Japanese Films In '99

Aaron Gerow gerow
Mon Sep 13 21:49:59 EDT 1999

Even though I review films, I still don't feel comfortable about making 
up best ten lists and stuff like that.  There's always movies you haven't 

But even so, I do like to recommend films if they are particularly 
interesting.  These, of course, come from my own warped sensibilities, so 
you can take them with a grain of salt.

>"After Life" is a favorite, actually '98.

Actually, it wasn't released in Japan until 1999 so it will be eligible 
for all the 1999 awards here.  As with much of Koreeda's work, I find it 
emotionally quite powerful but intellectually dissatisfying.  Koreeda, in 
my mind, is a very skilled director who is not always original--and not 
always good at pursuing the cinematic problems he sets up for himself.  
OK, call me a warped intellectual....


Disappointing and a mess in many parts.

>      So my question basically is: what Japanese films, old or new, did 
>everyone see for the first time this year that they feel are especially 
>noteworthy and would recommend? I'm especially interested in opinions of 
>anyone in Japan (any thoughts, Aaron or Mark Schilling?) as well as Europe 
>and anywhere in Asia.

Looking over my notes from this year, the films I particularly liked are:

_Shady Grove_ (Aoyama Shinji)
_M/Other_ (Suwa Nobuhiro)
_Mikazuki_ (Mochizuki Rokuro)

On a lower rung are:

_Adrenaline Drive_ (Yaguchi Shinobu)
_After Life_
_Moonlight Whispers_ (Shiota Akihiko)

A great film, but still not fully digested (even though I reviewed it 
this week):

_Gemini_ (Tsukamoto Shinya)

Since I always like to recommend old movies, some good ones I recently 
saw are:

_Kyonetsu no kisetsu_ (Kurhara Koreyoshi, 1960), aka _Weird Love Makers_
     Great use of jazz, youth alienation, the desire to escape, the 
American black...

_Kenju buraicho: Ashita naki otoko_ (Noguchi Hiroshi, 1960).
     Jo and Akai's repartee is classic.

Yes, we should all see more Nikkatsu.

There's much more, but got to go.

Aaron Gerow

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