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From Albania to Zaire, there's a whole world out there.
183

Asian Cinema. Discussion, Reviews, Questions (aka ChinJaKoFilm Thread)
Topic by: lizzoqops
Posted: September 17, 2005 - 3:37 PM PDT
Last Reply: December 2, 2007 - 10:31 PM PST

page  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9      prev | next
author topic: Asian Cinema. Discussion, Reviews, Questions (aka ChinJaKoFilm Thread)
lizzoqops
post #41  on October 24, 2005 - 9:34 PM PDT  
Man, things are dead right now. I guess that's good, I'm broke. Not that that ever stops me from watching stuff. I don't think there's much to look forward to until the end of November, and then all hell will break loose again. I need to get behind again, I guess : )
lizzoqops
post #42  on October 26, 2005 - 11:28 AM PDT  
Here's a new interview with Lee Chang-dong. I guess he showed up at the latest London IFF, since they were showing "Green Fish".

Lee Chang-dong Interview.

Thanks to dandan at KFCC for pointing me in this direction.
PGalloway1
post #43  on October 27, 2005 - 8:20 AM PDT  
FYI: There's a piece in today's USA Today on samurai films (yours truly gets a quote):

Everybody's samurai fighting

PG
lizzoqops
post #44  on October 27, 2005 - 10:00 AM PDT  
There's a mostly positive review on this month's Midnight Eye. Congrats for that, PG.

We might have to make you watch "Gojira" or "Monster Zero" Clockwork Orange-style for re-programming, huh?
Eoliano
post #45  on October 27, 2005 - 12:27 PM PDT  
> There's a mostly positive review on this month's Midnight Eye. Congrats for that, PG.

Yeah Patrick, congratulations! I understand that you are working on a new book too. Care to share?

By the way, I mentioned the Midnight Eye review a few days ago in post #194 on page 10 of the Criterion thread that included a link to Amazon as well.
Eoliano
post #46  on October 27, 2005 - 12:45 PM PDT  
Lizzo, just imagine if you didn't have to abandon your ChinJaKo thread because it got so long and we were able to jump to the last page instead of hunting for it!

Japanese, Korean, Chinese Thread
[Go to page: 1... 10, 11]

Now, wouldn't it be terrific if the Active Topics page behaved like that? Anyhow, that's my new campaign, that and the ability to re-edit one's post.
PGalloway1
post #47  on October 28, 2005 - 5:14 PM PDT  
> On October 27, 2005 - 10:00 AM PDT lizzoqops wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> There's a mostly positive review on this month's Midnight Eye. Congrats for that, PG.
>
> We might have to make you watch "Gojira" or "Monster Zero" Clockwork Orange-style for re-programming, huh?
> ---------------------------------

You thought it was "mostly positive" eh? I thought they ripped me a new one in that review. When critics want to savage you they tend to save it up for one particularly virulent paragraph -- that's what they did in that piece. Oh well.

And I don't have it in for kaiju-eiga, I just made a couple of flip remarks. I sincerely want Criterion (or whoever) to release the original Gojira. I'm right there with money in outstretched hands!

PG
PGalloway1
post #48  on October 28, 2005 - 5:17 PM PDT  
> On October 27, 2005 - 12:27 PM PDT Eoliano wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> > There's a mostly positive review on this month's Midnight Eye. Congrats for that, PG.
>
> Yeah Patrick, congratulations! I understand that you are working on a new book too. Care to share?

Sure, it's all about what I'm calling "dark cinema" -- you know, horror, exploitation, weird arthouse, the lot. Nobody does dark like Asian filmmakers and I wanted to celebrate that. After that it's back to the samurai thing for a second volume.

Eoliano
post #49  on October 28, 2005 - 5:58 PM PDT  
> When critics want to savage you they tend to save it up for one particularly virulent paragraph -- that's what they did in that piece. Oh well.

Well, just take some comfort in knowing that most readers will enjoy your book no matter what critics think, though I know that even one picky line in a review can bring you down and eat at your gut for days but there's no point in losing sleep over it.

> I sincerely want Criterion (or whoever) to release the original Gojira. I'm right there with money in outstretched hands!

You know, Gojira is a perfect fit for Criterion's new label, Eclipse, if the ever get it up and running.

> I understand that you are working on a new book too. Care to share?

> Sure, it's all about what I'm calling "dark cinema" -- you know, horror, exploitation, weird arthouse, the lot. Nobody does dark like Asian filmmakers and I wanted to celebrate that. After that it's back to the samurai thing for a second volume.

Sounds juicy. There definitely is a gap when it comes to books on Asian cult films, so best of luck with it and be sure to keep us posted. Heaven knows there are enough people around here who get off on horror, perversity and exploitation films, though I've never seen any of those sort of films myself. Okay, maybe some of that weird arthouse stuff.
PGalloway1
post #50  on October 30, 2005 - 9:21 PM PST  
> On October 28, 2005 - 5:58 PM PDT Eoliano wrote:
> Sounds juicy. There definitely is a gap when it comes to books on Asian cult films, so best of luck with it and be sure to keep us posted. Heaven knows there are enough people around here who get off on horror, perversity and exploitation films, though I've never seen any of those sort of films myself. Okay, maybe some of that weird arthouse stuff.
> ---------------------------------

Oh Eoliano, I think you're being coy. I'm sure you've seen all sorts of extreme Asain cinema -- stuff that would make a Shinjuku yakuza or revenge-crazed Korean businessman blush! In any case, I'm pulling no punches with this next book. Men Behind the Sun, Riki-Oh, Ichi the Killer, the Guinea Pig pictures, it's all there, although I can't say it will all get a pass. Frankly, I feel the Guinea Pig movies suck majorly and will waste no time in expressing that sentiment. But there are plenty of films on offer that represent a perfect sythesis of art and perversity -- these are the films I celebrate. Anyone for Suicide Club?

PG
Eoliano
post #51  on November 2, 2005 - 12:07 PM PST  
> Oh Eoliano, I think you're being coy. I'm sure you've seen all sorts of extreme Asain cinema -- stuff that would make a Shinjuku yakuza or revenge-crazed Korean businessman blush! In any case, I'm pulling no punches with this next book. Men Behind the Sun, Riki-Oh, Ichi the Killer, the Guinea Pig pictures, it's all there, although I can't say it will all get a pass. Frankly, I feel the Guinea Pig movies suck majorly and will waste no time in expressing that sentiment. But there are plenty of films on offer that represent a perfect sythesis of art and perversity -- these are the films I celebrate. Anyone for Suicide Club?

Okay, I'm being coy and in fact have seen plenty of yakuza films over the years and enough Miike to keep me sated for a while. As for Suicide Club, I would rather throw myself in front of a Shinkansen than watch another ten minutes of that bilious schlock.
hamano
post #52  on November 2, 2005 - 12:51 PM PST  
Hmmm... this area looks nice and quiet.... I don't see anyone toting an UZI so I guess it's safe.

So I'll just pop in and say that I thought Suicide Club was pretty crappy. It wasn't even thought provoking or evocatively weird... at least Lily Chouchou had interesting music. The one part of Suicide Club that I was really happy about were the spot-on pop star parody perpetrated by those little girls. Those performances, cut off from the rest of the film, really made a statement about the hollowness of Japanese popular culture. And the girls were so deadpan and dead cute...

Which leads me to postulate my current grand theory of national artistic expression. Live action cinema in Japan is effectively dead. So is television drama. So is popular music.

This is what I think is happening. As a cultural organism, Japan has given birth to what is now her dominant artistic arena. This is anime/manga. Increasingly, creative brains in Japan are people who grew up absorbing manga, then anime. Right now the best writers, actors (albeit voice performers), composers, musicians, and directors (and of course graphic artists) are working in anime.

There ARE talented people working in film, television drama, and pop music. However, their recent work makes it clear that they're not really making films, or TV drama shows, or pop music. They're making live action versions of anime. Some of these creators are doing this so well that outsiders would think they're giving birth to the New Japanese Cinema or inventing J-Horror or whatever. They're not. They're just doing in "live action" stuff that's been depicted in manga and anime for years.

In this milieu, the ESTABLISHED, MATURE artists are actually working in anime, and have been for quite some time. So Hayao Miyazaki isn't Japan's Disney. He's Japan's Steven Spielberg or George Lucas. The guy who writes music for Miyazaki's films, Jo Hisaishi, is Japan's John Williams.

There are a lot of film lovers who still can't take anime very seriously. However, I believe anime is Japan's current National Art, the way Tango represents Argentina and the way Bollywood represents India. It's a national narrative form that doesn't quite have an equivalent in other countries. Something unique that developed outside of American influence (not completely independent of American influence, to be sure... similarly, Bollywood incorporates a lot of Hollywood trends) that includes both narrative style and music that's distinctly flavored with Japanese history and tradition.

I really think I'm on to something here...
Eoliano
post #53  on November 2, 2005 - 2:29 PM PST  
> Hmmm... this area looks nice and quiet.... I don't see anyone toting an UZI so I guess it's safe.

This is usually a relatively safe area unless some wayward sniper or troll arouses lizzo's ire by going too far off-topic with a lot of infantile psychobabble.

> So I'll just pop in and say that I thought Suicide Club was pretty crappy. It wasn't even thought provoking or evocatively weird... And the girls were so deadpan and dead cute...

Okay, the girls were very cute in thier tidy little uniforms... but it was still a crappy movie.

> Which leads me to postulate my current grand theory of national artistic expression. Live action cinema in Japan is effectively dead.

Perhaps Japanese cinema is only experiencing a dreadful slump and is not completely dead, and although there might be a few exceptions, I haven't seen anything in the last decade that would radically counter your argument.

> There are a lot of film lovers who still can't take anime very seriously.

Point taken, hamano, but as you know, it's difficult to convince die-hard live action film lovers otherwise, so perhaps you can recommend some truly great anime that might transform them into believers.

> I really think I'm on to something here...

Indeed you are - your oshiri.

By the way, maybe you can convince some of those talented people that you mentioned to come up with a creative icon for you. ^_^
markhl
post #54  on November 2, 2005 - 4:06 PM PST  
Wait.. was Suicide Circle or Suicide Club the crappy one? uhh.. anyway...


> Live action cinema in Japan is effectively dead.

Not just an economic consideration hammy? Well, at least the dominance of the animation format anyway.


> So is television drama. So is popular music.

Well, is it any more formulaic than what we have here in the states? Popular culture is getting skewed toward younger generations it seems. We're also definitely getting dumber as a species too..


> There are a lot of film lovers who still can't take anime very seriously.

Well, I think it either clicks or don't. It's REALLY hard convincing newbies to watch it and even when they start, they still won't judge its quality against "live action" films. At the same time, it's hard to take many anime seriously given some of the conventions of the medium which seemed to be aimed at younger audiences.


Considering that anime and J-pop appears to be the beer goggles through which a large chunk of "new" international people are seeing Japan (especially impressionable young people), are there any concern among the people in the old country about the international perception of their own culture hamano?
markhl
post #55  on November 2, 2005 - 4:12 PM PST  
A belated congrats on the new book PG.. I'm not too into the Samurai genre but will be curious to see the "Dark Cinema" book when it comes out. I do have a tendency to indulge in the dark side after all.
lizzoqops
post #56  on November 2, 2005 - 5:42 PM PST  
Who Needs an Uzi?

I think you may be on to something too, Hamano. I'm thinking about the Japanese movies I'm most looking forward to, and they do, for the most part, fit in to your theory (i.e.,that zombie movie with Sho and Asano, the new Miike Yokai monsters). But there isn't a lot happening right now, in any genre. I think it's just an ebb in the flow. There's still old stuff to catch up on. And I also agree with E, it's not just Japan that's in a slump, it's a world-wide pandemic : )

As for Suicide Club Circle...it had its moments, but yeah, it really fell apart about 2/3rds of the way through. Even the bowling alley didn't do anything for me.

hamano
post #57  on November 2, 2005 - 5:49 PM PST  
> On November 2, 2005 - 2:29 PM PST Eoliano wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> > So I'll just pop in and say that I thought Suicide Club was pretty crappy. It wasn't even thought provoking or evocatively weird... And the girls were so deadpan and dead cute...
>
> Okay, the girls were very cute in thier tidy little uniforms... but it was still a crappy movie.

No no, I don't mean the high school girls. For some reason they had performances that punctuated certain points of the film, where these girl-group pop idol manquee little girls, either older elementary or maybe middle school age, would get up on a stage to sing and dance. These sets were elaborately choreographed but these mini pop stars pulled off each number with panache, although with a rather grave demeanor. They were great!

I believe Suicide Club and Suicide Circle are both the same Japanese film, Jisatsu Saakuru... it appears twice under the different names in the GC catalog, but if you look at the Japanese writing on the covers, they're identical. Furthermore, the descriptions are surprisingly similar, markhl. Could one be a "year later" remake of the other? I think probably not.
lizzoqops
post #58  on November 2, 2005 - 6:28 PM PST  
They are the same movie.
Eoliano
post #59  on November 2, 2005 - 6:49 PM PST  
> > Okay, the girls were very cute in thier tidy little uniforms... but it was still a crappy movie.

> No no, I don't mean the high school girls. For some reason they had performances that punctuated certain points of the film, where these girl-group pop idol manquee little girls, either older elementary or maybe middle school age, would get up on a stage to sing and dance. These sets were elaborately choreographed but these mini pop stars pulled off each number with panache, although with a rather grave demeanor. They were great!

I vaguely remember, but at the time, I just wanted the movie to end and probably fast-forwarded the disc to take me out of my misery...

> I believe Suicide Club and Suicide Circle are both the same Japanese film, Jisatsu Saakuru... they're identical.

> They are the same movie.

It would be a service to members that might inadvertently rent both films if GC alerted them to the fact that they are the same movie.
hamano
post #60  on November 2, 2005 - 9:01 PM PST  
> On November 2, 2005 - 5:42 PM PST lizzoqops wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> But there isn't a lot happening right now, in any genre. I think it's just an ebb in the flow. There's still old stuff to catch up on. And I also agree with E, it's not just Japan that's in a slump, it's a world-wide pandemic : )

I think there IS something happening, and it's like the last hurrah for a national artistic identity that is independent from America. But maybe only India and Japan has had the energy and the cultural history and depth to pull it off. OK, maybe Hong Kong/China with the martial arts films - heroic legends stuff. I'm not so knowledgeable about the evolution of the HK/China stuff. But in India and Japan, over the second half of the 20th century, there was an opportunity to forge a kind of unique artistic identity. And the creative minds in those countries went for it.

The giants of manga borrowed heavily from European, American and Japanese film visual narrative techniques. They were also very literary, taking stories from world literature, fairy tales and folktales (marchen), ballet, opera, poetry. But manga and anime stories also are fairly conservative, reaffirming very "Japanese" identity and values.

I've noticed that Bollywood also tends to tell stories about the "Indianess" of the characters... what it means to be an Indian... so at the root level the stories deal with traditional Indian values like filial loyalty.

But both anime and Bollywood are arenas where some of these traditional values are re-examined and perhaps rejected. An expression perhaps of the two nations changing as they enter modern times. For example, stories in both tend to place higher value in a love match between couples over the more traditional "arranged marriage"

And I'm sure there were a lot of economic factors involved in how the dominant story telling format became anime in Japan and the Bollywood musical in India (and martial arts action in HK/China?) Both the film audience and film budgets are much smaller in Japan, so perhaps creators felt they could get more bang for the storytelling buck with anime rather than live-action.

Either way, if you, as a consumer of art, are able to throw away certain prejudices, it should become obvious that the most culturally and aesthetically interesting form of storytelling art in Japan is anime, and in India, Bollywood. Anime and Bollywood are both substantially different from Western movies as forms of narrative. We tend to look at them and say "glorified cartoons" and "silly musicals" but they're NOT. They're different, and it's a mistake to judge anime in comparison to traditional American animation, and wrong to judge Bollywood in comparison to American musicals.

This is a recent evolution in the way I view anime... I still think there's going to be more convergence between Japanese anime and American animation in the future, just as Bollywood is beginning to ape Hollywood more and more (dumb police action flicks like DUS, with just enough singing and dancing thrown in to make it Bollywood) and losing some of that "Indianess"... This isn't neccessarily a bad thing, either. I think there will always be anime that hearken back to older anime themes and styles, and there will always be Bollywood films that follow that traditional structure (about 3 hours long, about 6 songs, lovers marry at the end)

Taking the GreenCine crash course in Bollywood, I must say, and thinking about the elements that go into a Bollywood film, how those parts fit into the rest of the Indian entertainment industry, how Bollywood scripts tend to examine what it means to be Indian, etc. has helped me get a better handle on what makes anime so "Japanese"... and all this also helped me get this insight into why live action films, live action TV drama, and regular pop music are so abysmal and boring right now in Japan. The best live action TV drama series I've seen recently is Gokusen, about a daughter of a Yakuza clan that becomes a high school teacher, and yes, it's based on a manga/anime series.
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