Canadian Theatrical News: The Boy and the Beast, Belladonna of Sadness, but no Project Itoh: The Empire of Corpses

I could rant about availability issues that arise when a distributor buys global rights to a library of content despite only operating in five countries. I’ll instead talk about some movies you can (and can’t) check out at your local theatres.

First up is an update on Mamoru Hosoda’s The Boy & The Beast.

“Beast” is a coming-of-age tale about Kyuta, a lonely Japanese boy living in Shibuya and Kumatetsu, a lonesome beast inhabiting Jutengai, an imaginary world. One day, Kyuta forays into the imaginary world and, as he’s looking for his way back, meets Kumatetsu who becomes his guide and friend. That chance encounter leads them to many adventures filled with fantasy and action.

You’ll remember that in our last update, The Boy and the Beast was revealed to be in an odd situation. Rather than sharing the same distributor between Canada and the United States, like most anime, Toronto-based Mongrel Media has taken the helm for the Canadian release. Funimation distributed the film in the US, and it had its limited theatrical run in February. Zannen, Canada‘s Jesse Betteridge has since learned that our May 27th release will only be in “select theatres,” in addition to its on-demand availability. Mongrel has yet to confirm whether the film will be released with Funimation’s English dub. Given their site, their trailer, and Cineplex’s page ignore the existence of an English dub, things aren’t looking great for those wanting to see that version on the big screen.

Just an aside before we get onto the next movie, but the trailer above? It got copyright claimed on Youtube. Good job, Google!

The next film’s trailer is definitely deserving of its red band label. Viewer discretion is advised? Watching while impaired may be ill-advised. Then again, watching while unimpaired might make you feel impaired. Basically, you’ve been warned.

BELLADONNA OF SADNESS (KANASHIMI NO BELLADONNA) – Animation, 1973, Cinelicious Pics, 86 min., Japan. One of the great lost masterpieces of Japanese animation, never before officially released in the U.S., BELLADONNA OF SADNESS is a mad, swirling, psychedelic light-show of medieval tarot-card imagery with horned demons, haunted forests and La Belle Dame Sans Merci, equal parts J.R.R. Tolkien and gorgeous, explicit Gustav Klimt-influenced eroticism. The last film in the adult-themed Animerama trilogy produced by the godfather of Japanese anime & manga, Osamu Tezuka and directed by his long time collaborator Eiichi Yamamoto (“ASTRO BOY” and “KIMBA THE WHITE LION”), BELLADONNA unfolds as a series of spectacular still watercolor paintings that bleed and twist together. An innocent young woman, Jeanne (voiced by Aiko Nagayama) is violently raped by the local lord on her wedding night. To take revenge, she makes a pact with the Devil himself (voiced by Tatsuya Nakadai, from Akira Kurosawa’s RAN) who appears as an erotic sprite and transforms her into a black-robed vision of madness and desire.

Extremely transgressive and not for the easily offended, BELLADONNA is fueled by a mindblowing Japanese psych rock soundtrack by noted avant-garde jazz composer Masahiko Satoh. The film has been newly restored by Cinelicious Pics using the original 35mm camera negative and sound elements – and including over 8 minutes of surreal and explicit footage cut from the negative. On par with Rene Laloux’s FANTASTIC PLANET and Ralph Bakshi’s WIZARDS as an LSD-stoked 1970s head trip, BELLADONNA marks a major rediscovery for animation fans. If Led Zeppelin had a favorite film, this would be it. In other words, Stairway to Hell. (In Japanese with English subtitles.)

You can’t say I didn’t warn you.

Belladonna of Sadness is currently only set for release on two Canadian screens:
The Royal Cinema – Toronto, Ontario (May 20-22nd & June 2, 2016)
The Mayfair Theatre – Ottawa, Ontario (May 25th & 26th, 2016)

If you happen to live outside of Southern Ontario and are interested, it might be worth your while to contact your local art house/independent cinema. Cinelicious is keeping track of venues showing the movie here.

I’m sure neither will be hurt by that tiny anime convention taking place in Toronto in the last weekend of May. Fine, Belladonna is probably not appealing to the majority of con goers, but still.

So far this post has showcased two movies you will be able to check out on the big screen, but I’ve got one you won’t. Funimation is set to release the first Project Itoh film, The Empire of Corpses, in select US theatres on April 19th and 20th. Unlike most of Funimation’s other theatrical launches, it won’t be screened in Canada. The company plans on releasing the second Project Itoh film, Harmony, in the US next month. Funimation hasn’t confirmed if that film will also have its theatrical screenings limited to the US, but given the trailer region-blocks Canadian IPs, I wouldn’t hold out hope. It’s a shame too, since they look like good movies.

If you don’t feel like going to a theatre, you can catch the first Pokémon movie on Teletoon on April 23rd at 10AM EST. Maybe someone at Corus gazed into the future … or they just want nostalgia views.

  1. The Boy and the Beast is now playing at the TIFF Kids film fest.

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