24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Japanese film

Around Town: 'Battle Royale' finally gets U.S. theatrical release

December 23, 2011 | 11:55 am

Battle Royale

A group of teenage schoolkids is deposited on a deserted island for the express purpose of killing one another in the hope of individual self-preservation. That might sound awfully similar to the plot of the upcoming "Hunger Games" movie due out in the spring, but it's actually the description for "Battle Royale," the 2000 Japanese film that has become one of the essential cult movies of the new millennium.

Incredibly, the film is getting its first U.S. theatrical run starting Saturday at the Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre. (Consider it holiday season stress release viewing.)

The film was the last completed work by the then seventysomething director Kinji Fukasaku, known to American audiences for his work on the WWII aerial dogfight action picture "Tora! Tora! Tora!" Even directors half his age would be hard-pressed to match the go-for-broke energy in "Battle Royale," adapted by Kenta Fukasaku (the director's son) from a novel by Koushun Takami, with its extremely violent, wildly funny and totally bonkers sensibility. (Kinji Fukasaku passed away in 2003 while working on a sequel.)

Actress Chiaki Kuriyama would again don a schoolgirl outfit to play the brutal killer Gogo Yubari in "Kill Bill: Vol. 1" made by Quentin Tarantino, an avowed "BR" fan. Iconic Japanese actor and director Takeshi Kitano fuels the film's satiric undercurrents with his typical laid-back intensity.

"BR" is widely available on DVD, but this is a rare chance to see the film in a theater. As extra enticement, there will be a special "cosplay" screening of the film on the 30th, with discount tickets to those who arrive in costume, so break out the school blazers, knee socks and odd track suit.

The film plays through Jan. 2. For more info, visit www.cinefamily.org.


Around Town: Don Hertzfeldt kicks of Cinefamily's 'Animation Breakdown'

Takashi Miike enters the samurai genre with "13 Assassins"

-- Mark Olsen


Photo: "Battle Royale." Credit: Toei Co.



Japan Film Society launches festival at Chinese 6 in Hollywood

November 1, 2011 | 11:00 am

The Japan Film Society is launching a film festival in Hollywood that will highlight current Japanese shorts and feature films.

Dubbed LA EigaFest, the festival runs Nov. 11-13 at the Mann Chinese 6 Theatres. "Eiga" means film in Japanese.

Opening the program is director Yoshimasa Ishibashi's 2011 "Milocrorze: A Love Story."  Ishibashi and star Takayuki Yamada will be on hand for a Q&A after the screening.

The festival concludes with Takashi Miike's 2011 "Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai 3D." There also will be an awards ceremony that will present the grand prize for the film judged to be the best in the competition.

A schedule and descriptions of the films playing can be found at the EigaFest website.


"Audition": Gruesome but Skillful

Indie Focus: Takashi Miike picks up a genre's sword for "13 Assassins"

— Susan King

Photo: Japanese director Takashi Miike, shown in 2001. Credit: Ann Johansson / For the Times


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