jasper_sharp at hotmail.com
Thu Apr 19 10:24:41 EDT 2001
>One more thing : can anyone tell me if these two books are valuable :
>Japanese Cinema Encyclopedia : The Sex Films Japanese Cinema Encyclopedia:
>Horror Fantasy and SciFi Films
Valuable or useful? They are both easy to get hold of on Amazon at the
moment, so they aren't rare.
I've had a copy of his Essential Guide to Japanese Cinema for quite a while
now, and I think its worth pointing out that Thomas Weisser's interpretation
of the word 'Essential' is somewhat different from most peoples, as it is
clear his personal tastes lie more in the domain of the Sex film and not
with Ozu and Kurosawa. He quotes his favourite Japanese films as being
WEATHER WOMAN and FAIRY IN A CAGE.
It's easy to mock his books, though its important to remember that they are
VERY complete, and will give you an idea of exactly how much stuff is out
there and a broad introductory background to the subject. Weisser is a bit
of a pioneer in this respect, as he's seen hundreds of films which have
never been written about in English before.
At the same time, he makes quite a lot of factual errors, and misses out
mainstream stuff like AFTER-LIFE in favour of more 'essential' stuff such as
UNIFORM GIRLS: THE FRUIT IS RIPE. The more I use his books, the more I
realise that he doesn't even have a basic grounding in Japanese (mispelling
Hiragana translations for example), despite having a Japanese wife credited
as co-writer. A lot of his synopses are very inaccurate, so he's obviously
watching them in a language he doesn't understand, or hasn't seen the film
at all (BOUNCE KOGALS is descibed a "a fashionable sex movie, like
SPICEWORLD times 10", for example).
And then there's his writing style, which is basic in the extreme,
constantly making digs at "arthouse" audiences, and with an annoying habit
of sticking things in italics or upper case to make a very simple point. The
sheer scope of the book doesn't allow enough space for any real insights
into the films, and its generally a series of capsule reviews of a couple of
The Sex films book is an extraordinary achievement. I never realised there
was so much out there, and I don't know whether to admire or pity him for
having seen them all - the full filmography of Hisayasu Sato, for example,
is quite something. As 95% of these films will never make make it outside of
Japan, its rather hard to tell whether the information in this book is
correct or not. I spotted a few errors and I'll point out that Pinku is
hardly my specialised subject. The individual reviews aren't too important
or interesting, but the sporadic profiles of the directors are useful, if
not always correct, and its another case of providing a very complete guide
to a subject which hasn't been broached before.
Both of these books, especially SEX, suffer from the fact that the films are
listed under the direct English translation of their Japanese titles, or
Weisser's own interpretation, often ignoring the Eng lang titles listed in
distributors catalogues, in favour of more sensationalist titlings such as
VIBRATING LOLITA COMPLEX, GROTESQUE ROPE TORTURE, NURSES UNIFORM BONDAGE
etc. Wakamatsu's ECSTASY OF ANGELS is thus translated as ANGELIC ORGASM etc.
Still, as there's so little available on Japanese films, I would tentatively
recommend them, but use with caution.
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