My favorite Japanese films

April 13, 2009

I’ve been so enamored of geography that I almost forgot I was a Japanese double-major. Well, I was harshly reminded of that reality on my first day of Japanese Linguistics. It’s awfully hard to tell the professor (who remembers you from third-year Japanese, which you can’t speak anymore) that you want to enroll in her class when you open your mouth and Portuguese comes out. I guess that’s a testament to the efficacy of immersion learning. Now I just need to go study in Japan, too.

Anyway, the 2009 Japan Film Festival was this weekend, and is still going on! I had a chance to see The Sky Crawlers, a 2008 animated film by the same team behind 1995 masterpiece Ghost in the Shell (director Mamoru Oshii, composer Kenji Kawai, and studio Production I.G).

The Sky Crawlers

I was completely underwhelmed. Maybe it’s because I re-watched The Matrix last week, am currently into Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse, and touched on the idea of a PMC-run world in a previous post, but The Sky Crawlers gave me little in the way of fresh food for thought. Instead, Oshii works with tropes that are by now hackneyed—although he renders them beautifully, and sadly. The concluding scene had just the right atmospheric touch of melancholy and futility, but the characters were all so unsympathetic, whether that was on purpose or not.

Going on retreat this weekend meant I missed some of the festival’s (IMO) most exciting offerings. Especially Mushi-shi (live-action adaptation of one of my favorite anime, directed by Katsuhiro Otomo [creator of Akira]) and Ichi (a female re-imagining of the blind swordsman Zatoichi). Boo. And so the list of J-movies I’ve seen remains paltry. But I do want to take this moment to recount some of my faves (in five words or less, for kicks):

I’m lacking in the post-2000 department. Suggestions?


3 Responses to “My favorite Japanese films”

  1. Christine Says:

    Paprika is one of the trippiest movies I’ve ever seen. It’s awesome. 😀

  2. Amy Says:

    I’ve actually seen it showing on American TV (on-demand), but I’ve missed it every time!

  3. Kat Says:

    I’ve heard really good things about Okuribito. We can watch it together next time you’re home. 🙂

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