Japan’s Venice Hopefuls

13 Assassins

Japan has a couple of strong contenders in the running for this year’s Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival, as the lineup for the competition was announced yesterday. “Noruwei no Mori” (Norwegian Wood), the first ever adaptation of Murakami Haruki’s cult novel, is the high-profile choice. With Vietnamese-born French director Tran Anh Hung at the helm, it stars two of Japan’s most highly rated young actors in Matsuyama Kenichi (24) and Oscar nominee Kikuchi Rinko (28).

It will be up against the latest movie from popular director Miike Takashi. “13-nin no Shikaku” (13 Assassins) stars the always solid Yakusho Koji (54) and is a remake of a 1963 samurai drama that is famous for its 30-minute climactic fight scene. The chambara style of movie (even with its weird choice of “Desperado” by The Eagles as its theme tune) might have an edge with a festival jury that is headed by American director Quentin Tarantino.

2010 marks the 67th year of the Venice event, the oldest film festival in the world. To date there have been three Japanese winners of the grand prix: Kurosawa Akira‘s “Rashomon” (1951), Inagaki Hiroshi’s “Rickshaw Man” (1958), and Kitano Takeshi‘s “Hanabi” (1997).
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