Mr Pink meets Peach Hip Girl

The films of Japan's 'post-Tarantino' generation come to British cinemas
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The Independent Culture

It was Japan's leading film journal, Kinema Junpo, that first dubbed a number of young Japanese film-makers as "post-Tarantino directors". Junko Takekawa, of the Japan Foundation in London, comments: "Japanese cinema in the 1990s was marked by the clear emergence of a generation of master film-makers who have since found their way in international cinema.

It was Japan's leading film journal, Kinema Junpo, that first dubbed a number of young Japanese film-makers as "post-Tarantino directors". Junko Takekawa, of the Japan Foundation in London, comments: "Japanese cinema in the 1990s was marked by the clear emergence of a generation of master film-makers who have since found their way in international cinema.

"They include Shinji Aoyama, Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Nobuhiro Suwa. But the next generation has yet to emerge. This absence of a cohesive new generation has become a focus of debate in Japanese film circles, and one proposal is that what has emerged is the 'post-Tarantino' generation."

The Japanese Film After Mr Pink season at the ICA in London has chosen a mixture of rites-of-passage dramas, road movies and Kafkaesque nightmares to showcase the directors' work. "We want to promote as many young Japanese directors as possible and expand Japanese film audiences," Takekawa says. "The connection to Tarantino instantly links audiences - who might otherwise see Japanese film as unfamiliar - to a common theme."

The films to be screened include The Loved Gun (2004), from the actor-director Kensaku Watanabe, about a hit man who hooks up with a young, orphaned girl; even the bullets in the film change colour to match the emotions of the shooter. Monday (2000) is a black comedy by the cult director Sabu (Hiroyuki Tanaka) about a salaryman who wakes up in a hotel room unable to remember how he got there; his memory comes back to him in fragmented flashes of gruesome funerals and dead bodies. Blue Spring (2001) is based on a manga by Taiyo Matsumoto and directed by a former speed-chess prodigy, Toshiaki Toyoda. It's a film about a gang of students who play a death-defying game of Truth or Dare.

Wild Life is directed by Shinji Aoyama, who had a taste of international recognition when his three-hour Eureka was selected for competition in the 2001 Cannes Film Festival. Adrenaline Drive (1999), directed by Yaguchi Shinobu, is a comedy-come-chase movie.

One film sure to conjure up Tarantino is the highly stylised debut from the former animator Katsuhito Ishii, Shark Skin Man and Peach Hip Girl (1998) - his comic-book visuals were used for the anime chapter in Kill Bill Vol 1. Ishii in turn draws on Tarantino's True Romance and Natural Born Killers for his tale of a man on the run from his boss (played by Tadanobu Asano, a superstar in Japan) who meets the Peach Hip Girl as she flees her sinister uncle.

Japanese Film After Mr Pink, ICA, London SW1 (020-7930 3647; www.ica.org.uk) 5 to 11 February; Cornerhouse, Manchester (0161-200 1500) to 3 Feb; Watershed, Bristol (0117-927 5100) 12 to 17 Feb; Showroom Cinema, Sheffield (0114-275 7727) 19 to 24 Feb

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