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TIFFCOM: Hot Japanese Titles at the Tokyo Film Market

The TIFFCOM market, a sales event adjacent to the Tokyo International Film Festival, always includes the latest film launches from Japan. This year the selection is especially varied and rich. Arranged by sales company, highlights include:

Kadokawa
“Chiwawa”
Scripted and directed by Ken Ninomiya, this mystery about a 20-year-old Instagram star who ends up dead in Tokyo Bay, is based on a popular comic. It features a cast that includes the internationally known Chiaki Kuriyama (“Kill Bill”) and Tadanobu Asano (“The Third Murder”).

“Hard-Core”
Festival favorite, Nobuhiro Yamashita (“Linda, Linda, Linda”) has adapted a cult hit comic about a pair of misfits who are inseparable friends. They encounter a retro-looking robot with astonishing powers, and together embark on a bizarre hunt for long-buried treasure.

“The Antique: Secret of the Old Books”
Yukiko Mishima, director of the acclaimed 2017 drama “Dear Etranger,” has returned with a literary mystery, based on En Mikami’s best-selling novel. A beautiful young bookstore owner with incredible expertise impresses a man who is selling a rare book belonging to his grandmother. He begins working at the store – and joins her in a battle with a menacing customer who has threatened and injured her. Haru Kuroki (“The Little House”) stars as the owner.

Wowow
“How Do You Play?”
Masaaki Ito’s adaptation of an original story by veteran comedy writer and director Kankuro Kudo (“Too Young to Die”) involves the filming of a suspense drama. When reshoots are suddenly ordered, instead of rounding up the lead detective’s missing co-star, the film’s makers decide to cast various available actors in the part. Chaos and comedy ensues.

“The Miracle of Crybay Shottan”
Indie stalwart, Toshiaki Toyoda has put aside his signature violence and surrealism to direct a biopic of a young Japanese chess prodigy who fails to enter the pro ranks, but who makes a miraculous comeback on the verge of middle age. Ryuhei Matsuda (“Gohatto”) stars as the struggling hero.

“Stolen Face”
Masaharu Take and Shin Adaci – director and scriptwriter, respectively, of the 2014 hit boxing film “100 Yen Love” – have reteamed to make a thriller about a police investigator with a knack for remembering faces. One day he is startled to see a familiar face, that of a senior detective dead for four years.

Colorbird
“Every Day a Good Day”
A drama, based on a best-selling essay collection, about a woman’s 25-year association with the Japanese traditional tea ceremony. Tatsushi Omori (“Ravine of Goodbye”) directs much-lauded veteran Kirin Kiki (“Shoplifters”), playing the heroine’s teacher, in one of her last performances before her death this year at age 75.

“Just Only Love”
Indie sensation, Rikiya Imaizumi’s latest romantic drama is about a woman obsessed with a guy who treats her as disposable. Based on an award-winning novel, the film premieres in the Tokyo festival’s main competition.

Pony Canyon
“Confidence Man JP”
The film version of a hit Fuji TV series about a female trickster (Masami Nagasawa) who partners with two conmen (Masahiro Higashide and Fumiyo Kohinata) to scam the wealthy out of their ill-gotten gains. In the movie, the trio takes their act to Hong Kong.

Free Stone 
“Love’s Twisting Path”

84-year-old Sadao Nakajima returns to the screen after a 20-year-gap with a film in his signature Japanese sword-fighting (chanbara) genre. Kengo Kora stars as a low-ranking samurai who ends up facing off against a horde of the Shogun’s swordsmen.

Hakuhodo DY
“My Dad Is a Heel Wrestler”
Japanese pro wrestling headliner Hiroshi Tanahashi stars as a “heel” – a wrestler who plays the bad guy in the ring. He tries, and fails, to keep his dishonorable profession a secret from his nine-year-old son. The film is heavily populated with real pro wrestlers performing breakneck routines in the ring without stunt doubles or digital assistance.

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