Japanese Journals - General

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Re: Japanese Journals - General

Postby arsaib4 » Sun Dec 25, 2005 6:28 am

"…this is the one true Godzilla film that was bastardised for release in the US."

That's putting it mildly. :(

Re: Japanese Journals - General

Postby hengcs » Tue Jan 10, 2006 2:00 am

Train Man (Densha Otoko) (2005) (Japan)

Director: Masanori Murakami
Cast: Takayuki Yamada, Miki Nakatani

Believe it or not, it is based on the TRUE LIFE romance of a geeky young man and a beautiful young lady! It was first written into a best selling book, "Train Man", from actual messages posted on the internet discussion board in Japan! A million internet users advised the man on his courtship ... Expectedly, it was made into a TV series (of 12 episodes) and became a hit ... Like it or not, a movie had to be made ... BUT with a DIFFERENT cast ...

My thoughts
-- Personally, I thought the TV version is much better
... probably because they have more time to develop the story ...
... probably because I like the TV cast better ...
... probably because there is more development about the family and supporting cast ...
-- However, if you are only keen on knowing what happens to the two of them, the film does provide a simple narration of it ...

Can watch ... at least be happy for them ...

the TV version, however, is much better ...

Re: Japanese Journals - General

Postby trevor826 » Sun Jan 15, 2006 4:34 pm

Ping Pong (2002)

Directed by Fumihiko Sori

Starring Arata (After Life, Distance), Ysuke Kubozuka (Laundry)

Not a huge amount I can say about this as it's pretty formulaic and is ripe for a Hollywood make-over.

A feelgood lightweight comedic story about the value of friendship and a common love, ping pong.

The story adapted from a manga traces the friendship and competitiveness of Peco (Ysuke Kubozuka) and Smile (Arata) from youngsters, where Smile is rescued from a gang of bullies by Peco, through high school to a competition where they (predictably) end up in the final playing against each other.

Peco is abrasive and chopsy, hes very good at table tennis, good enough to trounce anyone who dares to play him. Smile came to start playing through their friendship, quiet and subdued he is the opposite of Peco, he also has something Peco doesn't, a natural though underused talent for the game.

Despite his talent and the fact that he's good at psyching out his oppostion, Peco surprisingly loses two matches, he hits a depressive spell, abandons table tennis and just spends his time feeling sorry for himself. He is inspired to get back into the game, going through intensive training all the time believing that the toughest player hell have to compete with will be his friend.

The day of the big competition arrives, both players win their preliminary rounds. During one particularly tough game Peco learns to let go and just enjoy the sheer pleasure of playing, at this moment comes the reality that the player he had to compete with was himself. Both players make it to the final, Peco Vs Smile, there can be only one winner; will their friendship be able to stand the test?

Its obvious the cast enjoyed making the film and a lot of the pleasure comes through the performances, well worth a rental if you're looking for something light and positive.

Cheers Trev.

BBFC rated 12A

R2 Pal dvd available from ICA Projects. R2 and R3 editions also available.

Re: Japanese Journals - General

Postby trevor826 » Thu Jan 26, 2006 12:04 am

Inugami (2001)

Directed by Masato Harada

Starring Yuki Amami (Crying Out Love, in the Center of the World), Atsuro Watabe

Akira Nutahara moves from Tokyo to start work as a teacher in a small village, he is fascinated by Miki Bonomiya a woman who makes paper by traditional means. Fascination turns to love till he is warned about a curse carried by the Bonomiya clan, the Inugami (Demon dog) borne by the females of the family.

The Bonomiyas were the most powerful family in the region and could trace their family roots back over many years. They are preparing to celebrate the clans 900th anniversary since their move from Kyoto but are on the verge of bankruptcy due to the bad business choices and gambling of the head of the household.

Shortly after Akiras arrival strange things start happening which the villagers instantly blame on the Bonomiyas and the Inugami, Akira puts this down to superstition and petty jealousy but the villagers hatch a plot to bring about the Bonomiyas downfall at their anniversary celebrations. Akira gets wind of this but what can he do to prevent it? He is one man and due to his relationship with Miki, neither the villagers nor the Bonomiyas can be bothered listening to him.

The Bonomiyas are more than a little mad themselves, years of inbreeding and self segregation plus the notion of the curse have driven them to the brink, the villagers arent the only ones who plan the clans downfall hampering Akiras efforts even more.

I have to say this is a film that could have easily shed a few scenes and still retained the important elements, it is drawn out at times but the scenes involving traditional methods of paper making are fascinating. The countryside is stunning, mountains covered in thick forests, winding roads with little villages dotted here and there, all incredibly beautiful and photogenic. What could have been cut were some of the countless clan meetings which become repetitive, family arguments just going round and round in never ending circles.

Labelled as a horror, this is more a film concerning superstition, fate, tradition and small town mentality. I cant delve into the deeper darker aspects of the plot without adding spoilers but there is definitely an Oedipus complex with additional complications rearing its head (unknowingly at first) but then with the full knowledge and acceptance of the participants.

An interesting story, definitely a grower with repeated viewings. Not a horror film in the sense of most modern horrors, there is no sign of the Demon dogs and only one or two moments that could be described as typical horror. Tough to recommend, only for those with patience. Inugami has a great sense of Japanese traditional values and skills trying to survive in the modern world.

Cheers Trev

BBFC rated 15

R2 Pal and R1 ntsc dvds available from Ventura.

Re: Japanese Journals - General

Postby trevor826 » Tue Feb 07, 2006 12:04 am

Re: Be With You, hengcs I totally agree with you summary of the film. The last half hour or so makes all the difference and alters your whole perception of the film, it also allows for a couple of interpretations which always makes a film a little more interesting.

A guaranteed tear-jerker, I really don't see how Hollywood can or will adapt the story for a remake.

Thank's hengcs, I'll try and get my wife to watch it, I know she'll be in floods of tears by the end.

Cheers Trev.

Re: Japanese Journals - General

Postby hengcs » Thu Feb 09, 2006 1:41 am

before the last 30 min or so, I still could not understand why so many people like the film ... it is not exactly a twist ... but it really helps piece the story together ...

Re: Japanese Journals - General

Postby trevor826 » Wed Mar 01, 2006 10:41 am

Shark Skin Man and Peach Hip Girl (199 Samehada otoko to momojiri onna

Directed by Katsuhito Ishii

Starring Tadanobu Asano (Vital, Last Life in the Universe), Susumu Terajima (Hana-Bi, After Life)

Cool, funky, hip, bizarre, all these and more adjectives can be applied to Shark Skin Man and Peach Hip Girl.

Samehada (Asano) is on the run from the mob with a huge amount of their cash. Toshiko is also running away, trying desperately to escape from the hotel owned and managed by her perverted uncle who has decided that he also owns her and that she will become his wife. The pair meet in slightly strange circumstances and throw their lot in together hoping to make their escape.

Closely following on the heels of Samehada are the mob, the gang hes taken the money from plus a real collection of misfits including one with bleach blonde hair who tracks people like a dog by sniffing the breeze and the ground. Toshiko is also being tracked by an assassin who has been hired by her uncle, he's a real techno geek who appears to be stuck in the 50s with both his fashion sense and technology. His job is to bring Toshiko back to the uncle and to eliminate whoever she's with, after finding the pair at a service station he follows Samehada into the mens toilet with the intention of killing him, he fails and instead ends up falling in love with his intended victim. Samehada and Toshiko escape and carry on with their flight but the mob are closing in on them.

The story rattles along at a fair pace though it's never really engaging being more style than substance. Eventually there is a huge showdown, a gunfight with plenty of death and destruction, there are also quite a few moments that would happily fit into a Tarantino movie although hes never used such a bizarre collection of characters.

A decent cool flick, entertaining and fun with lashings of style. Although not as well constructed as Space Travellers, which is more engaging also more consistent in its plot and humour and overall a better film.

Recommended as a piece of light entertainment with style, panache, flair but also the sort of weirdness that has become more prevalent in a lot of recent Japanese Yakuza films.

Cheers Trev.

No BBFC rating but probably a 15 because of the stylish violence.

R1 ntsc dvd available from Kino. R3 dvds available from several suppliers.

Re: Japanese Journals - General

Postby arsaib4 » Wed Apr 26, 2006 4:57 am

PEEP "TV" SHOW (Japan / 2004)
*A 2006 U.S. Release*

Blurring the line between fiction and documentary, Yutaka Tsuchiya's DV-shot Peep "TV" Show boldly examines the lives of a few disaffected Japanese youths attempting to make sense of the paranoia-ridden post-9/11 world. Set around the first anniversary of September 11, the film takes place in Tokyo's Shibuya district, which is deemed by a few as their own "Ground Zero." (Incidentally, the term's most common usage previously was to reference the devastation caused by the nuclear attacks on Japan.) The title pertains to a website run by Hasegawa (Takayuki Hasegawa), an androgynous street-youth who voyeuristically films the locals day and night with his minuscule digital camera. He's eventually joined in his endeavors by Moe (Shiori Gechov), a lonely Goth girl perpetually donning a baby doll outfit who chooses to offer herself in order to become part of the website.

Peep "TV" Show is more a series of vignettes rather than a fully-fleshed narrative. This allows Tsuchiya to easily navigate between various characters, most of whom being the consumers of Hasegawas website. (Reportedly, real people played themselves.) They include a young computer geek who has no intention of leaving his small, studio apartment; an office worker who finds no other comfort in his life besides sleep; a porn connoisseur always searching for bold new grounds, etc. While Hasegawa's character remains somewhat of a blur (perhaps intentionally), Moe's is vivid and heartbreaking. By her own terms, she's less of a cult figure than simply someone trying to find an identity in the post-modern world. All of the testimonies end up presenting the sort of reality that is sought by these very individuals.

While well paced and edited, the film overall is less "cinematic" than Koreedas Distance (2001) and Iwais All About Lily Chou-Chou (2001), two other recent Japanese films that have taken recent tragedies and their overall effects on youths into account. However, its specificity in terms of culture, politics and technology ultimately becomes an important distinguishing factor. Also, these individuals feel all too REAL members of the world which according to them has lost its "reality." As one character rightfully puts it: "It's not us, it's the world that's messed up."

Grade: B+

*PEEP "TV" SHOW premiered at the Rotterdam Film Festival in 2004; it won the FIPRESCI prize there. The film was released on DVD by Facets (U.S.) earlier this year.

Re: Japanese Journals - General

Postby trevor826 » Sun Apr 30, 2006 1:43 pm

Thanks arsaib4, sounds like my sort of film. I'll probably have to import it though, how good is the dvd?

Cheers Trev.

Re: Japanese Journals - General

Postby arsaib4 » Sun Apr 30, 2006 11:19 pm

In fact, I thought of you after watching the film; it is certainly something that would interest you. The DVD, however, is a very low-end production. Chicago-based Facets is not a major distributor, but they try to collect niche films. Most of their DVD menus only contain "play" and "chapter" options.


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