The Nobuhiro Yamashita thread

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The Nobuhiro Yamashita thread

Unread post by HungFist » 02 Jul 2009, 17:21

I've been postponing this thread for ages, but it doesn't seem like I'll be able to get all of Yamashita's movies in my hands anytime soon. I'll just post some info on the ones I've got now - at the risk of not always knowing what I'm talking about - and go back in chronology later some day, some year, when I've get the chance....

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Brief introduction

Nobuhiro Yamashita – the most interesting Japanese director of the late 90’s / early 2000’s – has often been compared to Aki Kaurismäki and Jim Jarmusch. Yamashita makes low key comedies about losers who haven’t found their place in society. An IMDB user called Yamashita’s film Realims no yado an ”ultra-quiet comedy of microscopic humiliations” which is a good description of Yamashita’s Osaka-period films. However, Yamashita isn’t mean to his characters but shows great compassion towards them. Usually his misfortunate heroes feel rather comfortable with their little insignificant lives. These characters are also much influenced by the director himself, who often identifies himself with the main protagonists.

Yamashita made his silver screen debut with the Osaka set slacker film Hazy Life in 1999. It was followed by the similarly themed No One’s Ark (2003) and Ramblers (2003). In 2004 Yamashita moved to Tokyo, and the style of his films changed a bit. He started dividing his time between big mainstream pleasers such as Linda Linda Linda (2005) and Tennen kokekko (2007), and interesting smaller audience films like the hentai manga adaptation Cream Lemon (2004) and Matsugane ransha jiken (2006). While these films retain high quality, they are not quite as brilliant as the Yamashita works born in the the Osaka indie scene.

What has gone below most people’s radar is Yamashita’s work outside feature length movies. He has done a lot of short movies, television work and even fake documentaries. One of his most recent works is the Jikken 4 gou project where Yamashita collaborated with novelist Kotaro Isaoka, both men using different mediums (film / novel) to tell story. Generally speaking these smaller projects aren’t on part with Yamashita’s feature length movies and often feel very experimental. But that’s how Yamashita likes to work; to accept challenges and see if he can pull it off. Also, aside directing, screenwriting and producing Yamashita does some acting. He has played small parts in movie such as P Kan Couple (2005) and Have a Nice Day (2006), and also often makes cameo appearances in his own movies.

Yamashita often works together with his old friends that include Kosuke Mukai - who has written most of his movies – and actor Hiroshi Yamamoto who starred in all three of Yamashita’s major Osaka films. Another famous person Yamashita knows from his student years is the ’pink director currently making mainstream breakthrough’ Ryuichi Honda. Honda’s film Watermelon (2005) actually stars Hiroshi Yamamoto. Yamashita has stated that Linda Linda Linda (his big Tokyo / mainstream breakthrough) was the first film he shot with a crew that he didn’t know from his college years....

Partial director filmography:

Kusaru onna (1997) (Short film)
Donten seikatsu (Hazy Life) (1999)
Baka no hakobune (No One’s Ark) (2003)
Realism no yado (Ramblers) (2003)
Sono otoko, kyobo ni tsuki (The Most Dangerous Man Alive) (2003) (Short film)
Fusho no hito (2004) (OV)
Cream Lemon (2004)
Anatakikou: Lilly (2005) (Music video)
Linda Linda Linda (2005)
Yume juya (2006) (Episode 8: ’An Eighth Night of Dreams’)
Matsugane ransha jiken (Matsugane Potshot Affair) (2006)
Chugakusei nikki (2006) (Short film / OV)
Tennen kokekko (A Gentle Breeze in the Village) (2007)
Jikken 4 gou: It’s a small world (Short film)
Camouflage (2008) (TV series) (Chapter 3)
Shukan Maki Yoko (2008) (TV series) (Episode 4: Nakano no yujin)
Warera tenka wo mezasu (2008) (Short film)
Mecha kowa Vol. 1 (2009) (OV)
Mecha kowa Vol. 2 (2009) (OV)
Mecha kowa Vol. 3 (2009) (OV)

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Last edited by HungFist on 03 Jul 2009, 21:15, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread post by HungFist » 02 Jul 2009, 17:25


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Unread post by HungFist » 02 Jul 2009, 17:30

Hazy Life (Donten seikatsu) (1999)

Nobuhiro Yamashita’s first feature length film follows two young men (played by the director-turned-actor Hiroshi Yamamoto and Teppei Uda) who are unemployed (aside from shooting amateur AV) and have little aim in life. They spent most of their time sitting in a tiny apartment, or standing outside it, usually not even talking to each other. Like all early Yamashita characters, they are likable losers whose life is completely free of major events. But Yamashita loves his characters and follows their boring life without any hurry. He allows the film to be slow - bland someone might say, although the truth is the exact opposite, and even Yamashita’s trademark dry humour is plenty here – and doesn’t try hook up the viewer with shocks, tricks or forced art that plagues a lot of indie cinema.

The DVD extras feature cast and crew commentary, 16 min making off and 31 minutes of interviews. Yamashita himself stays behind the camera almost all of the time. Trailers for No One’s Ark and Realism no yado are also included.

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Extras
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Unread post by HungFist » 02 Jul 2009, 17:43

No One’s Ark (Baka no hakobune) (2003)

Nobuhiro Yamashita’s near-perfect second film follows a young couple trying to start a business on a small island. But of course nothing really works out as planned. Written by Kosuke Mukai, who has worked on almost all Yamashita’s movies, No One’s Ark is slightly more story driven and bolder than the director’s debut feature. The character’s have ambitions and a plan... it’s just not a very carefully thought out plan and when it fails they find themselves in the typical Yamashita state of inaction. The film’s bigger budget shows in cinematography and great use of music, but the slow pace and excellently timed humour are still present. Yamashita regular Hiroshi Yamamoto and female lead Tomoko Kotera are absolutely perfect in the lead roles.

The R2J extras feature 13 min making of, a total of 35 min of interviews, alternative ending credits (5 min) and trailers for No One’s Ark and Realism no yado.

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Yamashita
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Unread post by HungFist » 02 Jul 2009, 17:56

Realism no Yado (2003)

Realism no Yado is the last one of Yamashita’s major Osaka-era works and also his best movie. Despite being based on manga by Yoshiharu Tsuge it feels 100% Yamashita / Mukai film. Keiji Nagatsuka and Hiroshi Yamamoto star as two young filmmakers who are to meet their producer is in a small norther town. The producer, however, misses the meeting. Now the two men who barely know each other are trapped in a cold sleepy town full uncomfortable ryokans. Saving them from a complete boredom they run into a nice young lady (Machiko Ono) who apparently lost her clothes while swimming (it’s was snowing just a while ago!). Realism no Yado is a more minimalistic film than No One’s Ark but even more successful. The humour is hilarious, the characters absolutely brilliant, and cinematographer Ryûto Kondô does terrific job. The soundtrack is also great, although it uses music very sparsely.

DVD extras feature Yamashita and Mukai commentary, Nagatsuka and Yamamoto inteviews (20 min), interesting deleted scenes (6 min), trailer and music video. A 12 page booklet is also included.

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Deleted scene
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Unread post by HungFist » 02 Jul 2009, 19:21

Cream Lemon (2004)

After moving from Osaka to Tokyo, just before winning over the mainstream audiences with Linda Linda Linda, Nobuhiro Yamashita made a live action adaptation from hetai manga. Distributed by Fullmotion, a company best know for their series of erotic dramas (which include works by Yamashita’s old friend Ryuichi Honda), Cream Lemon turned out something different than its premise. Yamashita made a film that plays 40 minutes without sex scenes, and 77 minutes without nudity, with the total running time clocking at 77 minutes. Pink, if it ever was intended to be a part of the product, seemingly went lost somewhere in the process. But Yamashita’s skill did not. While not as brilliant as the his main Osaka films, Cream Lemon is still almost exceptionally good filmmaking in the drama genre. Yamashita handles the story of a brother who falls in love with his sister with humour, delicacy, perfect pacing and stylish cinematography.

The extras on Fullmotion’s dvd run longer than the film itself. Included are interviews (15 min), more interviews (13 min), message from the filmmakers (5 min), two trailers (1:57 and 2:02) and a 58 min making of documentary.

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Unread post by HungFist » 02 Jul 2009, 19:26

Cream Lemon extras

Chiharu Muraishi getting familiar with the story. Realism no yado on the background.
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Yamashita and Kenji Mizuhashi (5 Centimeters per Second).
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Yamashita by Chiharu-san.
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Kantoku-kun can’t help himself.
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Kazuyoshi Ozawa plays a small supporting role in Cream Lemon.
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He played the loser wanna-be-Elvis radio host in Honda's film My Wife’s Shell.
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You can track his career back to Sukeban Deka II
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Unread post by HungFist » 06 Jul 2009, 17:41

Linda Linda Linda (2005)

Nobuhiro Yamahita’s first mainstream film became a big international hit and deservedly so; it’s a brilliant movie. Yamashita was offered a rather typical studio film screenplay about four high school girls who form a band and perform at the school festival. Together with his long time screenwriting partner Kosuke Mukai Yamashita made some changes to the storyline (such as making one of the characters Korean) and delivered a film that is both a terrific crowd pleaser and still retains plenty of Yamashita style. Most importantly Yamashita’s directing is fresh, lacking the plastic feel of many other youth films, and paying attention to details. Only a couple of scenes feel overly conventional, and these appear mostly during the film’s final third. Some of the humour – such as the communication problems – remind of the director’s older films. The soundtrack is terrific, featuring a score by James Iha, plus four leads performing songs by the classic punk rock band The Blue Hearts. Aki Maeda, Yu Kashii, Base Ball Bear Sekine Shiori and the terrific Doo-na Bae play the lead roles. Although this was the first film Yamashita made with a new crew, many familiar faces are seen in supporting roles and cameo appearances. These include Yamashita’s regular actors Hiroshi Yamamoto and Takeshi Yamamoto, and the Midnight Eye critic Jason Gray as a Ramones member!

VAP’s R2J features terrific extras. There’s a 25 min behind the scenes feature, Yamashita and Mukai commentary, two press conferences (7 min) of which the first one really funny because the cast introduce themselves in Korean, 2½ min feature with composer James Iha in N.Y, alternate angle recording of each of the girls performing ’An Endless Song’ (7 min), trailer, and a real gem, the girls performing ’Linda Linda Linda’ and ’An Endless Song’ live at Shibuya-AX. Cardboard sleeve, 34 page booklet and a metal pendant or keychain or something ( don’t really know what this damn thing is, but I like it) is also included but I think these were limited to first press which is long out of print. The transfer is a bit edge enhanced but good and progressive. Audio is 2.0 only but I’m sure that’s the way this film meant to be seen. The R1 is also 2.0, comes with an interlaced transfer, and has no extras worth mentioning.

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Takeshi Yamamoto
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Hiroshi Yamamoto
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Unread post by HungFist » 06 Jul 2009, 17:50

Extras

Yamashita
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Aki
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I love this footage
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James Iha
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Everyone knows Aki is one the most beautiful women on the planet. That's why I'm posting so many caps of her.
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Live at Shibuya-AX
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In case you don't know, Shibuya-AX is a commonly used concert hall. It's located in Shibuya, Tokyo...
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... but I think it's actually closer to Harajuku station than Shibuya station. In any case it's easily accessible.
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Just be prepared to pay high prices and purchase from second hand dealers. They usually snap the tickets...
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... within second when they become available. That's how it works with popular concerts in Japan.
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Unread post by HungFist » 06 Jul 2009, 17:52

Linda 3, Part 3: Will he ever stop? No. I want to show you the booklet and "the thing".

The booklet
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The thing that I like
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EDIT: DVD comparison:
http://www.bulletsnbabesdvd.com/forums/ ... =19&t=5521

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Unread post by HungFist » 07 Jul 2009, 20:37

Matsugane ransha jiken (2006)

Matsugane ransha jiken was marketed as a hip detective movie, and referred as Japanese Fargo. That’s Fargo re-written by Kosuke Mukai, based on another story, and directed by Yamashita who has little in common with the Coen brothers. That leaves us with a striking connection of both movies being black comedies and taking place in a small northern town (Matsugane was shot in the Nagano area). The ”hip detective” –connection is even more out of the wind; it simply doesn’t exist. That’s good news for many Yamashita fans. The director’s previous film Linda Linda Linda was terrific on its own right, but it’s also great to see Yamashita hasn’t sold out to big studio productions. Compared to the director’s Osaka movies Matsugane ransha jiken is slightly more polished in terms of production values, and also, to some extent, building up on a crime plot, but in spirit this is still very Yamashita. The opening scene alone shows a young kid discovering a woman’s body in the snow. When she shows no signs of life, the kid starts feeling her breasts. It’s a slightly disturbing but also a fun and quiet scene. Like the early Yamashita characters, the heroes of Matsugane ransha jiken don’t speak too much and rarely manage to say anything constructive. The slow pacing is sure to put off mainstream viewers, and Yamashita has great skill in capturing locations. The snowy, tiny bit grainy images and realistic audio create an illusion of a real small town (although fictional in this case) rather than movie set ups or postcard landscapes.

This is a very good progressive transfer from VAP. The artwork and packaging (bardboard sleeve, digipack) are also very stylish. Extras are on disc 2, which features a 46 min making of concentrating on the locations. Original trailer is also included, but no booklet.

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Last edited by HungFist on 07 Jul 2009, 22:15, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread post by HungFist » 07 Jul 2009, 20:38

Matsugane extras

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Unread post by HungFist » 11 Jul 2009, 17:31

Tennen kokekko (2007)

Nobuhiro Yamashita’s second big mainstream film’s got the most describing English title; A Gentle Breeze in the Village. It’s a visually very beautiful film full of light, colours and green nature (almost an exact opposite from Matsugane ransha jiken which had a cool and blue visual tone). But it’s also Yamashita’s least recognizable film to date. The director’s skill is very much present, but his trademarks are not. The Osaka-era slacker humour and characters are missing, and the film’s beauty is far more traditional. This kind of project could have been handled by any first grade mainstream director. Similarly the screenplay – which was not written by Kosuke Mukai but Aya Watanabe – is a conventional youth story taking place in a small village. It is a ”small and quiet” screenplay, but this type storytelling has become so common in Japanese drama cinema nowadays that it could be labeled as ”arthouse for mainstream audience” or vice versa.

The storyline begins when a new student, Hiromi, (Masaki Okada) arrives from Tokyo to countryside and joins a small school that only has 6 students. The oldest of the kids, Soyo (Kaho) immediately has a crush on him, although his arrogant big city type character comes as a set back. All this leads to a couple of romantic or otherwise unneeded scenes (the festival sequence for example) that don’t really have a place in the film. But such scenes are in the minority, thanfully, and don’t prevent Tennen kokekko from being a highly enjoyable and well acted movie. Yamashita loads the film with tranquil images of school corridors, small roads and nature. There is a short Tokyo segment as well, and interestingly Yamashita shows Tokyo as a bit depressive and threatening place. The director himself has also stated he doesn’t feel entirely comfortable in Tokyo. Also worth a mention is that the ending scene – possibly by a pure chance – reminds of Shinji Somai’s Ohikkoshi (1993).

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Unread post by HungFist » 11 Jul 2009, 17:35

As for dvd specs see Shing’s review.

The great director and his cast
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Unread post by HungFist » 12 Jul 2009, 10:15

Sono otoko, kyobo ni tsuki (2003)

Sono otoko, kyobo ni tsuki is, a fake documentary, is one of Yamashita’s weirdest projects. The director himself interviews and follows and favous detective (constantly talking to his cellphone, giving orders like ”send 300 men to the crime scene”) who has side job as an AV actor... except that his stories don’t sound exactly reliable... Sono otoko, kyobo ni tsuki is more of a 40 minute joke than carefully planned film, but it works quite well. Some scenes are awkward, while others are downright hilarious. Yamashita himself seem to have most fun; you can often hear him laughing behind the camera. This is a film for the fans of the director, not necessarily so much for the fans of his movies. Yamashita later continued on the same path with Fusho no hito (2005).

Extras feature short version of the film (10 min), 2 Behind the scenes featurettes (29 min and 7 min) and a trailer for Linda Linda Linda. The R2J comes with English subs.

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Unread post by HungFist » 12 Jul 2009, 10:20

Chugakusei Nikki (2007)

Ironically, one of Nobuhiro Yamashita’s least known works outside Japan is based on some of the best known material in Japan. Yamashita’s 50 minute Chugakusei Nikki was preceeded by comics and numerous TV version over the decades. And, as one might expect, this is yet another one of Yamashita’s ”challenges”, rather than a large scale or carefully drafted production. The film consists of 5 scenes taking place in junior high school on a day when the teacher doesn’t arrive and the students are alone all day. Chugakusei Nikki is not a quiet and dreamlike high school drama like many Japanese films in the genre nowadays (including Yamashita’s own film Tennen kokekko), but more like a day in zoo. In this respect, it reminds me of my own junior high school days. It’s a decently fun movie, but Yamashita’s fans were probably expecting a bit different kind of touch from the director.

The DVD comes in a book-like hard cover case and includes a 58 page booklet. DVD extras consist of short deleted scene (which was probably deleted because, unlike any other scene in the film, if takes place outside the school), music video, and Yamashita’s meeting with the comic book authors (approx 20 min). During this feature wel also see several Yamashita childhood pictures.

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Unread post by HungFist » 12 Jul 2009, 10:30

Q.B.B & Y
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Old Yamashita photo 1
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Old Yamashita photo 2
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DVD (cardboard sleeve front & digipack front)
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DVD (digipack inside)

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Unread post by HungFist » 12 Jul 2009, 10:32

It’s a small world (2008)

This is a Nobuhiro Yamashita film that went unnoticed by most people, largely because it’s only one half of the Jikken 4 gou project between Yamashita and novelist Kotaro Isaka. Isaka’s contribution is a short novel, Yamashita made a short film. Setting the movie in an abandoned school and only featuring a handful of actors It’s a small world sounds a bit more promising that it really is. Although several long takes and lack of music in many scenes are recognizable Yamashita, the film is a bit clinical. This shows for example in cinematography; there are postcard shots, but they don’t come alive in motion. Humour and well drafted characters are also absent from the pic, although it has to be mentioned that I have not read Isaka’s novel which no doubt weakens the experience and leaves it incomplete. Execution and content wise It’s a small world falls somewhere in between Yamashita’s refined masterpieces and more experiental works, without really managing to utilize the strengths of either. Nevetheless, it does have it’s moments and interesting premise that makes it worth a watch.

The dvd features no extras.

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Unread post by HungFist » 12 Jul 2009, 10:32

Cardboard sleeve...
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...holding two "books", one of them a genuine book, and the other one a dvd case.
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Re: The Nobuhiro Yamashita thread

Unread post by HungFist » 03 Aug 2009, 21:50

Since we all love Mitsuki Tanimura, it’s good news one of Yamashita's lesser known projects is all about her. 谷村美月17歳、京都着。~恋が色づくその前に~ is "documentary" following the 17 year old Tanimura on her three day Kyoto holiday. It's produced by Yamashita and written by Mukai, although apparently it wasn't a very screenplay oriented production and it’s not always so obvious how much is real and how much is set up. The feedback from Mitsuki fans has been very positive. I remember Yamashita explaing they had slight problems with everybody falling in love with Tanimura, having to hire a new editor (Tetsuaki Matsue) to ensure a coherent outcome... out of the 30 hours of Mitsuki footage they had shot...

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http://www.ponycanyon.co.jp/mitsuki/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GGhyRcRK8_E

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Re: The Nobuhiro Yamashita thread

Unread post by HungFist » 16 May 2010, 10:29

Upcoming Yamashita film, My Back Page

The new film is called My Back Page and is set in the late 1960s around the time of the student protests at Tokyo University. It’s based on the experiences of film critic and translator Saburo Kawamoto, who worked as a newspaper reporter from 1969-1972. Satoshi Tsumabuki (29) will play a journalist and Kenichi Matsuyama (25) will play a left-wing university student.
- http://www.nipponcinema.com/blog/tsumab ... back-page/

The screenplay is by Kosuke Mukai again.

Doesn't sound what we're expecting from Yamashita, but then again, Matsugane also turned out to be something completely different than expected.

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Re: The Nobuhiro Yamashita thread

Unread post by HungFist » 01 Jan 2011, 14:56

HungFist wrote:Upcoming Yamashita film, My Back Page
Website:
http://mbp-movie.com/

Almost empty so far. The film will open in May.

Yamashita's been doing a lot of TV work (Yu Aoi's Camouflage, cooking drama Shinya shokudou, etc) and V-Cinema (a bunch of ghost themed fake documentaries) recently. One interesting work is the cell phone film Dohyogiwa no Aria, which stars Chiaki Kuriyama. It was originally distributed through cellphone manufacturer / operator AU's Lismo Channel as cellphone download content. It's now available on DVD, too. The running time is 27 minutes.

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Re: The Nobuhiro Yamashita thread

Unread post by HungFist » 05 Feb 2011, 23:16

HungFist wrote:
HungFist wrote:Upcoming Yamashita film, My Back Page
Website:
http://mbp-movie.com/

Almost empty so far. The film will open in May.
Uninteresting trailer:
http://www.nipponcinema.com/trailers/my ... es-trailer

Let's hope the film is good.

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Re: The Nobuhiro Yamashita thread

Unread post by HungFist » 01 Jun 2011, 17:57

HungFist wrote:
HungFist wrote:
HungFist wrote:Upcoming Yamashita film, My Back Page
Website:
http://mbp-movie.com/

Almost empty so far. The film will open in May.
Uninteresting trailer:
http://www.nipponcinema.com/trailers/my ... es-trailer

Let's hope the film is good.
Review:
http://pageofmadness.wordpress.com/2011 ... back-page/

UPDATE: longer review:
http://pageofmadness.wordpress.com/2011 ... back-page/

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Re: The Nobuhiro Yamashita thread

Unread post by HungFist » 04 Aug 2011, 10:28

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2011/12/02

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