Brace yourself Vancouver, superstar Ai Hashimoto is coming to town

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      An entourage and camera crew will accompany actor-model-megastar Ai Hashimoto and filmmaker Ryuichi Hiroki when they arrive in Vancouver for the world premiere of It’s Boring Here, Pick Me Up at International Village on Tuesday (October 9).

      The Vancouver International Film Festival has called a media conference and red carpet for the event. Organizers will no doubt brace for the kind of mayhem that descended when Japanese actors/pop idols Tsumabuki Satoshi and Kamenashi Kazuya attended the premiere of The Vancouver Asahi in 2014.

      Ai Hashimoto is an enormous star in her home country—the “Kristen Stewart of Japan” as one VIFF insider put it to the Straight—and It’s Boring Here, Pick Me Up is destined to become one of the key titles in her career.

      Adapted from Yamauchi Mariko's cult novel, the elliptical movie casts Hashimoto in the key role of "I", a journalist returning to her hometown intent on discovering whatever became of charismatic cool-kid Shiina.

      Director Hiroki cross-hatches periods and character perspectives in the anything-but-boring film, praised by the Straight’s Ken Eisner as “a nervy little item [that] plays like it was made by a millennial female who takes no shit.”

      But Hashimoto is its focus; a melancholy presence in a film that understands the bittersweetness of leaving youth and all of its giddy promises behind. 

      With the help of a translator, the Georgia Straight had the chance to speak briefly with Ai Hashimoto from Tokyo.

      Georgia Straight: Why did you want to do this movie?
      Ai Hashimoto: I already liked the book and I had been wanting to work with Mr. Hiroki for a while as I liked his works.

      So you were you familiar with the films of director Ryuichi Hiroki? ​
      Yes. I like his work very much especially because it is realistic; he makes scenes less dramatic, as much as possible, so that audience can feel the sense of daily lives from the screen. I think you can feel his sense as an author from this movie too. ​

      What do you think It's Boring Here is really about? ​
      “Precious past is gone by and there is nothing we can do to stop the flow of time; nonetheless, we live our lives with enormous efforts.” This is what I felt. ​

      Did you read the book, and if so did you think it was possible to turn it into a movie? ​
      The idea didn’t occur to me while I was reading the book when the first edition was published. This is because I always bury myself into a story of a book while reading, and do not think whether this book could be turned into a movie or not.  ​

      How important or popular is the book in Japan? ​
      This was the kind of book that everybody read around me. I think especially those who were familiar with culture showed a deep interest in the book. ​

      In what ways do you relate to the character of “I”?
      I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to reach into the true character of “I” for she and I have six years age difference. The circumstances and the relationship of her hometown to the capital, Tokyo, were totally different from mine, but I had a feeling that I was standing right next to her as her life could be, or could have been mine.

      Can you please describe your working relationship with Ryuichi Hiroki? For instance, did he allow much collaboration? ​
      He was the kind of director who trusts the actors and basically leave them be. But on the scenes with long uncut shoot, I recall, he directed us like a piano tuner. ​

      Did it concern you that a man in his 60s could make a movie told from such a young, female perspective? ​
      I certainly had a notion that it could be directed by a female, but I think that it has become a film with a sober gaze from a comfortable distance, just because this was directed by a much older male. ​

      Are you comfortable with your fame in Japan? ​
      I don’t know if it is something I could get used to, but I don’t care. ​I don’t pay too much attention to it. 

      Have you visited Vancouver before? 
      No, I’ve never been before. I did not know much about Vancouver but I am interested to see the wilderness and the aquarium. ​

      Readers of the book will understand this question: have you seen Breakfast at Tiffany’s? ​
      Yes, I have, and have deeply identified with and been attracted to the many faces of a woman acted by Audrey Hepburn. ​

      Beyond that, who is your acting idol and why? ​
      Yes, I have many. Most greatly Ms. Kiki Kirin whom I will hold in my heart forever. There are too many reasons to point out why, but if I pick one of them, it's the living energy that shines from her on the screen. Whenever I remember her, my soul is always inspired as an actress as well as a human being.