Tag Archives: Japan

THE WATER MAGICIAN

The Water Magician / Taki no shiraito
d. Kenji Mizoguchi / 1933 / Japan / 98 min
Silent Film & Live Music series @ Barbican (London, UK)

Still from The Water Magician

In the late 1920s and early 1930s, when the American film industry was clamouring to update to the latest sound technology in the hope of capturing an ever-lucrative market share, Japanese cinema audiences were beholden to a vastly different way of experiencing the moving image.

Developed from long-practiced traditions of Noh and kubuki theatre, films of the silent era – both local and imported – were interpreted for Japanese audiences by live benshi narrators, who would relate the story, give voice to the characters and apply their own personalities to an entirely unique brand of cinematic storytelling.

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STILL WALKING

Still Walking / Aruitemo Aruitemo
d. Hirokazu Koreeda / 2008 / Japan / 114 min
Viewed at: Screen 3 @ Cinema City (Norwich, UK)

Still from Still Walking

It sounds kind of naff (and even somewhat condescending, given the tone of my last post) but a big part of me thinks that Hirokazu Koreeda’s Still Walking is exactly what proper, quality world cinema is all about, and puts to absolute shame the swathes of dull, lifeless, undramatic family dramas that emanate from national cinemas around the world on an almost monthly basis.

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BATTLE ROYALE

Battle Royale / Batoru Rowaiaru
d. Kinji Fukasaku / Japan / 2000 / 122 mins
Viewed at: A3.03 @ UEA (Norwich, UK)

Still from Battle Royale

Battle Royale seems to be one of those films that will remain perpetually misunderstood. There is no shortage of people willing to read it as little more than a worthless, brutally violent exploitation flick, but it is simply so much more than that.

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DETROIT METAL CITY

Detroit Metal City / Detoroito Metaru Shiti
d.  Toshio Lee / Japan / 2008 / 104 mins
Viewed at: A3.03 @ UEA (Norwich, UK)

The two faces of Ken'ichi in Detroit Metal City

Like an extreme version of the Hannah Montana franchise, Detroit Metal City wears its satirical heart on its satanic sleeve. Country boy moves to the big city with dreams of becoming the next cutesy indie-pop sensation, only to become the lead bad-boy in a cult death metal band.

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EXECUTIVE KOALA

Executive Koala / Koara Kachô
d. Minoru Kawasaki / Japan / 2005 /  85 mins
Viewed on: Region 1 DVD

Still from Executive Koala

Whilst this mini string of Japanese film treats got (slightly) more serious in the last post with Takeshi Kitano’s bloody pastiche Zatôichi, it’s time to return to the anthropomorphic, Z-grade wackiness that is Minoru Kawasaki, whose Calamari Wrestler set us on our way. Just like Kawasaki’s cephalopodic theatrical debut, this one shouldn’t take much explaining: out with a wrestler who is also a squid, and in with an executive pickle salesman who is – yep, you guessed it – a slim, wobbly headed koala named Tamura.

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