KITANO’S RENNAISSANCE

Source: Madman Films – Press Release/Statement:

Headline: KITANO’S RENNAISSANCE

With the release of BEYOND OUTRAGE on disc & digital platforms this month, regular Madman contributor and Twitchfilm critic Kwenton Bellette takes a look at the work of Takeshi Kitano.

 

 

Takeshi Kitano is a legend. Much like peers of his ilk, he has defined cinema and crafted his own unique auteur style through the balance of poignant, realized violence and a Zen-like pacing. He has proven himself both in the global festival circuit and at home in Japan and has garnered many accolades for his impressive body of work.

Frankly Kitano can do whatever he wants at this point, which brings us to his latest release BEYOND OUTRAGE, an alternative sequel to his already Yazuka-centric OUTRAGE. How did it come to this point that Kitano could release what seems like two very similar films in such a short timeframe? What is the point of such a move? Let’s look into the reasoning’s behind this and the catalyst for his genre driven comeback.

The beginning of a reflexive trilogy.

 

It is hard to pin down Kitano, some of his films have been released through action labels (Eastern Eye), others through auteur labels (Director’s Suite); truly a talented man that can traverse entertainment through genre and art house.

After directing his rendition of ZATOICHI, Kitano entered an extremely self-reflexive period, centering on the art and the artist. Much like what Korean director Kim Ki-duk would later do in ARIRANG, but in a substantially more entertaining way.

Kitano released a trilogy of films about himself as director, artist and his body of work. They are outstanding pieces of cinema and the most absurd of the three, TAKESHIS’, is out here on DVD. At times it plays out more like a David Lynch trip than a Kitano joint but this is certainly not a negative thing.

 

Kitano’s LOST HIGHWAY

 

This aforementioned trilogy crossed the boundaries of meta-narrative. The film TAKSHIS followed both Takeshi himself as director of his own films and another Takeshi (played by Takeshi also) a convenience store clerk. After they both have a chance encounter, both Takeshis’ get caught up in a hodge-podge narrative amalgamating Takeshi’s previous films, particularly his hardboiled Yakuza efforts and philosophical musings. This bizarre accumulation of layered stories and the absolute shattering of the fourth wall is not only high engaging, but ultimately a wonderful meditation and critique of his body of work. Fans could revel in the references and appreciate the trip through his filmography.

The other two efforts, not available in Australia used completely separate but bizarre fictions to critique the artist; he is literally a complete failure of a painter in ACHILLES AND THE TORTOISE and a struggling director in GLORY TO THE FILMMAKER! While GLORY is more slapstick with the feeling of his earlier comedic works and stand-up before he became a revered auteur, ACHILLES AND THE TORTOISE is an utterly depressing affair. It is still funny, but it basically recounts the message that artists will struggle and never get anywhere in their lives, definitely not motivational material for other creative workers out there.

 

He’s back!

 

With the palette cleansed (so to speak), Kitano returned to his pseudo-roots with a thoroughly masculine, talky and ultra-violent Yakuza hit. OUTRAGE not only proved that Kitano hasn’t gone soft, it actually pushed the limits of the crime narrative into an absurd and unforgiving territory. The film builds until an immense crescendo of violence overtakes all that has come before it.

 

 

Two years later Kitano releases his first ever sequel! Selling out? Hardly, there is nothing about BEYOND OUTRAGE that suggests anything but pure passion and dedication to the genre he loves the most. Both films are a catharsis, and given how BEYOND OUTRAGE concludes you’d be safe in assuming a third one is in the pipeline.

What is Kitano’s intention? How did he make a sequel ever more insane than the first? Upon closer inspection both films have completely different tones and pacing. Arguably, they are both an exercise to find the right way to tell a crime family’s epic tale, BEYOND OUTRAGE feels far more intelligent and thoughtfully made than its predecessor.

Although I adore both, the second is such a vast refinement that builds like a thriller until Kitano delivers a near apocalyptic level of eye-for-an-eye murder sprees. All of this feels earned and contributes greatly to this epic narrative of turf wars and also acts as a harsh critique on inane Yakuza codes, creeds and Japanese society in general.

 

Kitano’s masculine acolytes prepare for war.

 

BEYOND OUTRAGE is practically a true story, retelling the hack and slashes pieces of actual Yakuza activity, with Kitano at the center; shuffling mercilessly along, gun in hand, an utterly stark coldness in his eyes, the man is not slowing down anytime soon.

The absurdity springs from how ubiquitous, process-driven and corporate-like this organization has become. Reading into it, Beyond Outrage is far less insane than the actuality of Yakuza culture in Japan today. Despite this, the jaw-dropping finale of the film earns the title’s moniker of ‘Beyond’, and that alone is well worth another gritty trip down the grey and unforgiving but emerging underworld of Japan.

 

BEYOND OUTRAGE is out now on disc & digital. You can also find a profile on Takeshi Kitano here, along with much of his back catalogue.

The claims and opinions made in this statement are those of the release organisation and are not necessarily endorsed by, and are not necessarily those of, LonewolffilmsNZ or its owners. Also in no event shall LonewolffilmsNZ or its owners be responsible or liable, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on the above release content.

THE FAIRY TAIL GUILD WANT YOU

Source: Madman Films – Press Release/Statement:

Headline: THE FAIRY TAIL GUILD WANT YOU

To celebrate the release of Fairy Tail the Movie: Phoenix Priestess, Geek of Oz’s Ryan Huff spins us a tale of a quest you really should embark upon asap.

 

 

While it could be said that Fairy Tail is often overlooked in the shadow of the big three of Naruto, Bleach and One Piece, it absolutely deserves every scrap of attention that it gets. The manga series by Hiro Mashima (who you seriously need to be following on Twitter), and subsequent anime series tell the story of a ragtag group of wizards and their close knit guild called, you guessed it, ‘Fairy Tail’. Natsu Dragneel is the hero of the story and – much like Naruto and Luffy – is an incredibly powerful numbskull, who never shies away from a fight. He and the Fairy Tail guild embark on all manner of quests but for some reason Natsu and his pals, Lucy, Erza, Gray and Happy tend to be at the centre of every incident.

 

 Bro. If you’re cold, why don’t you try a jumper for once?

 

Fantasy anime is nothing new, but what makes Fairy Tail different is twofold: the variety of magical powers on display and the sheer scale of action. We get to see some truly epic battles as the story plays out, pitting the guild against dragon slayers, celestial wizards, ice wizards and everything in-between. In just one volume, or episode in the case of the anime series, we’ll get to know a new character or two, as well experience their own unique powers – and thankfully, they’re always pretty awesome. It’s great to see just how powerful Natsu is but eventually, in the scheme of things, you’ll always be reminded that he’s actually a very small fish in a very big pond. Other wizards such as Laxus, Gildarts and Guildmaster Makarov are always there to prove that there’s an almost infinite amount of power available in this world and for all his strength, Natsu ain’t got nothin’ on S class wizards.

 

 Such Dragon. Very Breath. Wow.

 

Like with all great shonen series, the epic story-arc spanning action sequences are punctuated with comedy and hi jinks. I.E. Natsu is a rambunctious, fiercely loyal, incredibly powerful dragon slayer but gets sick as soon as he gets on a moving vehicle; Lucy is constantly under siege from the celestial spirits who are supposed to be under her control; Gray? Well… he can’t seem to keep his clothes on. Not even the generally serious Guildmaster Makarov is safe from embarrassment!

 

 *BOOIIINNGGG*

 

Action and comedy are great, but without an expansive underlying story and some decent character development, there wouldn’t be much to keep you coming back. Luckily Fairy Tail delivers on this level too. Pretty much every character, even reasonably obscure guild members, get their time to shine in some way – whether it’s in assisting with guild missions or just hanging around in a tavern, the back stories of both protagonists and antagonists are very well realised and never feel as though they’re thrown in just for the heck of it. As an added bonus, all the characters have a distinctive look and some downright fantastic levels of detail. Sure, there are a couple of pointed wizardy hats but for the most part the characters just look awesome… though none quite as awesome as Mystogan in my opinion.

 

 I. AM. OVERBURDENED!

 

The characters are great, the action is epic and the comedy is hilarious but is the expanded Fairy Tail universe equally as immerse? Is that a leading question? Yes, yes it is! Mashima-sensei has created a universe full of magic, danger and whimsy that just seems to get bigger and more interesting at every turn. Just when you think that someone’s power is maxed out, things just get bigger and better. Oh… just wait until you meet Hades and Zeref.

 

*Room Reveal*

Whilst I am of course a die-hard fan, I think it’s a crime that this series doesn’t get the same degree of attention that One Piece does. While you’ll find One Piece merchandise just about anywhere on the internet, you’ll actually have to search a little for Fairy Tail gear which is somewhat surprising considering that it consistently features on manga best seller lists for both the English and Japanese releases. Fairy Tail would have to be one of my favourite ongoing releases, including the both manga and anime formats. Mashima-sensei’s art is almost impossibly clean and dynamic, and animation studios A-1 Pictures and Satelight do a stellar job of bringing it to the screen.

 

 I’m not sure which part of your impending death you find amusing. 

Fairy Tail is without a doubt one of the finest ongoing manga series / long running anime series out there If you want action, adventure, laughs and drama, sign up to Fairy Tail guild, STAT.

 

 

Fairy Tail the Movie: Phoenix Priestess is available now on DVD, Blu-Ray & Digital.

Fairy Tail collections 1-7 are available now on DVD, Blu-Ray & Digital.

Fairy Tail collection 8 is out Apr 16 and collection 9 out Jun 18 – on DVD, Blu-Ray & Digital.

Those of you attending Oz Comic-Con’s Perth (this weekend) & Adelaide (next weekend) shows will also have a chance to meet Todd Haberkorn – the English voice of Natsu.

The claims and opinions made in this statement are those of the release organisation and are not necessarily endorsed by, and are not necessarily those of, LonewolffilmsNZ or its owners. Also in no event shall LonewolffilmsNZ or its owners be responsible or liable, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on the above release content.

THE CONSTANT AWESOME OF ADVENTURE TIME

Source: Madman Films – Press Release/Statement:

Headline: THE CONSTANT AWESOME OF ADVENTURE TIME

In this special guest post, IGN Australia’s Senior Editor, Cam Shea, ponders his love for ADVENTURE TIME and the genius of its global fan base.

What time is it , Cam?

ADVENTURE TIME: I...(COLLECTION 2) Screenshot 4

 UHDVEMPTRR THERMB!

The last five or so years have been amazing for animated TV series’. REGULAR SHOW, ARCHER, BOB’S BURGERS, ADVENTURE TIME… the list goes on. They’re all brilliant shows in their own rights, but ADVENTURE TIME holds a particularly special place in my heart. Why? It just fizzes along with this infectious, effervescent energy and anarchic attitude. It brims with imagination, and the art direction and animation are inspired. What’s not to like?

What indeed. Chances are you’re already a fan. In fact, let’s assume you are, and don’t need any convincing. Instead of celebrating the show, let’s celebrate the fans. Even a casual Google image search turns up a treasure trove of amazing ADVENTURE TIME-related art and photos, and here are five(-ish) of my faves…

 

1)  The Creation of Lemongrab

(Credit: http://purplekecleon.tumblr.com/)

THIS ARTWORK IS… ACCEPTABLE! (Lemongrab – what a bizarrely awesome character.)

 

2) Who wants to play video games?

(Credit: http://bwitteart.blogspot.com.au/)

What more could you ask for in your cartoons than an adorably endearing anthropomorphic game machine? (Who has noir adventures on the side.)

 

3) Adventure Fiction

(Credit: http://villano.cghub.com/)

Actually, while we’re here, Pulp Fiction / Adventure Time crossovers seem pretty popular…

(Credit: http://umpaart.deviantart.com/)

Although, I guess that probably goes for any cross-over. Let’s test the waters. Adventure Time meeeeeeeets… Totoro?

(Credit: http://rismo.deviantart.com/)

BOOM! Oh my god that’s so damn good! And just the tip of the iceberg too…

Let’s try an obvious one. Adventure Time aaaaaaaaand Mario!

 (Credit: http://brunutoledo.tumblr.com/)

Oh man, I could play this game all day.

 

4) Ice King – great character, or the greatest character?

Anyway, in the hands of the community, he’s often portrayed in quite a different light…

(Credit: http://suarezart.deviantart.com/)

This guy has also done incredible Finn and Marceline illustrations so check him out at the link above.

 

5) The full ensemble.

(Credit: http://quirkilicious.deviantart.com/?rnrd=2255)

Why the hell did I only choose five? This list could have gone on forever. So many awesome characters that barely got a look in. What are your favourite pieces of Adventure Time fan-art? Or the most awesome cross-overs you’ve seen? Let us know!

Cam

You can read more of Cam’s work over at au.ign.com

Also check out the wealth of fan art over at the Madman FanZone!

The claims and opinions made in this statement are those of the release organisation and are not necessarily endorsed by, and are not necessarily those of, LonewolffilmsNZ or its owners. Also in no event shall LonewolffilmsNZ or its owners be responsible or liable, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on the above release content.

The Indeterminable Horrors of Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Source: Madman Films – Press Release/Statement:

Headline: The Indeterminable Horrors of Kiyoshi Kurosawa

With the release of Real on disc & digital platforms this month, regular Madman contributor and Twitchfilm critic Kwenton Bellette takes an important look back at the dark mind of Kiyoshi Kurosawa and his unconventional use of horror in order to understand why he has made his most accessible genre effort yet, and more importantly, how he has kept to his roots.

 

A dark minded Kurosawa ponders.

 

Madman’s Eastern Eye label are great admirers of Kiyoshi Kurosawa and a decent chunk of his best work is available here on DVD; from his early masterpiece Cure, the murder mystery Retribution and the remade zeitgeist techno horror Pulse.

Each film approaches horror in a wholly original and psychological way. This permeates and affects many in his films, but it’s his doomed and flawed protagonists, conduits for grand societal statements, that suffer the most.

 

 

In Pulse, it is the rise of communicating through technology and the subsequent disconnection from reality that literally haunts a group of divided friends and later the world as the terror proliferates.

The film is a crystal ball of sorts, and the evil depicted in the film oppresses the post-modern world much like the devices that have advanced and taken over almost every waking hour of our own lives today.

In hindsight and given our reliance on social networking and mobile applications this film is more terrifying than ever.

 

What imprints do we leave, and where?

 

 

Retribution is a more straight-forward narrative about a murder, and yet it has a twisted twinge of sadism throughout. Bringing to mind the works of David Fincher (Seven, Zodiac), we follow a grisly murder case that turns on its head when the protagonist Detective Yoshioka (Koji Yakusho) is presumed to be the murderer and begins to believe so himself as the evidence mysteriously piles up, despite having no knowledge of the victim.

 

Broken and haunted.

 

 

Cure is a straight-up masterpiece and easily one of the scariest movies to emerge from the J-horror trend other than The Ring. Utilizing a mysterious stranger who controls the elements as the protagonist, this young and charismatic man slowly makes his way around a sedate decaying Tokyo, unleashing the potential of the evil inherent in all of us.

It is hard to discuss the film without spoiling it, but Kurosawa has basically captured the very believable notion that we are all capable of doing horrific things and committing terrible acts at a moment’s notice. He defines the line that we can all cross if not driven by reason and other human mechanisms.

 

Kurosawa captures the darkness even in the most generic locations.

 

This concept of the evil and darkness in man arguably reaches its apex and scope in the stunningly damning Tokyo Sonata. Channeling Ozu but in the modern day, Kiyoshi reveals an unflinching modern Tokyo and a hapless family undergoing middle class stresses.

After the spineless patriarch of this already troubled family unit loses his job (the brilliant Teruyuki Kagawa), everything disintegrates and the ugliness behind Japan’s societal systems and pressures of expectations are explicitly revealed.

The film goes to absurd lengths to criticize Japan’s urban malaise, and it succeeds effortlessly.

 

Unemployment ignites the spark for a greater crisis.

 

 

Kurosawa’s latest film Real may be his most conventional yet; utilizing sci-fi tropes, popular actors and a straight story he delivers a reasonably simple palette of expected fare. However, despite the mainstream appeal, like his past works, that horror is there, and it strikes in the worst place possible – in the literal mind.

Koichi (Satoh Takeru) undergoes a radical experiment led by the beautiful but elusive Dr. Aihara (Miki Nakatani), the aim is to reach out and hopefully awaken his girlfriend Atsumi (Haruka Ayase) from a mysterious coma.

Reaching into her dreams and memories brings to mind (pun intended) films like Inception and even The Cell. Oddly, Kurosawa focuses little on the actual act of slipping between reality and the subconscious. The ambling conversations and muddled focus is not exactly riveting viewing. However the viewer should understand that this is the point.

Koichi becomes another victim of Kurosawa’s vicious narrative; he is another doomed, confused and broken protagonist, although this time there is perhaps a light at the end of the tunnel in Real.

The usual murky and dim aesthetic of Kurosawa’s films may have changed to a clinical white in Real, but like the bizarre terrors that interrupt the unconscious parts of the film the monsters are still there, still add to the mystery and still urge the viewer down the deep dark path Kurosawa has set out for them.

 

The horror will never really subside.

 

Real is out now on disc & digital platforms.

 

The claims and opinions made in this statement are those of the release organisation and are not necessarily endorsed by, and are not necessarily those of, LonewolffilmsNZ or its owners. Also in no event shall LonewolffilmsNZ or its owners be responsible or liable, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on the above release content.

A Cabin Boy’s Guide to One Piece

Source: Madman Films – Press Release/Statement:

Headline: A Cabin Boy’s Guide to One Piece

To celebrate the release of One Piece: Strong World, Geek of Oz’s Ryan Huff navigates the high seas of this Shonen Jump staple.

 

Unless you’ve been locked in a chest in the briny depths of the East Blue, you’ve probably heard of One Piece.  But on the off chance you’re yet to take the journey, then here – me hearties – is why you should!

The creation of manga-ka Eiichiro Oda, One Piece has gone from being a fledgling pirate series in Weekly Shonen Jump to the best selling manga series of all time and an all-encompassing media franchise. When I say all-encompassing, I mean it. You can buy One Piece toilet paper!

 

As a Tortilla, this treasure map is not very delicious.

 

The story of our hero Monkey D. Luffy and his search for the ‘One Piece’, a great treasure once held by Luffy’s idol Gold D. Roger, the King of the Pirates. As with all great manga, Luffy is a loveable screw up who is more powerful than even he realises and through his endearing qualities he amasses a rag-tag crew of fiercely loyal companions. Showing all of the hallmarks of a great shonen manga series, One Piece has somehow transcended the norm and has become nothing short of a phenomenon.

 

 

As insane as One Piece is (and it is pretty gosh darn insane), it’s the crew that makes it so enjoyable. While each story arc sees bigger and badder enemies, as well as ridiculous new powers for Luffy, it is all buoyed by the crew and their growing bonds.

The linchpin, of course, is Straw Hat Pirates captain Luffy. Generally a carefree, happy go lucky goofball of a character, he quickly turns into a fearsome combatant when he has a friend in need. His caring and trusting nature has a tendency to get him into trouble but even more so, it seems to draw people towards him.

You just can’t dislike Luffy. Throughout the entire series, which has spanned 72 tankobon (bound manga volumes) and 632 anime episodes so far, Luffy is a constant. He may get knocked down but he always gets back up. Like a cross between Captain Jack Sparrow, Mr Fantastic and Goku, he’s a super-powerful rubber swashbuckler with a heart of gold.

 

We’ve all been here, amiright?

 

The expanded crew is also fantastic with Tony Tony Chopper being a standout. This anthropomorphic blue-nosed reindeer is at the centre of some of the most touching story lines in the series. Extremely loyal and trusting to the point of gullibility, Chopper is a trained and seasoned Doctor who believes that the preservation of life is paramount. Kinda strange that he has chosen a life of piracy though, huh?!

 

Where do I see myself in 10 years??

 

Another favourite character of mine is the consummate story-teller, Usopp. Granted, when I first came across him, all I could think of was ‘soursop’, but he started to grow on me and eventually showed a side of himself that was quite emotional. Even though he’s a dorky compulsive liar, he manages to show that for all of his stories and bravado, he’s actually an incredibly caring and loyal individual.

 

It took a little while before Usopp realised he was only siphoning sea water.

 

Other crew members include the pirate/samurai Roronoa Zoro (renamed Zolo in the West due to fairly obvious copyright issues), the lecherous lead-foot of Sanji, the sassy and strong-willed Nami, cola-powered cyborg Franky, the undead Brook and the mysterious Nico Robin. All of these characters go through some form of growth throughout the series, confronted by obstacles big and small. For such a large cast, they all get an opportunity to grow and show their worth as a member of the Straw Hat Pirates.

 

 Dude, seriously. You should sit down for a sec.

 

Since first being released in 1997, Eichiro Oda’s art has, of course, improved but really not all that much because, quite frankly, it didn’t need to. His cartoony, whimsical style is a brilliant fit for the off-the-wall material that he delivers. One Piece manages to be action packed, heart wrenching, ghoulish and hilarious in a single tankobon. It’s for this reason that every single volume of the manga, and every single collection of the anime series, is so incredibly enjoyable. It’s consistently, persistently and irrepressibly fun.

 

This is called the sea dog’s salute.

 

If there’s one thing that you can take away from One Piece it’s the importance of surrounding yourself with good people who make you want to be the best person you can be through honesty, loyalty and good times.

 

The gang’s all here.

One Piece: Strong World is available now on DVD & Blu-Ray, and comes to Digital platforms Mar 5.

The One Piece (Uncut) TV series is also available now on DVD and Digital, and One Piece Manga is now available in both individual and 3-in-1 volumes. 

The claims and opinions made in this statement are those of the release organisation and are not necessarily endorsed by, and are not necessarily those of, LonewolffilmsNZ or its owners. Also in no event shall LonewolffilmsNZ or its owners be responsible or liable, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on the above release content.

Makoto Shinkai And The Fantastic Emotions of Animation

Source: Madman Films – Press Release/Statement:

Headline: Makoto Shinkai And The Fantastic Emotions of Animation

This month, guest writer Kwenton Bellette discusses the works of the talented Makoto Shinkai.

 

Makoto Shinkai in deep thought.

 

Makoto Shinkai has been a unique and prolific director of anime film since the release of his first proper OVA Voices of a Distant Star in 2003. The mainstream base of anime fandom were delighted and touched by his fascinating blend of genre and melancholy and at the time, the press deemed Shinkai an exciting new voice in anime narrative.

 

Happier times? – Voices of a Distant Star

 

Now with the release this month of his new film The Garden of Words, it has become clear that Shinkai’s ability to convey a beautiful narrative through genre convention is becoming more and more refined. Rather than focusing on the science fiction that imbued Voices of a Distant Star, or the Ghibli-esque fantasy world of Children Who Chase Lost Voices, Shinkai channels true auteurs (self-styled directors) of Japanese realism and melodrama the likes of Yasujiro Ozu with a very observant and natural approach to two strangers and their chance encounter. More than anything a strong sense of melodrama permeates each scene and yet the amount of restraint Shinkai shows is unheard of in anime. It is this approach that matters most in The Garden of Words.

 

Pouring emotions – The Garden of Words

 

It could be argued that each of his not-quite feature length films (The Garden of Words5 Centimetres per SecondVoices of a Distant Star) have been an experiment in storytelling, and while this may be the case, there is still plenty for the audience to engage and connect with.

Despite the genre or who he may or may not be channeling, Shinkai’s style is unique and evident in each of his productions. It is usually a struggle or relationship between two estranged people that is the focus. The melancholy and emotion of this scenario stems from their predicament no matter how dire, and the desire to connect; perhaps an allegory for society at large and the obsession or preoccupation with distance.

In his last production, 2011′s The Children Who Chase Lost Voices, he explores this through a haunting connection to another world where ultimately, despite the fantasy setting and quest narrative it is simply about boy meets girl. It is a more desperate state of affairs in Voices of a Distant Star though, where a long distance technology-centric relationship (texting, essentially) is impacted by a galactic space battle.

Despite the content, even looking at the actual titles of Shinkai’s films, his intentions become clear. The Garden of Words, like Children Who Chase Lost Voices and Voices of a Distant Star are both constant reminders of the disparate but ultimately connected narratives of each of his films.

 

Trust & longing – Children Who Chase Lost Voices

 

If melancholy is his paintbrush then the visuals must look and sound remarkable to match – and they do. Shinkai’s animation is unlike any other and the attention to detail and beautifully realized worlds are the result of a one-man band doing painstaking work. The same applies to the scores which Shinkai also composes himself. Each of his productions are grand works because they are solo undertakings that are not diluted from the cookie cutter input or style of others.

The Garden of Words then is Shinkai laid bare, and reduced to the core of his style. Two people trying to connect lost in melancholia and the lush visual overgrown garden where anything can grow and prosper or wither and die.

 

A moment in The Garden of Words

 

The Garden of Words is available now on DVD, Blu-Ray & Digital.

The claims and opinions made in this statement are those of the release organisation and are not necessarily endorsed by, and are not necessarily those of, LonewolffilmsNZ or its owners. Also in no event shall LonewolffilmsNZ or its owners be responsible or liable, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on the above release content.

WHEN YOU’RE STRANGE – TV ON DVD THAT CREEPS, CLAWS AND CAWS FOR YOUR ATTENTION.

Source: Madman Films – Press Release/Statement:

Headline: WHEN YOU’RE STRANGE – TV ON DVD THAT CREEPS, CLAWS AND CAWS FOR YOUR ATTENTION.

If you’ve had your fill of Americanised situation dramas, reality TV tosh or hackneyed comedies, here’s a host of TV offerings that stray from the path – offering challenging, intelligent and addictive supernatural storylines that are anything but normal.

 

THE RETURNED

THE RETURNED Screenshot 7

It took them a while, but they eventually came to terms with never again watching ‘So You Think You Can Dance?’

Also known as ‘LES REVENANTS”, this superb French thriller about a group of people from a small community who begin to return en masse to their homes and loved ones – despite having been dead for several years now – has had audiences across the globe cooing in creepy glee. As one astute Australian reviewer has already noted – see it asap, before it is remade and ruined!

 

BEDLAM

BEDLAM: Series 1 Screenshot 3

“Big Bang Theory? Bag Bing Theory? Big Bag.. Bing Big… ARGH!”

This supernatural U.K. drama series, set to the backdrop of a haunted luxury apartment complex (naturally, built on the grounds of a defunct insane asylum) offers plenty of chills, somewhat buoyed by its hot young cast and some sexed up situations. Look, it’s not rocket surgery, but if you like your frights old-school, BEDLAM offers them by the bucket load along with some seriously addictive twists & turns.

 

HELLFJORD

HELLFJORD Screenshot 6

“A case of Masterchef Neck if ever I saw one.”

After accidentally killing his police horse in front of thousands of children, Norwegian police officer, Salmander is forced to serve out a 3-month notice in  a tiny fishing community in the far north. HELLFJORD is a truly strange original – It’s a western, but it’s set in the coldest place imaginable. It uses Lovecraftian horror devices, but plays a lot of them for laughs. If you’re looking for something different, this’ll do the trick.

 

BLACK MIRROR

BLACK MIRROR  - SERIES 1 & 2 Screenshot 1

“You watch ‘The Good Wife’ and ask us why we judge?”

Charlie Brooker’s much-loved dark satire offers a series of bleak scenarios, built around a general tone of technology paranoia and a distrust of human nature. At first, these scenarios seem completely absurd, but once all’s said and done, when you parallel the outcomes with some of the events happening in the world today, they become scarily plausible.

 

DEAD SET

Another ‘what-if’ from Master Brooker. This time, the cast of the Big Brother household begin their petty popularity contest, unaware that nobody is actually watching because the zombie apocalypse has begun.

 

KOLCHAK:THE NIGHT STALKER

One of the shows that broke the mold forever for weird TV – Darren McGavin is Carl Kolchak, a newspaper reporter who knows that vampires, werewolves and other beasties really exist and has a burning desire to uncover the truth – no matter how strange.

 

THRILLER

From the pen of  Brian Clemens (THE AVENGERS / THE PROFESSIONALS), this 1973 anthology series offers stories of suspense and the supernatural, the macabre and the menacing and nail-biting tension. A great place to start for fans of THE TWILIGHT ZONE, et al.

 

The claims and opinions made in this statement are those of the release organisation and are not necessarily endorsed by, and are not necessarily those of, LonewolffilmsNZ or its owners. Also in no event shall LonewolffilmsNZ or its owners be responsible or liable, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on the above release content.

Here’s what people are saying about THE RETURNED

Source: Madman Films – Press Release/Statement:

Headline: Here’s what people are saying about THE RETURNED

In a small Alpine village in the shadow of a vast dam, a crowd of men and women find themselves in a state of confusion, trying to return to their homes. What they do not yet know is that they have been dead for several years, and no-one is expecting them back.

 

 

THE RETURNED (LES REVENANTS) has just been released on DVD here in Australia and will be released next month in New Zealand.

Here’s just some of the praise from around the world for this superbly creepy French thriller. And for that extra bit of atmospheric effect, we also include a link to its haunting accompanying soundtrack from Scottish post-rock band, Mogwai below.

 

 

 

Have you seen THE RETURNED yet? Drop by the Madman Films facebook page or Twitter feed and let us know what you think.
Own it today.

 

The claims and opinions made in this statement are those of the release organisation and are not necessarily endorsed by, and are not necessarily those of, LonewolffilmsNZ or its owners. Also in no event shall LonewolffilmsNZ or its owners be responsible or liable, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on the above release content.

THE ACT OF KILLING, THE GATEKEEPERS AND MORE MUST-SEE DOCUMENTARIES

Source: Madman Films – Press Release/Statement:

Headline: THE ACT OF KILLING, THE GATEKEEPERS AND MORE MUST-SEE DOCUMENTARIES

This month, we release THE ACT OF KILLING and THE GATEKEEPERS to DVD & digital – two documentaries that lift the lid on controversial world events in differing, yet equally crucial ways.

Here we explore what we feel makes these documentaries particularly important, along with some other must-see recommendations from our back-catalogue.

THE ACT OF KILLING

This image will haunt these men until the end of their lives.

THE ACT OF KILLING is Joshua Oppenheimer’s account of the horrifying pro-regime paramilitary blitz in Indonesia in the 1960s – where more than a million alleged Communists, ethnic Chinese and intellectuals were rounded up for interrogation… or to be more precise, tortured and murdered.

Oppenheimer uses inventive techniques to explore his subjects, the events they were involved in and, from an outsider’s perspective, the incomprehensible pride they seem to take in their actions. Instead of building his argument via more traditional documentary storytelling, Joshua simply put the direction of the film into the hands of the subjects – asking them to explain to us, through any creative means or expression they felt relevant, why what they did was so valiant.

The result is a bizarre, and occasionally, darkly funny in an absurd way. But it is primarily a frequently gut-wrenching experience, where you slowly begin to see the cocksure, faux-Hollywood tough guy facades of Anwar and co. peel away, eventually revealing a hair-raising admission of guilt that the viewer will never forget.

The final result is a challenging watch, but an undeniably important one for anyone with an interest in both human rights or documentaries / the documentary-making process.

 

THE GATEKEEPERS

They are not discussing a birthday party.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is deeply complex, though in Dror Moreh’s THE GATEKEEPERS, everything is laid bare in a concise timeline as six former heads of Shin Bet – Israel’s secret service – share their insight into the ‘problem’ as they have experienced it during their tenure… and therein lies most incredible feat of this documentary.

These are men who held astonishing power and were responsible for crucial life or death decisions – often under a shroud of secrecy and against a volatile backdrop. They are not men you just call up and ask to speak with. In fact, if you did, you may wake up the next day with a hood on your head in a room that smells of damp. Yet, incredibly, this is exactly what Dror Moreh did.

The interviews here are disarmingly, and occasionally shockingly frank – “yes, we bombed the wrong building”, “yes, we knew innocents would be killed, but it was necessary”. While most still maintain the necessity of their actions, and a sense of pride about their achievements, many of which have been forgotten they often admit to the futility of the conflict.

An essential document to one of the most misunderstood complex issues of the 20th century.

 

 

Hungry for more knowledge? Here’s some more suggestions from our catalogue:

 

BLACKFISH (Coming to DVD & digital, March 21)

Think twice about theme parks.

 

HOW TO MAKE MONEY SELLING DRUGS (Coming to DVD & digital, March 19)

In ten easy steps.

 

CHASING ICE

Hi Tony, pls watch. Thx.

 

SILENCE IN THE HOUSE OF GOD: MEA MAXIMA CULPA

Shame. Forever, shame.

 

THE HOUSE I LIVE IN

The war on drugs has never been about drugs.

 

HELL AND BACK AGAIN

Is life after war ever the same?

 

PAGE ONE: INSIDE THE NEW YORK TIMES

The media landscape has changed forever.

 

THE COVE

Straight-up slaughter. No two ways about it.

 

 

The claims and opinions made in this statement are those of the release organisation and are not necessarily endorsed by, and are not necessarily those of, LonewolffilmsNZ or its owners. Also in no event shall LonewolffilmsNZ or its owners be responsible or liable, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on the above release content.

INTERVIEW WITH WOLF CHILDREN DIRECTOR MAMORU HOSODA

Source: Madman Films – Press Release/Statement:

Headline: INTERVIEW WITH WOLF CHILDREN DIRECTOR MAMORU HOSODA

In April 2012, Mamoru Hosoda visited Australia to appear at special screenings of his latest acclaimed animated feature, WOLF CHILDREN.

Ryan Huff, of Geek of Oz and STACK Magazine sat down with Hosoda-san to discuss his work and career.

Ryan: First of all, welcome to Australia.

Hosoda: I’m very honoured to have been invited.

 

R: Everyone has been excited for Wolf Children following your previous films Summer Wars and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. When I reviewed Wolf Children I said that it was the most beautiful film I’d seen in years. How has the reaction been throughout Australia?

H: I got to see the film with an Australian audience last night. There were a whole lot of kids and they seemed to love it so I was pleased. The impression I got was that the audience reacted quite earnestly to the film, from little children to elderly people.

 

R: You say that people were very earnest and had their own opinion of the film but what is the story that you’re trying to tell?

H: When I started Wolf Children, I wanted to outline parenthood, more specifically the point where the relationship starts and where it ends. For me, I believe that a parents job is finished when their children become independent. The children then have an opportunity to use what they’ve learned. Unlike my previous films, where the entire story unfolds within 3 days, the passing of time in this story is stretched out over 13 years. It was necessary to show everything that a parent does for their children. It’s not very conventional in that way.

 

R: Talking about the passage of time, although The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is all about time travel, we haven’t really seen time as a focus from you previously. Is it difficult to tackle an abstract premise?

H: I merely wanted to tell a story about something that went for longer than 3 days. By doing so “time” naturally became a focus for the film. In a sense, if you wanted to depict a mothers love for a child, you wouldn’t have to capture such a broad timeframe. However, if you want to specifically capture all of the things that a mother actually does for a child, time will then inevitably become a focus.

 

R: I’ve watched the film 5 or 6 times now, and with different people. Each time I’ve found that everyone seems to take away something different from the film. Do you find that a particular demographic is affected more than others?

H: Wow! That’s great to know. Thank you very much! Each person will be affected and respond differently to this film. Those who are parents, or those who wish to be or never were will have a different take on the story. Even I have a different relationship with the project. My response is based upon peoples reactions to the film and not the film itself. All of my films have a ubiquitous quality about them, elements that everyone can relate to. I believe that is why they are so approachable and I’m thankful that people enjoy them.

 

R: After working on the film for years and viewing it countless times, does the film affect you in a particular way? Perhaps in a way that other audience members miss?

H: When you’re making a film you’re involved in every step so you don’t really see it as a whole, but what I do get to see is how audiences react to it so it’s not really until this point that I learn about the impact of what I’ve made. When I was making the film my perspective was that I was listening to the Mother’s story, that of Hana. Now that it’s finished and I’ve seen how audiences have responded, I’ve realised that the film has a broader message than that. But I never really know how the story will resonate until the audience, people who all lead very different lives, respond to the film.

 

R: You said that you learn from the audience but why is it that you make films? Do you make a film for the audience of for yourself first and foremost?

H: There’s a kind of filmmaking where the inner-world is expressed and there’s nothing wrong with that. However I see my works like public infrastructure or public service. It’s not until a film is packaged and released and watched by an audience that it’s truly complete.

 

 

R: This is something that seems to come up all too frequently but how do you feel when people compare you to Miyazaki-san?

H: I get that a lot both inside and outside of Japan *laughs*! People say “are you going to make pictures like Mr Miyazaki?” and while I have great admiration for his work, I think he should make Miyazaki pictures and I should make my own works as well.

 

R: What about awards? What does it mean as a filmmaker to win Japanese Academy Awards?

H: With the first film, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, there was only 14 prints so it only had a narrow release but when it started winning awards more prints were made. In that respect, I’m grateful for the exposure that awards can offer to my work. I feel as though I was very lucky there because it was such a small film but still won so many awards. Winning awards is great but what’s even better is the broader audience that the films are exposed to. I make my films like somewhat of a public project so having the film as a part of someone’s life is the best. I don’t really look at demographics when I make a film. I’d rather make a film that will call out to a broad audience, making it as broad and as general as possible. Therein lays the possibility of film.

 

R: Your films in particular contain so much heart and the characterisation held within. Do you think that a well told story told from the heart is universal?

H: The stories that I tell tend to have a ubiquitous and mundane setting and I think that it is these settings and the way that they are told that seems to make them enjoyable by a broad range of people.

 

R: And what’s next for Mr Hosoda?

H: I want to make a film that is fun for everyone. I just want to have fun with everyone through film.

 

Wolf Children along with Summer Wars and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time are available now on disc and digital platforms.

The claims and opinions made in this statement are those of the release organisation and are not necessarily endorsed by, and are not necessarily those of, LonewolffilmsNZ or its owners. Also in no event shall LonewolffilmsNZ or its owners be responsible or liable, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on the above release content.