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Which J-movies have you watched lately?


Unswerving cyclist
14 Mar 2002
Which J-movies have you been watching lately?

To all French and German-speaking film aficionados in Europe: Arte screens Japanese movies each Monday at 20.45 CET.

Last week's movie was "Ichiban utsukushii natsu" (Firefly Dreams) by John Williams. John Williams, a British, studied French and German literature in London and later moved to Japan. After he began work teaching French in a high school, he discovered his love for film making.

Here's what he wrote about his movie:

"A few years after coming to Japan I was asked to give some advice to a pretty but extremely rebellious highschoolgirl, who was giving her parents hell. I had a lot of sympathy for the girl, because she reminded me inmany ways of my own teenage troubles. I forgot about her for a long time but years later I started to write ascreenplay about a rebellious schoolgirl and I realised that this central character was modelled on her. That screenplay eventually became Firefly Dreams. I think that it is through the experience of trying to imagi-natively enter the life of someone else that we come to understand ourselves. We see ourselves mirrored inother people and we come to see our shared predicaments. In the film Naomi gradually becomes curiousabout Mrs. Koide and her past. I wanted to catch the awakening of this curiosity, the awakening of Naomi'scapacity for empathy, which I think lies at the heart of all good films and all good fiction. I was interested inthe idea that Mrs. Koide and Naomi were mirrors for each other, in the same way that I had found a mirror ofmyself in a rebellious Japanese schoolgirl. While we were location hunting for the film we discovered an oldglobe and a dusty mirror in the junk-filled attic of an abandoned farmhouse. When I saw the mirror and the globe I felt as if I had stumbled onto a key image for the film. The globerepresents the greater world, the desire to escape and lead a larger, more exciting life. Both Naomi and Koideknow this desire, and of course that is what brought me to Japan in the first place. The mirror represents self-knowledge, and that is what Naomi finds in Mrs. Koide, and what Mrs. Koide rediscovers through Naomi. Another major element in the film is the setting itself, and the contrast between city and country. Travellingfrom the urban sprawl of Nagoya to the rural area where we shot is like travelling back in time. From themost modern place in the world it is possible to go back in time three of four hundred years in the space of atwo hour drive. I wanted to catch this amazing contrast on film, a contrast that mirrors the gulf in experience between Naomi's age group and the pre-war generation of Mrs. Koide. And again I found a mirror for myself.Even though I now live on the other side of the globe I found numerous similarities between my home inWales and the Japanese countryside. While we were filming, the sounds, sights and smells took me back to my own childhood. I felt that I hadcome a long way but that I was in some strange way back where I had begun."

Review of "Firefly Dreams"

Info on John Williams

Yesterday's movie was "Unagi" (The Eel) by Shohei Imamura, with Koji Yakusho starring.

If you have a chance to watch these movies, don't miss them! ;)
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The last J-movie I've seen was Gokudō sengokushi: Fudō from Miike Takashi.

Good movie, but I'm beginning to feel those Yakuza movies are all a bit same-ish. At first, they're all-powerful, and in the end, nobody is left. Well, not entirely in this case, since there's also a sequel.

Last month there was a film festival in Rotterdam. A lot of new Japanese movies were shown there. I always found out about these festivals after they're over... :)
Originally posted by Twisted
Last month there was a filmfestival in Rotterdam. A lot of new Japanese movies were shown there. I always found out about these festivals after they're over...

LOL, same here. However, it's nice to see that Japanese cinema is more than just Takeshi Kitano who's a darling of film critics here in Europe.

As for yakuza movies: the very same applies to the Italo-mafia genre. Think of the "Godfather" or "Once upon a time in America", these movies live on clichés too and serve to satisfy our stereotypical expectations.

Speaking of Kitano, my favorite film by him is "Kids Return" which is one of his earlier works (1996?). Very simple yet powerful story. Another fav film but very obscure is "Manuke Sensei" which originally came out in 1998 and was reviewed by yours truly for the '98 Yubari Fantastic Adventure Film Festival (great gig btw if you can get it-watch movies all day long and get paid to boot 8-p). It was one of the first Japanese films that really moved me and I was fortunate enough to get a chance to meet some of the film's actors who were present at the Festival promoting it. This film really struck a chord with me because of its powerful yet simple story.

The story revolves around a man in his late thirties or so riding on a Shinkasen. Seated next to or across from him (can't quite remember) is an elderly gentleman dressed somewhat oddly. Through the course of their trip they eventually strike up a conversation the younger man can't quite place it, but he's sure he knows this rather odd and eccentric older man from somewhere... The story then unfolds and we see the the younger man now as he was a child growing up in his fishing village off the cost somehwere.

As it turns out, "Manuke Sensei" was his imaginary friend as a boy who had helped guide an nurture him when times were rough for him, his family, and their friends. As you may have guessed, "Manuke Sensei" is actually the older man seated next to him but this is only revealed after they arrive at their destination and depart their seperate ways. The film is a powerful portrayal of self-discovery as the main character awakens something he thought had long since been lost... hope for a better day. There is a particularly powerful scene where he befriends a terminally ill neighbor (who is also a child) and comes to grips with the reality of mortality at such an early age. A great film by all accounts and should you ever get the chance to check it out sometime I highly reccomend it.
Let me see.. last J-movie I saw was Evil Dead Trap, from 1988. (saw it only a few hours ago) A good horror movie.. But it had some rip-offs from evil dead, but still a good old fashion horror movie. Last night I saw Hanna-Bi and Brother. Both great gangster movies.
I have yet to see a Kitano movie. I need to watch some, I guess. Hmm, last J-movie I saw was Ringu. American one was better >_<
I really want to see Ringu 2 and 3 now...
hmm the last couple j-movies i watched were yojimbo and audition. yojimbo is an old kurosawa film, 1963 i beleive. pretty long but a good movie. audition on the other hand was the most diturbing movie ive ever watched. i tell you right now guys, no matter what a female has ever done to you in the past, watch that movie and you will know you got off easy.
Yesterday I watched 'Yume no ginga' (Labyrinth of Dreams) by Ishii Sogo. Excellent film noir.

Tomiko (Komine Rena) is an over-worked conductor on a rural bus line in the 1930s [ actually the 1950s ]. One day, she is disturbed to get a letter from a friend, another bus conductor, declaring that her fiance/bus driver is out to kill her. The friend had died in a crash just after mailing the letter. Tomiko is then shocked to find that the now ex-fiance, Niitaka (Asano Tadanobu), who survived the accident, has now moved to Tomiko's company and been assigned to her bus. In her letters to another friend, Tomiko announces her desire to wreak revenge on Niitaka, suspecting him of committing a series of similar killings. But her energies soon get derailed as she finds herself falling in love with the sullen but mysteriously attractive diver. Knowing such affections might lead to her death, she tries to fight them, but soon gets caught in their irrepressible momentum. This theme of young women trapped in a "hell" of their own making is common to the work of Yumeno Kyusaku, the early Showa writer of the bizarre and fantastic on whose novel Labyrinth of Dreams is based.

Review by Midnight Eye

Midnight Eye review: Labyrinth of Dreams (Yume no Ginga, 1997, Sogo ISHII)
"Kikujiro no natsu"...just loved it😍 it's so sympathic and warm.

I have "Posutoman burusu" on tape, just waiting for me to watch it, and today in the evening I'm going to watch "Ame agaru"...

What have you guys liked about "samurai fiction"?
It's not that traditional, which I believe, makes some people hate it and some love it. I'm a member of the lover group..
watched Kitano's 3 oku en jiken which was brilliant piece of drama done by him playing a cop who goes bad and creates a scenario that has baffled police to this day......based on a true story.....

also watched Tora Tora Tora the other day.....haven't seen the Pearl Harbor movie yet.....
Re: Samurai Fiction
I liked it and can remember catching it when it first came out. Although the plot was a bit too cliche' and could have used a little more action, seeing Tomoyasu Hotei as a thieving samurai with that rock soundtrack in the background was pretty cool. :cool:

Re: Pearl Harbor
I'm assuming you're referring to the recent Michael Bay release (with Affleck and Hartnett) and if so... save yourself the trouble. Aside from a few interesting (albeit technically erroneous) battle scenes, the plot is unfortunately paper-thin. The entire premise of the film revolves around a sappy love triangle with the attack on Pearl just happening to coincide with our young lovebirds drama, bleh...

p.s. Kate Beckinsale is a hottie and so having to watch the film was not quite as painful as I made it sound to be. 8-p
the last ones that I saw were Kurosawa's Yojimbo and Kikujiro's summer, which I really like. Also someone has reccomended me this movie called Shogun Assassins. Have any of you seen it?
The last movie I saw, was yesterday at the Japanese Embassy in Brussels,
it was called "Hana ichimonme", that's the story of an old man
that catched the Alzeihmer disease, you can witness his slow
death, ponctuated with crude scenes of his misery.

Seems like the Cultural Center like to "old man last days" type of movie, not much my cup of thea

movies on ARTE are much better.

i don't watch a lot of J-movies, more into Honk Kong kung-fu's, but the last one i saw was Tokyo Raiders. it had a ok story, some good fight scenes, and a few funny parts
Gojoe! Awsome movie! Anything by Takeshi Kitano is good. And I have to agree with Jeisan, "Audition" was a very disturbing film, but a really good disturbing film.👏
Since my 4-year-old son always wants to watch 'Spirited Away' (we watch it in Japanese of course!), that was the last one -- but I have seen it about 20 times now!

Before that, the last time I saw a new movie was Ringu.
Last J-movie I saw happened to be "Unagi" (The Eel). I loved that film. I also saw with that a "Beat" Takeshi film where he is a samurai and is one of the heads of a militia in a village. There are two gay-lovers in the militia and the story centers around one of the gay lovers. It is cooler than it sounds and there is action/violence in it. I liked it. It was pretty good. I can't remember the title, though.
Shogun Assassins is the American hybrid version of the Lone Wolf with Cub series.
They are (the Lone Wolf series) six separate films in a series.
Shogun Assassin is toned-down considerably (violence-wise). As a separate movie, for what it's worth, it is still fun to watch. You will enjoy watching the whole series much more, though. The movies are notorious for geysers of blood spraying from the samurai-blade wounds!
Juon (videoversion 1) - really scary!
Kairo - honto ni scary as hell, especially if you like computers
Ringu 0 - i feel for Sadako

this week I will see Juon 2 (videoversion) and Rasen (Ring sidestory). I will update you soon of these ones.
Hmm, now what have I seen lately? Well the latest ones must be Kairo and Ju-On (tv version), both where scary and very good, looking forward to see episode 2 of Ju-On, I'm a big fan of Beat Takeshis movies, last one I saw was Boiling Point, sad ending as always but a realy great movie 👏 ...
last J-movie I watched was "HAPPINESS OF THE KATAKURIS" pretty weird film, I liked it though :) anyone seen it?
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