About Japanese culture, movies, literature and more
Monthly Archives: June 2017
“In a gentle and subtle manner the narrative expresses its views on life, love and relationships, views that (…) do not fail to struck an emotional cord”
If one looks at the output of the Japanese movie industry, it is clear that the Japanese audiences love their tearjerker romance movies, e.g. Makoto Shinkai’s anime Kimi No Nawa (2016). While some of these movies are amazing – and can even be considered as masterpieces, the danger this genre faces is a rehashing of tropes, a rehashing draining all the creativity this genre desperately needs.
If we want to find a refreshing take on the romance genre, we shouldn’t look at the Japanese movie companies, who are happy to cash-in on this kind of rehashing, but, instead, to the indie scene. One such indie romance movie is Shingo Matsumura’s Love and Goodbye and Hawaii. Will it fall for the danger of rehashing or does Matsumura provide that touch if freshness the genre needs?
For our first interview, we sit down with the director of Bamy, Jun Tanaka. Throughout the interview, we talk about his decision to make a fiction movies, the difficulties of working with a small budget, the importance of fate and ghosts, his influences, … etc. This interview proves to be a very interesting read into the mind of a promising Japanese director.
First of all, thanks to Jun Tanaka to have taken the time to answer my questions. The interview was conducted bilingually and the English translation of the interview will be published in the coming week. The decision to publish the Japanese version has a simple reason; the signifiers he uses are his own. As such we can only a fully appreciate Tanaka’s answers in the language he was born in.
Our review of Tanaka’s first feature film Bamy can be found here.
“Shady reveals in an unsettling way, precisely what love is not about. (…) Watanabe’s visual language shows a lot of potential (…) And it is this potential we want to see blooming in the future.”
As the current cinematic landscape of Japan seems to silt into mere translating popular anime and novels, often forced into a tried and tested mold conditioned by capital, one might forget there is also an indie scene, where, by standard, creative freedom is more appreciated and where, quite often, more refreshing and inventive narratives are produced.
“Yureru proves to be a very intimate emotive meditation on the mendacity of identity and the subjectivity in experiencing reality. It is a sublime meditation we recommend to everyone.”
In 2006 Miwa Nishikawa released her second feature film Yureru The long excuse (200.As her first feature film, Wild Berries (2003), for which Kore-eda was the producer, garnished many awards, like the Best New Director award at the 2004 Yokohama Film Festival and the 13th Japanese Professional Movie Awards, expectations were very high. With Yureru (2006), which won 4 awards at the Yokohama Film Festival, and Dear Doctor (2009),Nishikawa confirmed her status as a big talent in the industry.
“Tampopo remains a fresh and engaging narrative (…) [that] shows that life, in all its aspects, turns around food and the enjoyment it provides. (…) If you didn’t eat properly before, it’ll make you hungry at the very same time.”
From sushi to okonomiyaki, from tempura to Yakiniku. Melon pan, omurice, udon, yakitori, curry, croquettes, tonkatsu and of course ramen. Japan and food, two signifiers that quite often have a synonymous ring. Food is important in Japan and, one might even say, Japan is important in food – as its cuisine is very popular internationally.
“Kurosawa’s masterful formal approach to cinematography shows vividly that creepiness lurks at the surface of society (…) Creepy is a masterpience and trulylives up to its name. And yes, you will think twice about getting cozy with your neighbours”.
In 1997, 14 years after he started directing feature films, Kiyoshi Kurosawa appeared with a bang on the international scene with Cure (1997), a subtle and creepy serial killer narrative, while regaining his place – a place he lost in the eighties under influence of Nikattsu – in Japan as well. He confirmed his position with Pulse (2001), considered by some as his most successfully realized horror narrative to date.