KARIYUSHI IN AUGUST (2003, Japan, titled "Hachigatsu no Kariyushi") Directed by Iwao Takahashi
Japanese Region 2 NTSC DVD review
Gentle ghost story shot on location in Okinawa and starring the leading man from Gohatto
The main reason I'm including this film is because there's so little written about it in english, anywhere on the net. It's not even on IMDB.
Kariyushi In August has a very slight plot, but is a nicely observed story of a young man visiting relatives in southern Japan on the island of Okinawa. As he meanders around, visiting old haunts and hearing local music, old memories return of his childhood there and he uncovers a terrible old family secret...
Shot on location, the film gives a very different view of Japan that we normally see. This is a hot, lush location by the sea, far away from the big cities. Time has moved on slowly here, and memories of the war are not as faint.
The main interest here is the leading actor, Ryuhei Matsuda, aged only 20. His career in acting started with the brave leading role in Gohatto (a.k.a. Taboo), a period film about a gay samurai. More recently he's appeared in 9 Souls, Nana, Rampo Jigoku, Otakus In Love, and Takashi Miike's Izo. His mother, Miyuki Matsuda, is also an actor and she appeared in Miike's infamous Audition. His father was a famous actor, Yusaku Matsuda, whose last film was Ridley Scott's Black Rain.
The Japanese DVD unfortunately has no english subtitles, but has a trailer and a making of programme included. Beind-the-scenes footage indicate that the feature was made on High Definition video, but I hadn't guessed that from seeing the film.