Okuribito wins

Aaron Gerow aaron.gerow at yale.edu
Mon Feb 23 07:31:50 EST 2009

It was nice to see two Japanese films win an Oscar (regardless of how  
good they really might be; as some might recall, Departures was  
picked as the worst film of 2008 by Eigei and not a few on the net  
I've read have speculated that Waltz with Bashir, the pre-ceremony  
favorite, lost because of its politics).

But if I can say one thing: I hope that one day Japanese film people  
will learn to speak better English. Takita and Kato were kind of cute  
in their fumbling English, but they also just ended up performing the  
stereotypes of a closed Japan which can't really communicate with the  
world. It was kind of embarrassing. (Though Mokkun was actually  
pretty good in post-award comments.)

Of course, the Japanese newspapers declared that Takita was  
"fluent" (ryucho) in his speech. No pressure to improve English there.

The NHK news report (it was the top news story) was also kind of  
embarrassing. The same old pattern: the gaze of the foreign Other is  
finally upon us and they have recognized us! They even used the  
Olympics pattern of showing the "jimoto" celebrate Takita's award.  
The report also underlined the impending death of film criticism in  
Japan: both of the experts they interviewed were mostly business  
commentators. (NHK was also not quite right when it said Departures  
was the first Japanese film to win the best foreign film Oscar: three  
films won the Oscar when the category was a special award.)

Given Mike's mail, one question we can ask is whether this award will  
turn Takita into an "auteur" with all the accouterments: retro  
screenings, DVD series, articles and books, etc. Given most of his  
recent films, one might say no, but we shall see.

Aaron Gerow
KineJapan owner

Assistant Professor
Film Studies Program/East Asian Languages and Literatures
Yale University

For list commands, send "information kinejapan" to
listserver at lists.acs.ohio-state.edu
Kinema Club: http://pears.lib.ohio-state.edu/Markus/Welcome.html

More information about the KineJapan mailing list