The Cowards Who Looked to the Sky

Based on the award-winning novel of the same name, this boldly erotic yet movingly tender portrait of a group of vulnerable, variously wounded people — a depressed housewife, her high-school-aged lover, and his best friend, who is struggling to provide for himself and his senile grandmother — whose intersecting lives yield both sorrow and a fragile, yet enduring, hope for a brighter future. (TIFF)

Hard Romanticker

Writer-director Gu Su-yeon’s new film draws on his own semiautobiographical account of growing up as a delinquent zainichi Korean (Japanese-born, but of Korean ancestry) in the seaside city of Shimonoseki in Yamaguchi Prefecture, a working-class hellhole overflowing with sex and fury. Day after day, (fictional) Gu finds fresh foes and makes the local hoodlums want to kick his ass. While working multiple dead-end part-time jobs, he cruises around town on his scooter in search of gangland trouble: leaping across rooftops with irate hordes of punks in hot pursuit, running off with a fetching belle in a sailor suit, rescuing a schoolgirl from being gang-raped at a glue-sniffing orgy…

Straw Shield

Ninagawa is a powerful man in Japanese politics and with top economic connections.His granddaughter is then murdered. The suspect is Kunihide Kiyomaru (Tatsuya Fujiwara). Kunihide Kiyomaru has a prior conviction for assaulting and killing a girl 8 years ago. The police could never apprehend the suspect in the prior killing.