Japanese Journals - General

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Re: Japanese Journals - General

Postby trevor826 » Sat Sep 23, 2006 7:33 am

Speaking of Asano, he's often compared tp Johnny Depp and he's certainly as enigmatic. Luckily he's also a workaholic, in fact just going by the films I've seen him in over the last few years, I have to wonder if the Japanese film industry would collapse without him:

The Buried Forest (2005)
Survive Style 5 (2004)
Vital (2004)
Caf Lumire (2003)
Zatoichi (2003)
Last Life in the Universe (2003)
Distance (2001)
Electric Dragon 80.000 V (2001)
Gohatto (1999)
Shark Skin Man and Peach Hip Girl (1998)
Love & Pop (1998)
Maborosi (1995)

Most of these are quality films, just take the ones I've seen from 2003, three of the best films produced that year.
If he was an American actor he'd be the hottest property in the World!

And he's still only a youngster.

Cheers Trev.

Re: Japanese Journals - General

Postby hengcs » Sat Sep 23, 2006 8:16 am

I have watched Invisible Waves some time ago ...

Re: Japanese Journals - General

Postby arsaib4 » Sun Sep 24, 2006 2:39 am

hengcs certainly likes to tease us, doesn't he?!

Anyway, here are a few recently released Japanese films that I'd like to see (preferably sooner than later):

It's Only Talk (from Ryuichi Hiroki, the director of the masterful 2003 film, Vibrator)

The Soup One Morning (A DV-shot indie from Takahashi Izumi)

Un Couple Parfait (Nobuhiro Suwa; yes it's majority French but who cares.)

The Taste of Tea (from Katsuhito Ishii, featuring Tadanobu Asano)

Tarachime (from Naomi Kawase, a Japanese master yet to be fully discovered by the west.)

Re: Japanese Journals - General

Postby trevor826 » Sun Sep 24, 2006 7:17 am

Unless they are violent thrillers or horror films or classics (thank you Eureka MoC), there is no chance they'll get a UK release.

No wonder we have to buy imports and no wonder the audience for Asian films in particular is so limited in the U.K.

Cheers Trev.

Re: Japanese Journals - General

Postby wpqx » Thu Mar 22, 2007 5:42 pm

Night and Fog in Japan (1960) - Nagisa Oshima

Considered Oshima's most personal film this enegmatic cinema essay is a scathing critique of the Japanese left told episodically and framed around a marriage. The formal introduction is a technique used quite frequently in Japanese cinema, and a wedding served as the introduction to Kurosawa's Bad Sleep Well. Here a slew of guests invited and crashers tell tales of the newlyweds past. Everything becomes an accusation and Oshima is determined not to let anyone off the hook.

What's perhaps most amazing about the film is that it was made by a major studio. Oshima's film was promptly pulled from theaters several days after it was released. It led Oshima to form his own production company where he would find his greatest critical success over the next few decades. The film from the outside can still fit into the youth craze that more explicitly chracterized Oshima's other two features from 1960 (The Son's Burial and Cruel Story of Youth), but this one takes the intellectual side of things, and instead of glorifying violence or sex here it is talk, and lots of it. Even the violence of some of the demonstrations is drastically toned down so we see the injuries, but not how they occured. The focus of the film is on the ideology and its inherent flaws. Several members complain about the lack of action, and Oshima's film is commenting on itself in that regard.

This film is not an easy watch, as most of Oshima's radical experiments aren't, but it is rewarding. The opening shot sets up everything that we'll come to expect in the picture. For over six minutes the camera moves all over this party, we see the bride and groom, their friends, and even the courtyard outside. All told the film comprises 43 set ups, and there is next to no in scene editing. Instead the camera simply takes on a life of its own, arbitrarily moving from one group to the next. One shot holds six actors who don't move, yet the one in the foreground remains out of focus, the camera is simply pausing to take a breath. The wedding scenes have a remarkably theatrical appeal to them, using stylized lighting cues to illuminate certain people and isolate everything else. They general preclude the next flashback, but not always. This film doesn't let us know where we're going, but there is something that seems years ahead of its time here. The failure of these student protests and lack of unity. Such criticism could readily be applied to the numerous protests here in the US that yielded few if any results.

*Night and Fog in Japan is available on import DVD.

Re: Japanese Journals - General

Postby trevor826 » Sat Mar 24, 2007 10:06 am

Thank's for your review wpqx, I haven't seen a bad film by Oshima yet and you've certainly whet my appetite to try and see Night and Fog in Japan.

Cheers Trev.

Re: Japanese Journals - General

Postby wpqx » Wed Aug 08, 2007 3:40 am

Sing a Song of Sex (1967) - Nagisa Oshima

Well I've complained for years that next to no Oshima films (certainly no early ones) are available on DVD here. Thank heavens at least someone somewhere in the world is releasing his challenging, varied, and always fascinating early films. This particular film was a Region 3 release courtesy of Platinum Classics. I found in my little bit of research this is definitely one of the most rarely written about or discussed films in Oshima's catalog. In fact I never heard of it until I saw the DVD, and the entry on allmovie.com has not a single word written about it. Part of that could be explained by its obscurity, but this might not seem to many to be a major work from Oshima. It draws us back to his student roots shown in Night and Fog in Japan, but here the students don't have a political agenda. They don't seem to have much of an agenda at all. The four young men of the story are all rather horny, but don't seem to do a great deal about it. There doesn't seem to be a great concern for their education, the life after school, and for most we are led to believe they have lived something of a life of privilege. Unlike some of the females in the picture, these men have no care for anything political. They half heartedly mock a petition to end the war in Vietnam, and they jump in front of protesting marchers without much concern.

The plot of the story seems irrelevant. A young and handsome professor who is worshiped by the women and respected by the men winds up the victim of an accidental death. A death that one of the boys could have prevented. His guilt is used more as a way of impressing the girls around him than as a legitimate feeling. The professor represented something of a competition for the boys. He seemed to have no problem pulling these ladies in, while all the students seemed to be eagerly awaiting any kind of sexual activity. Not to say these boys are constantly masturbating and flashing young children in public parks, they're just about as "randy" as any American school boys would be. They seem to inevitably get cold feet around women which makes their progress slow. Only one of them (the one who didn't save the professor) actually has a sexual experience in the picture, and remains the unofficial leader of the group. Along the way a multilingual folk group provides a chorus of good will and folk tunes, but a strange confrontation makes everyone uncomfortable.

I'm not sure what Oshima was going for with this picture. His directorial style was almost anti-auteur. He adapted a different approach for every picture he made. This film in its mise-en-scene is a little more conventional than we might be used to and doesn't contain as many radical experiments as his other films of the period, perhaps another reason it gets so frequently left out of discussions. It is worth seeing as all his films of the period are worth seeing and if you can find it by all means check it out. The film is more meditative on jealousy, sex, and the power of our own fantasies and the problems they pose when enacted. All to the tune of a classic Japanese drinking song.

*Sing a Song of Sex is available on a Region 3 DVD.

Re: Japanese Journals - General

Postby wpqx » Wed Aug 08, 2007 3:42 am

Just a suggestion, but I'm not sure if we would be willing to start a Japanese New Wave thread. This would cover the Imamura, Oshima, Suzuki films we may have mentioned in this thread. It's Trevor's baby, so ultimately its his call, but a suggestion if we feel a need to get more specific.

Re: Japanese Journals - General

Postby trevor826 » Wed Aug 08, 2007 11:10 am

No problem, any applicable posts can easily be transferred.

Cheers Trev.

Re: Japanese Journals - General

Postby arsaib4 » Wed Aug 08, 2007 9:43 pm

I say, instead of moving from one journal to another, let's have the members start individual film threads if they've written substantive reviews (or not). And then simply link them by starting director threads in the appropriate forum. But that's just me.


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