, American author, journalist, critic and expert on Japan, dies at 88.
Smilingly excluded here in Japan, politely stigmatised, I can from my angle attempt only objectivity, since my subjective self will not fit the space I am allotted . . . how fortunate I am to occupy this niche with its lateral view. In America I would be denied this place. I would live on the flat surface of a plain. In Japan, from where I am sitting, the light falls just right – I can see the peaks and valleys, the crags and crevasses.
-- from The Japan Journals, 1947-2004 [more inside]
posted by Ice Cream Socialist
on Feb 19, 2013 -
"Japanese cinema’s preeminent taboo buster, Nagisa Oshima
directed, between 1959 and 1999, more than twenty groundbreaking features. For Oshima, film was a form of activism, a way of shaking up the status quo. Uninterested in the traditional Japanese cinema of such popular filmmakers as Kurosawa, Ozu, and Naruse, Oshima focused not on classical themes of good and evil or domesticity but on outcasts, gangsters, murderers, rapists, sexual deviants, and the politically marginalized." The great Japanese director Nagisa Oshima
passed away at the age of 80 last week. Appreciations from the Guardian
, NY Times
, AV Club
, and a few in-depth articles over at Senses of Cinema
and Film Comment
posted by HumanComplex
on Jan 25, 2013 -
of Japan were live narrators of silent films.
"To many 'silent' cinema fans in Japan, benshi
were a major attraction. It was usually the film that drew people to the theater, but it was often the benshi
which determined which theater a person would attend. Benshi
were huge cultural stars of the time, with benshi
earning as much, if not more, than many actors." [more inside]
posted by Paragon
on Feb 27, 2011 -
American audiences remember Akira Kurosawa
as the genius of the samurai epic, a past master who used the form both to revise and revive Western classics - Shakespeare with Ran
and Throne of Blood,
Dostoevsky with Red Beard
and The Idiot,
Gorky with The Lower Depths
- and to give splendid and ultimately immortal life to new archetypes, as in The Seven Samurai, Rashomon, Yojimbo.
But Kurosawa also made films of his own time. His masterpiece,
in fact, was the quiet story of a gray Japanese bureaucrat dying in post-war Tokyo, and of his attempt to do something of lasting good before he leaves. The film is Ikiru
("To Live"; 1952). [more inside]
posted by Iridic
on Jan 29, 2008 -
And suddenly, in my memory, everything turns real: the summer breeze of Izu, the lazy sun of an early afternoon, the stale smell of water standing in the rice fields. For a moment it is that day in 1956, 37 years ago, and I am standing there, 33 years old myself. See—just to the left of the camera, just out of range. Here comes Mifune running, and there stands my younger ghost, right of that pillar, just off screen... And the summer sun beats down and the fresh breeze of Izu bathes my face, and then the story continues and the film ends and the lights go up and the students open their notebooks and I stand up and began talking about the influence of the Noh.
Donald Richie (previous post)
, the worldwide authority on Japanese film, shares his movie memories
posted by matteo
on Feb 1, 2006 -
The Emperor's Bunker. "The Japanese, with sadness and irony, stressed that Hirohito couldn't even speak properly. This was partly to do with the fact that he didn't have to speak - people spoke in his name and he was isolated from real life"
", the third part in Russian director Aleksandr Sokurov
's 'Men of Power' tetralogy
after the gloom of Moloch (1999)
, about Hitler and Eva Braun, and the despairing tones of "Taurus
, focused on the wheelchair-bound Lenin in his death throes, "The Sun" seems almost upbeat. This, after all, is a film about reconciliation. More inside.
posted by matteo
on Sep 13, 2005 -
As a perennial outsider
at loose in Japan, writer Donald Richie
captures the joyous freedom
of being foreign. The foreign observer is likely to be happy only if he sees his foreignness as an adventure, and recognizes that he has given up a sense of belonging for a sense of freedom
, traded the luxury of being understood for that of being permanently interested.
Richie, the philosopher-king of expats in Asia for the past half-century, arrived in Tokyo in 1947 as a typist with the U.S. government and never really left, writing dozens of books
, on Japanese movies
, history and fashion
, while enjoying himself as an actor, musician, filmmaker and painter. The Japan Journals: 1947-2004
is a monument to the pleasures of displacement
. Richie watchers can observe, more intimately than ever, a man who is generally happiest observing. More inside.
posted by matteo
on Nov 9, 2004 -
Blood doesn't politely trickle in Takashi Miike
: it gushes out
in (warning: NSFW, graphic) improbable fountains
, painting walls
and filling up small cars. His
trademark point-of-view shots are taken from places other directors
wouldn't dream of: the bottom of a dirty toilet bowl (as a man falls into it after being killed); within the ear canal (as it is pierced by a metal spike); even from inside a character's vagina. He has depicted
incest, drug abuse
, teenage prostitution, violence against women
and children and small dogs
, and necrophilia -- and that was just in one film, Visitor Q
, his take on Pasolini
Miike has just introduced his latest movie, Izo
, at the Venice Film Festival (.pdf file)
Miike is less sure about why Americans are now embracing Japanese horror films. His country's horror genre is influenced by "kwaidan
," traditional Japanese ghost stories
that feature revenge and malice: "The stories always have the 'hatedness.' You always bring the feelings of hate [that] you don't see in American cinema". What freaks him out the most, however, is the everyday automobile accident
. "Even in a film, I can't bear to watch it -- it's so much (about) how people are weak, to be just crushed with a car. It makes me feel really depressed".
posted by matteo
on Sep 22, 2004 -