films seen
15
average score
3.03*
nationality
Japan - 56 years old
status
Alive and kicking
more info

A versatile and unique director who regularly alternates between drama, crime and thriller. Aoyama's style is difficult to capture in a few words, except that the quality of his work is pretty consistent. A hidden gem of Japanese cinema.

The good stuff

Eli, Eli, Lema Sabachthani?

by Shinji Aoyama
Also known as
Eri Eri Rema Sabakutani
Specifics
Japan [2005] - 107m
Genre
Sci-fi, Music
More info on
rating
4.0*/5.0*
toplist position
Eli, Eli, Lema Sabachthani? poster

A very odd Aoyama feature. Part sci-fi, part music film, part drama. It's a full-on arthouse project though, so expect a very deliberate and slow film that isn't too interested in presenting a clear-cut narrative or enjoyable characters. Instead, we're getting harsh noize concerts and tragic cyphers who hardly open up during the course of the film. This won't be everybody's cup of tea, it's by far my favorite Aoyama film, with great performances by Asano and Miyazaki, a superb score and neat cinematography.

Solid pieces

Sad Vacation

by Shinji Aoyama
Specifics
Japan [2007] - 136m
Genre
Drama
More info on
rating
3.5*/5.0*
Sad Vacation poster

Lakeside Murder Case

by Shinji Aoyama
Also known as
Reikusaido Mada Kesu
Specifics
Japan [2004] - 118m
Genre
Mystery
More info on
rating
3.5*/5.0*
Lakeside Murder Case poster

Mike Yokohama: A Forest with No Name

by Shinji Aoyama
Also known as
Siritsutantei Hama Maiku: Namae no Nai Mori
Specifics
Japan [2002] - 71m
Genre
Crime
More info on
rating
3.5*/5.0*
Mike Yokohama: A Forest with No Name poster

Eureka

by Shinji Aoyama
Also known as
Yûrika
Specifics
Japan, France [2000] - 217m
Genre
Drama
More info on
rating
3.5*/5.0*
Eureka poster

An Obsession

by Shinji Aoyama
Also known as
Tsumetai Chi
Specifics
Japan [1997] - 109m
Genre
Drama, Crime
More info on
rating
3.5*/5.0*
An Obsession poster

Wild Life

by Shinji Aoyama
Specifics
Japan [1997] - 102m
Genre
Comedy, Thriller
More info on
rating
3.5*/5.0*
Wild Life poster

Helpless

by Shinji Aoyama
Specifics
Japan [1996] - 80m
Genre
Crime
More info on
rating
3.5*/5.0*
Helpless poster

The inoffensive

Dog-Eat-Dog

by Shinji Aoyama
Also known as
Tomogui
Specifics
Japan [2013] - 102m
Genre
Drama
More info on
rating
3.0*/5.0*
Dog-Eat-Dog poster

Desert Moon

by Shinji Aoyama
Also known as
Tsuki no Sabaku
Specifics
Japan [2001] - 131m
Genre
Drama
More info on
rating
3.0*/5.0*
Desert Moon poster

A Cop, a Bitch and a Killer

by Shinji Aoyama
Also known as
Waga Mune Ni Kyoki Ari
Specifics
Japan [1996] - 92m
Genre
Action, Crime
More info on
rating
3.0*/5.0*
A Cop, a Bitch and a Killer poster

Chinpira: Two Punks

by Shinji Aoyama
Specifics
Japan [1996] - 101m
Genre
Drama, Crime
More info on
rating
3.0*/5.0*
Chinpira: Two Punks poster

Worthy but flawed

Tokyo Park

by Shinji Aoyama
Also known as
Tokyo Kouen
Specifics
Japan [2011] - 119m
Genre
Drama
More info on
rating
2.5*/5.0*
Tokyo Park poster

Plain forgettable

To the Backstreet: The Films Kenji Nakagami Left Out

by Shinji Aoyama
Also known as
Roji E: Nakagami Kenji no Nokoshita Firumu
Specifics
Japan [2001] - 64m
Genre
Documentary
More info on
rating
1.5*/5.0*
To the Backstreet: The Films Kenji Nakagami Left Out poster

Director Shinji Aoyama isn't really known for making documentaries, To the Backstreet gives us a little insight as to why that may be. Though he tried his hand at a few around the turn of the century, he just as soon abandoned the format. My guess is that they were deemed a bit too hermetic to do its subjects justice, at least that's my take after watching this film.

Not knowing anything about Kenji Nakagami (a famous writer) is a real hindrance, as Aoyama isn't interested in the least to give any kind of context. The film starts with a 10-minute car ride through a mountainous region in Japan, mostly spent in silence with the driver. It takes a while before you realize Aoyama is stitching together footage from Nakagami's personal archive with his own, discovering the region where he grew up.

In between there are segments of Nakagami's literature being read aloud. And that's about it really. Fans of Nakagami may get something out of it, at the very least it's a decent look at the Japanese countryside, but I was glad this documentary was just 60 minutes long. Only for true Nakagami insiders, others may be better served reading the man's Wikipedia page.

Big nopes

Shady Grove

by Shinji Aoyama
Also known as
Sheidî Gurôvu
Specifics
Japan [1999] - 99m
Genre
Drama, Romance
More info on
rating
1.0*/5.0*
Shady Grove poster