks through graffiti covered streets, what should walk prominently across the shot but a Basset Hound?

MuteBasset
A Basset Hound in Mute (2018)

Of course, I can’t help but assume this is a reference to my favourite cyberpunk series, Ghost in the Shell:

gitsbasset
Batou and Gabriel in Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (2004)

Mute: cementing that Basset Hounds are cyberpunk af

Happy New Year from Kino 893!

明けましておめでとう!

Welcome to 2018 and welcome back to Kino 893. Last year, I set out to explore Japanese cinema in a way I never had before, pushing myself to hunt down everything from classics by Akira Kurosawa to B-movie action and horror unearthed by niche publishers like Arrow, Eureka, and Criterion. I’d always had a soft spot for Japanese films given my time spent living in or studying Japan over the last decade, but 2017 marked the first time I sat down to check out a lot of films I really should have seen before.

I started Kino 893 to chronicle the different movies I was watching and hopefully over time build up an eclectic collection of reviews. For many of the more obscure films, I was also encouraged by the fact very little information on them exists in English, and I wanted to try and include as much as I could for other film fans looking to track this stuff down. I was aiming to release a new review every week for the whole of 2017, but ‘real life’ occasionally got in the way – but still, 45 out of 52 isn’t bad! In 2018, I hope to hit my target, as well as releasing the occasional ‘bonus’ review still relevant to the site – Hollywood movies set in Japan, the Western films of Japanese directors, or Japanese dorama, anime, or videogames.

With the holiday season now behind us, if you missed my reviews of Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence or Tokyo Godfathers, be sure to check them out now. New reviews will start arriving this Friday, January 4th, with Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon leading the pack. As ever, follow and subscribe to get updates on new reviews and articles, and I welcome comments on reviews whether you agree or disagree with my takes.

31st Leeds International Film Festival

Every year in my adopted Yorkshire hometown, Leeds holds the Leeds International Film Festival. This year marks the 31st, and for the first time for only the second time since catching Howl’s Moving Castle back in 2005, I’m actually paying attention to what’s on offer. While there are plenty of noteworthy films in competition for the first time or being replayed on the festival’s cult or retrospective circuits, this site of course focuses on Japanese cinema, so here’s my breakdown of the Japanese films on offer at #LIFF31.

The only Japanese film in the festival’s official selection – described as “some of the most anticipated films of 2017, alongside outstanding debuts” – is Atsuko Hirayanagi’s first film, Oh Lucy! (2017). Adapted from a 2014 short of the same name, it stars Shinobu Terajima and Josh Hartnett.

With few exceptions, the remaining Japanese films can be found in two marathon sessions – Animation Sunday (Sunday 5th November) and the Manga Movie Marathon (Sunday 12th November).

Continue reading “31st Leeds International Film Festival”

Technical Difficulties

In case you missed my tweet, this is just a quick update to admit that I missed last week’s review slot because my internet connection has been down for days, which is a real problem when I write everything in Google Docs before cross-posting to WordPress! It’s now back, and the latest review, of Mamoru Oshii’s Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, should be up this Friday.

ARIB_COLOR_BAR_100

Anime x Kino 893

I’m sure there’s a huge crossover between fans of Japanese film and fans of anime – just as I’m sure there are anime fans who don’t care about live action movies, and film fans who don’t care about anime! I don’t think Kino 893 will ever focus on anime – that could be a whole different site and never run out of material – but every now and again there’s the option of looking at classics like Ghost in the Shell or new releases like Blame!

If you’re an anime fan, why not get in touch on MyAnimeList or Crunchyroll? You can find me on both as “Jiroemon”. I’m always open to suggestions on what to watch next, and it could end up in a future review!

ghost-in-the-shell-batou
Batou, drinking San Miguel beer

Coming Attractions

I intend to release a new review every Friday for the rest of the year – and perhaps the foreseeable future, as it’s not as if there are only 52 Japanese films worth discussing! Here’s a quick peek at some upcoming films from my shelf. Some of these, like Kinji Fukasaku’s Battles Without Honour and Humanity and Battle Royale or Takashi Miike’s Audition13 Assassins, and Hara-Kiri, are films I’ve seen before but will be welcome additions to the blog. Others are films I’ve picked up in Arrow Video sales, on recommendations from friends and readers, or because I want to expand my library of a particular director or actor.

IMG_20170419_153425
Not pictured: Battles Without Honour and Humanity, which refuses to photograph well

I’m particularly excited about Lone Wolf and Cub, which recently got the Criterion Collection treatment, and Kagemusha, as I strive to watch the rest of Akira Kurosawa’s films. Of course, this doesn’t include movie rentals and the odd gem from YouTube, like Miike’s bizarre, slightly disappointing adaptation of SEGA’s Yakuza games.

So stay tuned, please do comment on and like reviews if you enjoy them, and follow if you want to stay up to date!

Corrections!

I’ve been reviewing Nikkatsu’s late-60s Outlaw VIP series here on Kino 893, and like every other film I look at, I like to include the director. Unfortunately, I’ve just realised that I’ve been crediting the wrong man for every instalment after the first! Toshio Masuda directed Outlaw Gangster VIP, but the first sequel was actually the directorial debut of Keiichi Ozawa. The third film, Heartless, was from Mio Ezaki, and then Ozawa returned for the last three. I must confess, I only realised my mistake while reading the booklet included in the Arrow Video release.

It’s surprisingly difficult to dig up information on some of these films, so all credit to Arrow and the supplementary material with their releases. I’ll have to keep a closer eye on the credits!

I’m aiming to post a new review every Friday, and coming up, I’ve got the last Outlaw VIP movies, Sion Sono’s Cold Fish, and the first Stray Cat Rock movie, Delinquent Girl Boss. If anyone has suggestions not already mentioned on the Archive page, let me know in the comments!

All Caught Up

With Outlaw: Heartless written up for the site, I’m now caught up on reviews for the films I’ve watched so far in 2017. I’ll be adding new articles as I watch new films, aiming to add at least one or two more every month – maybe more. You can jump over to the archive where I have links to all the reviews currently available, as well as those movies I have ready to go but haven’t reviewed yet. If you think there’s something I should definitely cover here then leave a comment or get hold of me on Twitter.

A Fresh Start

I kicked off 2017 with a string of vintage Japanese movies I’d never seen before. Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai and Throne of Blood, the Speed-like The Bullet Train, and a scattering of late ’60s B-movies. I started putting my thoughts on them together on my Facebook page at first, but after a while, people kept suggesting I start a blog instead (for the record, I’m pretty sure they just wanted me to stop clogging up their feeds with black-and-white stills from ’50s movies).

This isn’t intended to be a set of professional reviews. They’re my subjective opinions while working my way through seventy-odd years of Japanese cinema, but I hope to throw in some of the interesting facts I’m picking up along the way, and flesh out the reviews as I go on.

If there’s a particular movie you think I should see, leave a comment or get in touch through Twitter.