Japanese Movies

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Japanese Movies

Postby Udderlymoo » Fri May 21, 2004 10:49 am

So I have been on a Japanese movie kick lately. It started innocently enough... I found my childhood favorite "Space Battleship Yamato" (AKA Star Blazers in America)... and now I am out of control. I am deep into Kurosawa having just finished "Stray Dog" and "Kagemusha". "Yojimbo" and "Ran" just arrived in the mail today. Not too mention the newly released 5 disc "Shogun".
A few new DVDs have English subtitles in Japan (unfortunately all of Kurosawas works, and most of the classics have only Jpanese subtitles on DVD in country). I watched "Azumi" and it was unadulterated crap... the ultimate high school level samurai flick. Though the evil doer was rather cool.
So I need help... push me over the edge.... I must watch and watch and watch until I just can't take it any more. Only then can I return to my normal viewing pleasures. Load this thread with your favorite J-movie and put me out of my misery.
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Postby Melodious_Thunk » Fri May 21, 2004 11:12 am

Itami Juzo's movies are pretty good if you haven't seen them, such as "Marusa no onna" and "Supa no onna."

Sadly enough, there just aren't many good Japanese movies, or at least ones that appeal to me. (I'm not a big fan of anime.) I wish there were more decent productions, but the system as it is now is broken.

While they aren't movies, though, I really enjoyed watching the "Kita no kuni kara" specials that came out once every couple of years. You really got to see the characters grow up and get older, and the acting and direction was quite good (up until "Yuigon" in 2002, which was dreck). You should be able to find all of these at the local video store.

I have a copy of "Zatoichi" on DVD but haven't watched it yet, but I've learned not to expect too much from Kitano.

BTW, Kurosawa's movies are more interesting when you already know the historical background (as it is assumed the Japanese audience did). I saw "Kagemusha" a long time ago, but as I just recently finished a biography of Takeda Shingen, I think I'll watch it again. One of his other movies is about a shoe-maker who makes it big. Though it is never stated directly, the point of the character being a shoe-maker implies very strongly that he carries burakumin ancestry. I'm sure there are many other things I've missed in his movies.

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Postby monkeypants » Fri May 21, 2004 4:05 pm

Try Go! and Keimusho no naka (The Prisoner). Other than that I can't think of anything worth mentioning from the last few years.
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Postby senseiman » Fri May 21, 2004 4:38 pm

I rented Zatoichi a few weeks back and thought it was pretty good. Much better than I expected it to be at least.
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Postby Diogenes_in_Tokyo » Fri May 21, 2004 5:19 pm

Like MT, I don't tend to find much interesting in the way of Japanese film.

I like historical dramas and historical fiction of any era, although Japanese film productions seem to always muck this genre up, whether it be by featuring the latest busty talento or just by crap overacting. I did want to see Zatoichi as well, although the dancing scene they showed in the previews scared me a bit. A dance routine in a samurai movie, I mean WTF? Is nothing sacred?

That said, my favorite will always be 203高地, a very anti-war war film (think All Quiet on the Western Front) about the Russo-Japanese war. Well done battle scenes (one of the reasons I loved Ran) and, yes, foreigners actually play the Russian roles.

I just found another one I wanted to see but missed: "Merdeka," which means freedom and independence in Indonesian, tells the story of soldiers who take part in the Imperial Japanese Army's invasion of Indonesia in 1942 and remain to fight for the country's freedom.

Still got to get around to watching my copy of Spy Sorgei...
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Postby Jet_Mech » Fri May 21, 2004 5:36 pm

While they aren't movies, though, I really enjoyed watching the "Kita no kuni kara" specials that came out once every couple of years. You really got to see the characters grow up and get older, and the acting and direction was quite good (up until "Yuigon" in 2002, which was dreck). You should be able to find all of these at the local video store.



I agree. The "Kita No Kuni Kara" series is well worth watching. I would recommend that you start from the very beginning and watch them in order. The last time I was between jobs I rented them and watched them, for the most part, back-to-back in the afternoons while my wife was working. What a memorable time it was, those quiet afternoons at home. :)
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Postby Jet_Mech » Fri May 21, 2004 6:06 pm

Although not "entirely Japanese," I recommend "The Yakuza" (1975) starring Robert Mitchum and Takakura Ken and "Hell in the Pacific," starring Lee Marvin and the late great Toshiro Mifune. :)
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Postby senseiman » Fri May 21, 2004 6:25 pm

Diogenes_in_Tokyo wrote:. I did want to see Zatoichi as well, although the dancing scene they showed in the previews scared me a bit. A dance routine in a samurai movie, I mean WTF? Is nothing sacred?

...


Don't worry about the dance routine, its just a bit tacked onto the end of the film while they run the closing credits and isn't at all related to the story. This was a definite old-school samurai vs. samurai story and it was the best Japanese historical drama I've seen in a long time.
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Postby Tokyo_Joe » Fri May 21, 2004 6:58 pm

I liked 'Azumi' for the simple reason that Aya Ueto is quite possibly the most gorgeous human being yet to be squeezed out. I want to have her babies. On every other level the film was pretty shit.

Oh, and Zatoichi was great: a 'real' swordfighting movie (I watched it right on the heels of Kill Bill, which IMNSHO was unmitigated crap).
Don't worry about the tap-dancing scene, either: It's right at the end during the credits, the film itself is pure 'jidaigeki'.
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Postby Examination_Hell » Fri May 21, 2004 7:06 pm

Have seen the following on DVD which I can recommend. (Most can be picked up from Japan, though a couple of titles u can get from Hong Kong (Region 3))

* Radio no jikan (Welcome back Mr. McDonald) has English subtitles, very funny. Good laugh.
* Mina no Ie (All about our house)
* Hasen no marisu (The Frame)
* The Exam (don't know Japanese title, sorry)
* Audition (ditto)
* Kochira Kameari Kouenmae Hashutsujo: The Movie (Ok so it's anime, but it's bloody funny, DVD has English subs. And the TV series is very funny too)
* Ping Pong (about ping pong, was quite surprise with this one)
* Sumo Do Sumo Don't (think pretty much everyone's seen this)

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Postby senseiman » Fri May 21, 2004 9:10 pm

Another Japanese film I liked was a comedy called 'Shall we dance?' about a married salaryman who secretly starts taking dance lessons because he's got a crush on the teacher. The scenes at the dance school were quite funny, especially with the students who reminded me a lot of the way some bizarre Eikaiwa students are.
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Postby Privileged » Fri May 21, 2004 10:38 pm

My favorite Japanese movie is Bounce Ko Gals. Director Masato Harada lived and worked in the US for many years so his movies have an intimate familiarity with Japan and Japanese issues yet will touch subjects others won't or will simply look at things more objectively. BKG is about teenage prostitution, but touches on all kinds of issues, nationalism, racism, war issues... Basically it's a harsh look at the seedy side of modern urban Japanese life, but it's fun to watch, not all preachy or documentary style.

He also did Kamikaze Taxi which really focused on racism towards Brazilian born or even Brazilian raised Japanese. I didn't like it as much overall; the first part seemed inspired by Reservoir Dogs and the 2nd part, especially the end, by Taxi Driver.

I also really love Warm Water Under a Red Bridge. Very weird, a very quirky love story with a bizarre sense of humor. Basically the whole movie is done tastefully, yet one of the main characters is a woman who cums buckets in a really slapstick kind of way. Director Shohei Imamura also did the Eel, which I liked too, though not as much.

For a visually stunning 60's gangster film, Tokyo Drifter is great. I actually just love the whistling theme song... I've heard it in a few other movies and wish I knew what the "definitive" version was...

If you're in the mood for something stupid, Guitar Wolf made "Wild Zero," a UFO, zombie, rock n roll movie. There are other elements but I won't spoil them here... Quite a bit like their live show, they are never afraid to take time out to comb their hair or chug a beer. The main character keeps having "visions" of the lead singer, who appears to him on a motorcycle, inspiring him to do important things like go after the girl, etc. His ends each dialogue by yelling "ROCK AND ROLL!!!!"

An amazing resource for Japanese cult cinema is Midnight Eye
http://www.midnighteye.com/reviews/index.shtml

The Asian Cinema Forum is also great, lots of links to download stuff
http://www.acfmovies.com
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Postby Kanjischool » Fri May 21, 2004 11:23 pm

I like watching both the feudal Japan samurai movies and modern society ones.

Here are some of my favorites I can think of off the top of my head.

Samurai stuff
- Anything Kurosawa. 'nuff said.

- Miyamoto Musashi trilogy from 1954-1956. I recently watched this again and was blown away by how great it was. I first saw them about 12 years ago and didn't really appreciate the filmmaking then. Outstanding.

There are lots of others. Ive watched some great ones that weren't directed by Kurosawa on IFC recently. I can name others if you really want.

Modern Day
- Kikujiro no natsu. A "Beat" Takeshi movie that was enjoyable.

- Shall we dance. Hollywood is making a version of this with Richard Gere and Jlo. but it won't hold a candle to the original. Koji Yakusho was great in this.

- Unagi 1997. Another movie with Koji Yakusho

- Versus. The same director as Azumi. This is a weird funny zombie movie you can see the strange characers in Azumi are his bread and butter of filmmaking.

- I liked all the Tora-san movies I watched. Just enjoyable insights into society.

- Battle Royale. Another movie with "Beat" this guy is in everything. Worth watching once though.
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Postby GaijinPooka » Fri May 21, 2004 11:44 pm

Gunna have to suggest Battle Royale as well!
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Postby monkeypants » Sat May 22, 2004 12:25 am

I also recommend the late '50s, early '60s trilogy, Ningen no Jouken (The Human Condition.) They're about the war and star Tatsuya Nakadai who's been in so many other movies you're sure to recognize him.
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Postby allblacks » Thu May 27, 2004 5:13 am

I would like to second

"Sumo Do Sumo Don't"--a great film.

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Postby Cyberfoxbat » Thu May 27, 2004 6:15 am

Battle royale and Battle royale II - you never thought that Japanese high school kids had so much blood in them........

High blood pressure maybe?
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Postby Udderlymoo » Thu May 27, 2004 9:37 am

Thanks for the movies gang. I just finished Yojimbo. Out-fucking-standing. Toshiro Mifune is now in high rotation in the "who is your favorite actor?" question.

I tend to shy away from the "Battle Royale". Cows are typically non-violent critters. I need some sort of "reason" for tanker trucks full of pseudo-blood. But the rest of this list looks interesting. I will work my way through it.

I was looking at "Zatoichi". It seems to be a series. There are like 12 seperate series(tapes). Is there an actual movie?

"Shall We Dance" was outstanding. I actually watched it in Japanese, and still found it to be an excellent film (my Japanese is about as functional as the Japanese banking system). :P

Well ... back to amazon Japan for another round of "Find That Movie"

(Oh yeah on a side note... I thought I was some kind of super genius when I found out Europe and Japan were both had Region code 2. I thought great... a little extra shipping and I can start getting these movies on DVD. Wrong answer... they have the same codes... but the T.V.s aren't compatible!!! Gah... I am not a super genius)
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Postby W.Pep » Thu May 27, 2004 10:16 am

I really enjoyed Adrenaline Drive. It didn't change my life or give me any deep insights into the Japanese condition but it was a fun film with a good mix of young romance, comedy and a little action. I'd say it was well worth the 90 min. time investment.
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Postby netpariah » Thu May 27, 2004 10:28 am

first of all, yes, the miyamoto musashi trilogy is excellent, (based on the book by eiji yoshikawa, a good read) but i've never found it in japan. can anyone tell me who the director was???

what's wrong with beat takeshi, why do you not expect much. he's excellent though all his movies are slightly flawed in some way. he just needs me to edit the alpha version before it goes to press.

i recommend "tokyo decadence." pretty good one.
juzo itami's "the funeral," is good and strangely features richard gere.

was battle royale ii any good?
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Postby netpariah » Thu May 27, 2004 10:29 am

and how about this movie, "father-fucker?" is it any good?
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Postby netpariah » Fri May 28, 2004 4:58 am

oh yes, father fucking is very good. oh yes it is. did you fuck a father fucker, fucker?
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Postby monkeypants » Fri May 28, 2004 5:44 am

netpariah wrote:first of all, yes, the miyamoto musashi trilogy is excellent, (based on the book by eiji yoshikawa, a good read) but i've never found it in japan. can anyone tell me who the director was???

Inagaki Hiroshi http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047444/

i recommend "tokyo decadence." pretty good one.
juzo itami's "the funeral," is good and strangely features richard gere.


Gere's also tragically in Kurosawa's 'Rhapsody in August'. They even have him speaking Japanese.

One of Kurosawa's best later films is 'Dreams.' But before you see it, see 'Kwaidan,' a 1960 era collection of ghost stories.

I also recommend Itami's 'Daibyonin'. It's a great illustration of the Japanese health care system, if it can be considered as such. Too bad he had to go and jump off that building.

Oh, and if you like the older black and white movies you should watch Double Suicide 天の網島の心中. A decent portrait of the struggle between feeling and obligation and how it fucks all.
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Postby netpariah » Fri May 28, 2004 10:53 am

thanx. i'll look for it.

yeah that's right richard gere is in rhapsody in august NOT the funeral as i said mistakenly.

i just saw a very good romance starring marlon brando. it's called "sayonara."
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Postby Uh » Fri May 28, 2004 11:26 pm

If you like Guitar Wolf, Wild Zero is definitely the way to go.
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Postby Kanjischool » Sat May 29, 2004 12:22 am

Zatoichi is just a long string of sequals. There was the first movie Zatchi monogatari and a bunch after. Some better than others but all running the same formula.

I rather like Takeshi Kitano but sometimes it seems I can't watch a tv show or movie without him involved in it somehow. The guy is everywhere.
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Postby monkeypants » Sat May 29, 2004 12:30 am

Kanjischool wrote:Zatoichi is just a long string of sequals. There was the first movie Zatchi monogatari and a bunch after. Some better than others but all running the same formula.

I rather like Takeshi Kitano but sometimes it seems I can't watch a tv show or movie without him involved in it somehow. The guy is everywhere.


At least he doesn't have that stupid bowl haircut anymore.
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Postby Kanjischool » Sat May 29, 2004 12:56 am

I forget to mention. There is a new Zatchi movie released last year. I think it's more a modern remake of the orignal compared to another episode but I'm not 100% sure as I haven't watched it.

Screenplay written by and staring... Takeshi Kitano :P
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Postby barten » Sat May 29, 2004 2:11 am

Wrong thread maybe... some of the pornos are pretty good.
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Postby Melodious_Thunk » Sat May 29, 2004 11:38 am

barten wrote:Wrong thread maybe... some of the pornos are pretty good.


Nah. They've all got those damn mosaics. :D
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