Third Window Films, the English-speaking world's most well-respected distributors of comtemporary and modern Asian films on home video, has had a rough year, but they are revved-up and ready to go with a 2018 slate of releases that looks out of this world!
Over the first 6 months of 2018 Third Window Films have lined up five releases that aim to continue their hot streak of providing western audiences with the best in modern Japanese cinema. New films from Screen Anarchy favorites Sono Sion and Uchida Eiji are joined by contemporary classics from Japanese rebel master Sabu and TWF's debut animated releases from Tezuka Osamu's Animerama (Belladonna of Sadness) as Third Window enters their 13th year.
Check out additional info and scheduling info for these upcoming releases in the gallery below
Starting the year in March at Third Window Films is Uchida Eiji's Love and Other Cults, a TWF production and Uchida's follow-up to Lowlife Love from a couple of years ago. Ard Vijn saw the film last month at Camera Japan in The Netherlands and had this to say:
The terms "black comedy" and "drama" don't quite cut it, though there is plenty of both in it. In this it is quite like Uchida's earlier film Lowlife Love. Both films are interesting but do require an appetite for a certain weird flavor. Maybe Uchida Eiji is building his very own niche-genre?
Love and Other Cults will be a dual format release
April is Sono Sion month at Third Window Films!
First up is a double feature of Sono's avant-garde The Whispering Star, an experimental science fiction film that played at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2015. The film will be paired with Oshima Arata's (son of legendary filmmaker Oshima Nagisa) documentary The Sion Sono, which focuses on Japan's enfant terrible filmed during the production of The Whispering Star. Kurt Halfyard saw The Whispering Star at Toronto and had this to say:
One might describe The Whispering Star as deliberately paced - or simply as very, very slow - but the pacing is leavened to a great degree by a quiet sense of humor and playfully anachronistic set design which may very well be a deliberate nod to the work of Cory McAbee (The American Astronaut, Stingray Sam). Despite the very limited scale of the set Sono keeps things visually engaging with his creative camera work and gorgeous black and white cinematography... for those who are already in the Sono club this is a worthy curio to seek out.
The Whispering Star will be a dual format release
Also coming in April is Sono's entry into the revitalized Nikkatsu Roman Porno Reboot series, Antiporno.
The film has been making the festival rounds for the last year and has gotten fairly good notices all around. While we haven't reviewed it on these pages (curiously), our own James Marsh reviewed the film at the South China Morning Post:
Sono's Effort is easily the most ambitious entry yet in the series of re-imagined softcore entertainments. Not only does it challenge gender roles within the Japanese film industry - and in the country as a whole - but the film also attempts to deconstruct cinema as a voyeuristic narrative medium.
Veteran Sono performer (Tag, The Virgin Psychics) Tomite Ami (ex-AKB48) stars in the film, which sounds fascinating and well worth checking out.
In May comes the double feature release of Animerama's A Thousand and One Nights and Cleopatra. These two features were part of a trilogy that involved the short lived collaboration between Astroboy creator, Tezuka Osamu, and Yamamto Eiichi. The first of the trilogy to see the light of day in recent years was 1973's Belladonna of Sadness, a decidedly trippy feature that was a huge arthouse hit in 2016 following Cinelicious Pics' amazing restoration and 4K presentation tour.
A Thousand and One Nights (1969) and Cleopatra (1970) were actually the first two films in the series and have rarely been seen outside of Japan until the last few months. This will mark their English friendly Blu-ray debut. A Thousand and One Nights was directed by Belladonna director, Yamamoto Eiichi, while Cleopatra was co-directed by Tezuka and Yamamoto. While Belladonna of Sadness had a very distinct watercolor style, the other two fall more in line with traditional anime of the time, only a lot edgier with more sex and adult humor.
This is a very exciting release after the success of Belladonna of Sadness, and I can't wait to get my hands on it.
A Thousand and One Nights and Cleopatra will be a Blu-ray only release.
Last up, coming this summer is the world Blu-ray debut of legendary director Sabu's cult '90s film, Dangan Runner (retitled Non-Stop for the US market).
A few years back the film was part of a Sabu series at the Japan Society, and was previewed by Peter Gutierrez:
Non-Stop introduces us to the idea of the epic chase-and-pursuit, here literalized to the point of giddy absurdity... Indeed, when Non-Stop works best, its crime elements and deadpan humor combine to create a tone that feels like an unholy alliance of two French masters, Melville and Tati.
Dangan Runner will be a Blu-ray only release