In October 1990, Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez visited Tokyo during the shooting of Akira Kurosawa’s penultimate feature, Rhapsody in August. García Márquez, who spent some years in Bogota as a film critic before penning landmark novels such as One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera, spoke with Kurosawa for over six hours on a number of subjects.
posted by shakespeherian
on Jul 19, 2014 -
In the last few weeks, extensive evidence has emerged that Japanese show business is saturated with the yakuza’s influence. Police records and sources, along with testimony from current and former yakuza members, have revealed that many powerful Japanese talent agencies and production companies are not simply fronts for the yakuza—they are the yakuza.
Yakuza Goes Hollywood
– Jake Adelstein reports on recent attempts to remove the yakuza from the entertainment industry
posted by timshel
on Dec 14, 2013 -
“One day, we looked around and realized that almost no one is making tokusatsu anymore,” said Shinji Higuchi, one of a handful of Japanese directors who still have experience in the genre, having directed three movies in the 1990s featuring the giant fire-breathing turtle Gamera. “We don’t want this technique to just quietly disappear without at least recognizing how indebted we are to it.”
- The last days of the rubber-suit monsters.
posted by Artw
on Sep 2, 2013 -
At the dawn of the millennium, Japanese society has suffered a severe economic collapse, leading to widespread youth apathy and 800,000 students boycotting school. Adult society sought to reassert their authority by passing the Millennium Education Reform Act, otherwise known as the BR Act.
- a look at Kinji Fukasaku's Battle Royale
posted by Artw
on Jul 23, 2013 -
, 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 -
Taiyo Matsumoto's original five volume manga Ping Pong was one of the most surprising and gripping experiences I've had this year. But a huge reason for that is the artwork: he packs more kinetic energy into a single drawing of a shoe skidding across a floor than any real shoe has ever had. So it was with some trepidation that I saw posters for this adaptation going up in stores around Japan. Fumihiko Masuri is a first time director (not that you'd know it), with a background in computer effects. He seems to have directed this mainly because he's a really big fan of the manga too. On the film's website, they've placed images from the manga next to photographs of the actors in the film, so you can see how obsessive compulsive they were in matching faces. Not only faces, but movements, playing styles, and shot composition is all straight from the book, as if they'd used the manga in lieu of storyboards. Even the occasional surreal touch; a boy growing butterfly wings, a dragonfly landing on the net, is right out of the page onto the screen.
-- Midnight Eye review
; subtitled movie in 12 parts: 1
posted by filthy light thief
on May 14, 2012 -
Gauche the Cellist [Google video, 63 minutes] is based on a story [Japanese; English translation #1, #2] by Kenji Miyazawa, one of the most-loved poet/storytellers in Japan (Miyazaki and Takahata love his works, and have been influenced by him). The movie was made as an independent project by a Japanese animation studio, OH Production (wiki), and took 6 years to complete. It is rather difficult to make a Kenji story into a movie because there are many Japanese just waiting to rip you apart if you screw up, but Gauche has been highly acclaimed, and is considered one of the best Miyazawa movies (IMDb). The story is about a cellist, Gauche, who becomes a better cellist by interacting with animals who visit his home every night. *
posted by filthy light thief
on Oct 8, 2011 -
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 -
Japan Air Raids
"is an ongoing project to build a digital archive dedicated to the international dissemination of information about the World War II air raids against Japan." They have seeded it with quite a bit of material (e.g. Target Tokyo, narrated by Ronald Reagan in the documentary and propaganda
section) and promise there is much more to come. [Warning, some images may disturb] [via]
posted by unliteral
on Dec 12, 2010 -
has uploaded nearly 4000 videos to YouTube. Many of these are trailers for the documentaries they sell, but they have also posted hundreds of full-length videos. Most are for short documentarie, but there are a lot of features too. It's somewhat daunting to explore, but the playlists
are a good place to start, and so are the shows: Features
and Savouring Europe
, a European travelogue series. Here's a few interesting ones: Gastronauts
, about French culinary students working to make astronaut food more palatable, Demon Drummers
, about student Kodo drummers, India's Free Lunch
, about the effects of free school lunches on Indian society, The Twitter Revolution
, about YouTube and Twitter's role in the 2009 Iranian uprising, Europe's Black Hole
, about Transnistria, the breakaway region of Moldova, Small Town Boy
, about a gay male carnival queen in a small town in England, The Vertigo of Lists
, Umberto Eco talks about the ubiquity of lists in modern culture and Monsters from the Id
, about scientists in the science fiction films of the Fifties.
posted by Kattullus
on Aug 24, 2010 -
Children Full of Life
- grade 4 students in Kanazawa, Japan learn deep life lessons from their incredible teacher and from each other. I strongly recommend this as awesome, but one caveat: keep tissues handy. (5 parts, 40 minutes total, English)
posted by madamjujujive
on Jul 25, 2009 -
"There's something very shabby about a noble grave... Political power and the power of wealth result in splendid graves. Really impressive graves, you know. Such creatures never had any imagination while they lived, and quite naturally their graves don't leave any room for imagination either. But noble people live only on the imaginations of themselves and others, and so they leave graves like this one which inevitably stir one's imagination. And this I find even more wretched. Such people, you see, are obliged even after they are dead to continue begging people to use their power of imagination." - Yukio Mishima
via Kashiwagi in The Temple of the Golden Pavilion
. On this, the anniversary of Mishima's transformation into a headless god, a collection of video links. [more inside]
posted by eccnineten
on Nov 25, 2008 -
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 -
"We were wrong, terribly wrong.
We owe it to future generations to explain why."
In The Fog of War
, a revelatory new documentary about his life and times, a disquieted Robert McNamara
implores us to understand why he did the things he did as an Air Force lieutenant colonel who helped plan
the firebombing of Japanese cities
in World War II
, and, later, as a secretary of defense and pivotal decision-maker during Vietnam
, which some Americans came to call "McNamara's War."
One of the movie's most powerful passages covers McNamara's little-known service in World War II, when he was attached to Gen. Curtis LeMay
's 21st Bomber Command stationed on the Pacific island of Guam. LeMay
's B-29s showered 67 Japanese cities with incendiary bombs in 1945, softening up the country for the two atomic blasts
to come. McNamara was a senior planning officer. Story by "Killing Fields"' Sydney Schanberg
in the American Prospect
posted by matteo
on Nov 12, 2003 -
: "This site is non-profit, based in England, and maintained as a shrine and resource dedicated to the late director."
posted by hama7
on Sep 3, 2003 -
Death in the snow - a body is found in the frozen North Dakota woods. The cops say the dead Japanese woman was looking for the $1m she saw buried in the film Fargo. But the story didn't end there
An interesting read via Follow Me Here
posted by madamjujujive
on Jun 12, 2003 -