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Japanese cinema

Related: anime - ero-guro-nansensu - Japan - Japanese erotica - Japanese exploitation - Japanese erotic films - Japanese horror

Connoisseurs: Roland Domenig - Andrew Grossman - Tom Mes - Mark Schilling

Directors: Juzo Itami - Yasuzo Masumura - Teruo Ishii - Masaru Konuma - Takashi Miike - Akira Kurosawa - Koji Wakamatsu - Hisayasu Sato - Ryu Murakami

Titles: Akira (1988) - Audition (1999) - Blind Beast (1969) - In the Realm of the Senses (1976) - Tampopo (1985) - Tetsuo (1988) - Tokyo Decadence (1992)

Eros Plus Massacre: An Introduction to the Japanese New Wave Cinema (1988) - David Desser
[FR] [DE] [UK]

Audition/Odishon (1999) - Takashi Miike [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]

An introduction to the angry young men of 1960s Japanese cinema. Led by Nagisa Oshima, these directors sought to overthrow the cinematic conventions of their distinguished predecessors (Kurosawa, Ozu) and deal more honestly with postwar Japan. The decade of the 1960s encompassed a "New Wave" of films, films whose makers were rebels, challenging cinematic traditions and the culture at large. Eros plus Massacre (taking its title from a 1969 Yoshida Yoshishige film). Desser organizes his volume around the defining motifs of the New Wave. Chapters examine in depth themes such as youth, identity, sexuality, and women, as they are revealed in the Japanese films of the 60s. Covers films by Oshima, Shinoda, Imamura, Yoshida, Suzuki, and others.


Japanese Cinema (Eiga) has a history in Japan that spans more than 100 years. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinema_of_Japan [Oct 2005]


Dedicated to Japanese cinema, Midnight Eye is an entirely non-commercial, non-profit initiative created and edited by Tom Mes and Jasper Sharp --http://www.midnighteye.com

Warm Water Under A Red Bridge (2001) - Shohei Imamura

Warm Water Under A Red Bridge (2001) - Shohei Imamura [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

This strange fable of a movie, like other movies by Japanese director Shohei Imamura (The Eel, Dr. Akagi), is both enchanting and perplexing. After being laid off, a salesman (Koji Yakusho) travels to a small town to seek out a treasure hidden by an elderly friend of his. Instead, he finds a young woman who has a peculiar condition: she releases gushes of water when she has orgasms. Meanwhile, her grandmother waits for the man who left her years ago to return; an African marathon runner passes their house every day; and three fishermen cast their lines into the nearby river, for the water the young woman vents attracts an abundance of fish. The baffling significance of the movie's more fantastic elements doesn't keep Warm Water Under a Red Bridge from also being charming, strangely sincere, and surreally comic. --Bret Fetzer, Amazon

Shohei Imamura (born 15 September 1926 in Tokyo, Japan) is a Japanese film director. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shohei_Imamura [Jan 2005]

More films

  1. After Life (1998) - Hirokazu Koreeda [Amazon.com]
    This unpretentious, endearing film is a modest triumph. Based on interviews with more than 500 people about the one memory they would choose to take with them to heaven, Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-Eda has modeled a unique blend of documentary and fiction that addresses the vagaries of memory but also what it means to make films. After Life transpires in a sort of way station where the dead must select one memory to be re-created on film and taken on with them forever, relinquishing everything else. Over the span of a week, a dedicated group of caseworkers tease out self-deceptions as well as real epiphanies from 22 different lives. An old woman remembers reuniting with her husband on a crowded bridge after World War II; a man recollects the breeze felt on a tram ride the day before summer vacation; a successful man faces his own treachery. Remembering becomes a courageous act in the casual exposition of this lovely film. --Fionn Meade for amazon.com

    After Life ("Wandafuru raifu", lit. "Wonderful Life") is a 1998 movie by Japanese director Koreeda Hirokazu starring Arata, Oda Erika and Terajima Susumu.

    Like Giuseppe Tornatore's A Pure Formality, Koreeda's After Life is set in a waystation where the souls of the recently deceased are processed before entering heaven. "Heaven," for the film, is a single memory from one's life. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/After_Life [Oct 2005]

  2. Shall we Dansu? (1996) - Masayuki Suo [Amazon.com]
    On his evening commute, bored accountant Sugiyama (Koji Yakusho) always looks for the beautiful woman who gazes wistfully out the window of the Kishikawa School of Dancing. One night he gets off the train, walks into the studio, and signs up for a class. Soon Sugiyama is so engrossed in his dancing he practices his steps on the train platform and under his desk, and becomes good enough for competition, compelling his wife to hire a private investigator to find out why he stays out late and returns home smelling of perfume. Among the colorful characters Sugiyama meets is his coworker Aoki (Naoto Takenaka), who transforms himself from geeky systems analyst to hilariously flamboyant (and bad-wigged) lounge lizard. Aoki explains to Sugiyama, "When I finish work, put on the clothes, the wig and become Donny Burns, Latin world champion, and I start to move to the rhythm, I'm so happy, so completely free." Here lies the chief charm of Shall We Dance, the contrast between the ultracompetitive women of the studio--including the one who caught Sugiyama's eye, Mai (Tamiyo Kusakari)--and the men who dance simply because they enjoy it. This 1996 film is somewhat comparable to the flamboyant Aussie favorite Strictly Ballroom, but Shall We Dance is especially noteworthy for contrasting the boldness of social dance with the buttoned-up societal mores of Japan, where people avoid public displays of emotion. Even in Japan, the joy of dance is irresistible. --David Horiuchi

    Masayuki Suo (born 29 October 1956, in Tokyo, Japan) is a Japanese film director.

    Suo won the Japanese Academy Award for Best Picture in 1992 for Sumo Do, Sumo Don't and in 1996 for Shall We Dance? --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masayuki_Suo [Oct 2005]

Further reading

  1. Contemporary Japanese Film - Mark Schilling [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
    The Japanese reporter for the prestigious Screen International, Mark Schilling gets to see all the new films in advance, and brings not just a reviewer's critical eye, but a linguist's critical ear = his comments on translation and delivery add a whole new dimension lacking from writers who can't speak Japanese. His comments, even where I don't initially agree with them, such as his Poppoya review, are always thought-provoking and worthy of consideration, and his introductory essays on the state of modern Japanese film are unequalled in the current market. Some of the background stories, such as the influence of the Middle Eastern carpet trade on the Japanese film business, are quite mind boggling, bu also bery interesting explanations for some of the strange behaviour of Japanese film producers. An excellent survey of Japanese film in the 1990s, from someone who was there when it all happened. --Greg Kermode for amazon.com

  2. Queer Asian Cinema: Shadows in the Shade - Andrew Grossman [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
    The editor correctly bemoans the lack of materials that discuss both queer theory and Asian filmography. This anthology discusses the topic as it affects numerous Asian countries. However, the articles are throat-deep in academic babble. This book is strictly for semiotics majors and academics. It's a shame too because many gay and/or Asian film buffs would have enjoyed a more understandable book on the topic. Additionally, this book is a special issue of the Journal of Homosexuality series. Usually, those writings are accessible to experts and laypeople. This was not the case here. Besides, the films discussed probably had extremely limited releases, thus Asians, gays, and especially Asian gays (or Asian-American gays) will have no idea about what the authors are analyzing so difficulty. Readers are better off watching "Farewell My Concubine" and "Fire" and coming to their own conclusions on the matter. --amazon.com

  3. Japanese Cinema Encyclopedia: The Sex Films - Thomas Weisser, Yuko Mihara Weisser, Yuko Mihara Weisser, Naomi Tani (Introduction) [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
    This is absolutly one of the bibles for anyone into strange cinema. Whilst the book has its faults (hence not a full 5 star rating) it does provide a major survey of a little regarded (even in Japan) aspect of world cinema. It contains details of so many mouthwatering films, that one feels compelled to foregive the numerous mistakes in the film synopses. However the main difficulty with this book is that films are listed under the literal translation of their Japanese titles, so be prepared to examine your video cases to try and work out what title the film is listed under (a cross index of titles in English/ International release titles would be v. welcome). Having said that it is an utterly invaluable volume, which sets a benchmark for the rest of the Weissers' series. Recommended for anyone into World Cinema not just exploitation anoraks!

The Midnight Eye Guide to New Japanese Film (2004) - Tom Mes, Jasper Sharp

The Midnight Eye Guide to New Japanese Film (2004) - Tom Mes, Jasper Sharp [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

"All you need to know about the cutting edge of the new Japanese film genre. Animated, inventive and imaginative, violent, and cool ... a cinema that has reinvented itself." -- Donald Richie, author of A Hundred Years of Japanese Film

Book Description
An eye-opening portrait of a vibrant film culture, The Midnight Eye Guide to New Japanese Film is the most comprehensive study of the Japanese filmmaking scene yet written, featuring all-new material from the co-editors of the popular website MidnightEye.com. Tom Mes and Jasper Sharp explore the astounding resurgence of Japanese cinema, both live action and animated, profiling 19 contemporary Japanese filmmakers, from the well-known (Kitano, Miike, Miyazaki) to the up-and-coming (Naomi Kawase, Satoshi Kon, Shinya Tsukamoto) and reviewing 97 of their recent films. With 100+ images from behind and in front of the camera, this is a book any film lover will savor. Foreword by Hideo Nakata, director of Ringu.

Tom Mes (in Paris) and Jasper Sharp (in Tokyo) co-edit Midnighteye.com, the premier English-language website on Japanese cinema.

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