Dolls, Trains and Samurai, not
to mention Ozu
all have someone in common
Who is the link?
I bought some more dvds a while back. Three of them form part of a set of films by Takeshi Kitano – Dolls, Zatoichi and the Takeshis`. I also got Cafe Lumiere (from 2003) which is a homage to Yasujiro Ozu, director of Tokyo Story and certain other gems which I have already mentioned elsewhere in my blog. I`ve been meaning to buy Cafe Lumière for a while (cos I could`t find it free online haha) and so I did.
It is a homage in terms of the slow pace and the distance between the parents and their now grown up only child though this relationship is portrayed in a more contemporary storyline here. The only child is a young mother-to-be and has no interest in marrying the father - can you imagine that story back in 1950s Japan? There are other similarities (which they also share with the world at large) such as the kind of ordinary everyday things that people say to each other. When the daughter visits her parents for a few days, the first question the mother asks is `was the train crowded` which is what parents all over the world seem to ask!! In Tokyo Story, the old couple discuss who has died or who has had bad luck and so on which is what people of that age worldwide discuss. Of course, there is also a train link, in that the last scene of Tokyo Story is of a train leaving the village with Noriko on her way back to Tokyo after the old mother`s funeral, and of course Tadanobu Asano`s character Hajime(-san) does some kind of research on trains and train sounds in Cafe Lumière (I don`t want to call him a trainspotter but if needs must, he`s not your average trainspotter). He has a quiet but significant role in this. I thought the director was the same guy who directed the film version of Norwegian Wood (which I thought was so-so) a few years ago but no this guy is Taiwanese Huo Hsiao-Hsien where as the NW director is Vietnamese (Tran Anh Hung).
Speaking of trains, I never got around to going to see The Railway Man at the cinema. Telling the story of a now middle-aged man who had been a POW in a Japanese camp during World War II (in Kanchanaburi, Thailand, the famous death railway bridge) who has trouble recovering mentally from the trauma of suffering in that camp. When his supportive wife finds out the identity and whereabouts of his one-time torturer in this camp, he is encouraged to go meet him. Hiroyuki Sanada plays the now middle-aged Japanese man, who is working in the museum associated with the bridge at Kanchanaburi, and I read he is one of the best things about the film.
Back to my DVD spree, Dolls is a fabulous story about undying love (well three stories of undying love including fan love for an idol) and Zatoichi is pretty good too, very witty. The dance number at the end is an updated touch (you can tell some of the actors are having a ball while a couple of others are kind of hoping it will end soon). The tap dancing group that perform here also perform in Takeshis`, a film which is just weird. A bit of a an ego trip for the director me thinks with gratuitous violence as you`d expect.
I`ve bought a couple of films since then, one Chinese and one Irish. The former enjoyable, the latter quite sad.
Add comment March 8, 2014 KorubettosHaiku
Happy Women`s Day Women
of the world, on this
8th of March 20-14
I`ve been way too quiet on the blog front. I had one prepared back in January but for some reason did not post it. Oh well, I`m back with a vengeance and will post that one soon.
Well today is International Women`s Day – in Japanese 国際女性デー/こくさいじょせいデー (I had to look this up as I was going to put in the particle の and adjectival な but it seems not to be necessary – glad I looked it up) – and so I thought I`d choose an appropriate topic, this being the controversial topic of `comfort women` who were women forced into sexual slavery for the Japanese military during World War II (possibly in previous wars as well) . It`s nice to know there are many historians in Japan who do back up the story of these women (according to a recent article in the JT they have found even more historical documents to prove that the military were very much behind it and that the women were`t `just ordinary prostitutes` as most right-wingers are claiming which is a whole other article). These historians are appalled by the government`s plan to revise the apology made to the women back in the 1990s. I hope these women do not have to suffer more indignity at the hands of the Japanese government. They have suffered enough.
At present I work in a bookshop. There are so many great books in this shop and for International Women`s day I have arranged the window display to include books by or about women around the world. Unfortunately, none of them are about Japan because funnily enough the one book I could think of in the shop relating to women in Japan (A Woman called Oh), I have already bought. The other Japan-related books are written by male authors (as good as these male authors are, I`ll have to see about changing that!!). I`m afraid that if I bring my book back into the bookshop even for one day to put it on display, it might be sold by accident. The same goes for the only other book I have which is written by a female Japanese writer. However, the poster I have made up for International Women`s Day for the shop window has International Women`s day written in a few languages including Japanese so that`s my Japanese fix.
While I`m on the topic of women, I watched Twilight Samurai lately which I never tire of. What a fantastic film (and the theme tune is beautiful – 決められたリズム). Soon after his wife dies, and he embarrasses himself and his colleagues at work with his shoddy appearance, the main character Iguchi Seibei (nicknamed Tasogare Seibei, the title of the film in Japanese, by his colleagues because he always heads home straight after work to his family) is prompted by his angry uncle to get married again. He refuses, and talking with his young daughters afterwards he tells them how appalled he is that his uncle talks about women like they are heifers who are only good for breeding and that this is disrespectful to women. In addition, he loves his daughters and is happy that they are studying Confucius at school (the Uncle is not: `Why does a girl need to know about Confucius!`) and not just sewing and so on which, he agrees with his daughter, is more practical but not as useful to know in the long run as Confucius.
Unfortunately, men like his uncle (Tetsuro Tamba I think the actor`s name is, who starred with Hiroyuki Sanada in another film,The Shogun`s Samurai, back in 1978) were all too common in Japan at the time (around the time of the Meiji restoration) and exceptions like Seibei were probably extremely rare!!
Well, I hope women around the world are making progress in whatever difficulties they are trying to overcome. It`s our day!!
Add comment March 8, 2014 KorubettosHaiku
Whoopee!! Is that a
new restaurant I see? Yes -
and it`s Japanese!!
So a Japanese restaurant has opened in my little city. About time. I went in recently while I was passing through and doing some Christmas shopping and had a few side dishes. Funny that I mark my first meal in my first visit to the first Japanese eatery in my city with firstly a typical Chinese side dish (gyouza – delicious) and then a dish that is just as much Chinese as Japanese (deep fried tofu with I can`t remember what sauce – just as well this is not a food blog, it wouldn`t be very good. I have no photos either!! It`s probably this sauce that makes the tofu dish more Japanese as well). Typical that it would open after I have moved somewhere else, but well I`m not too far away. I`ll have to ask them next time if they have a separate lunch menu As I do intend to go again. Until a competitor opens for business which will probably be another oh who knows how many years. I wasn`t all that fond of their prices, nor was I impressed with the lack of free green tea, given as courtesy in any self-respecting Japanese restaurant surely, but what I ordered was lovely, the service was good enough (apart from no courtesy tea) and the place filled up pretty quickly. It badly needs a few more seats for individual diners though and it would be nice if they sold Japanese beer for take-away. Anyways, good to have a Japanese restaurant in the city at last.
Speaking of other dishes, in film news, it seems that Keanu Reeves` 47 Ronin is not expected to do well. It has already tanked in Japan. Can`t believe this `project` of the gorgeous Reeves cost as much as 225 million to make. `Personal project` makes it sound quaint but 225 million dollars is not a very quaint sum. B Pitt`s personal project was World War Z and it did very well. Probably cost as much too. I suppose the ronin story has been done to death – though this one has an added mythical/fantasy element. I`m not overly interested but if I was it would be more for the added mythical aspect and the Japanese actors starring in it – Tadanobu Asano, Hiroyuki Sanada and Rinko Kikuchi (who I`ve only seen in a couple of films so far). And you have of course Keanu in a kimono. Keanu in a Kimono. That has a nice ring to it does it not. Maybe they should try using that as a marketing slogan – it should attract a lot of people to it who might otherwise have no interest!! Poor guy has had the piss taken out of him too much I think. Sure, he`s not much of an actor but I guess he knows it. Still, he`s got star quality and charisma, is still gorgeous, is said to be really personable. He`s always been more private and isn`t in the tabloids that much. He`s also never really gone out with anyone that famous. I`ve only seen him interviewed once or twice. At least he doesn`t moan about wanting to be taken seriously as an actor – he doesn`t seem to give a toss. He made a documentary earlier this year about how directors feel about the move into digital film-making. That should be interesting but I wonder whether he interviewed less well-known film makers who have smaller budgets to deal with.
His 47 ronin co-star Hiroyuki Sanada will soon be in another film with Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman. I read a review of the film today. It`s based on a true story of a guy who makes peace with his World War II torturer (in a Japanese POW camp in Kanchanaburi, Thailand). I was a few sentences into the review article and I had a hunch he would be playing the Japanese torturer – at a later stage when they meet up as older men – and sure enough his name was mentioned later on in the article. Then I decided to look at the trailer online. As it`s a true story, the article explains how the meeting panned out and the trailer pretty much gives you the whole film – you need not even go to see it!! I would though. I`ve been to Kanchanaburi and to the war memorial museum that is featured in this film. The one-time torturer worked there later on in life. To think this man could have been working away in the museum while I was there. He only died in 2011. I still have a photo of the dentist chair (I also think of the guy in Outrage who is attacked while at the dentist – as if dentist chairs were not off-putting enough). The story line alone is interesting and the fact I`ve been to the museum gives it an added something for me (of course the railway bridge is not the original but you get over that). Lastly, Colin Firth and Hiroyuki Sanada are also in it – bonus – and the latter is more natural looking than I thought. I had previously mentioned that he looked a bit stretched in a photo shoot for 47 Ronin as if he had turned to the botox or plastic surgery but he`s pretty natural looking in this and still very good looking. Incidentally a few famous actors are turning 50 this year – B Pitt, J Depp and, in a couple of years Keanu Reeves unless he is also about to turn 50 I don’t know – but Sanada-san has already turned 50 I`m sure, and he`s just as good looking as any of these guys. It`s actually J Depp who looks a bit artificial to me these days.
Well, I hope my, ahem, foodie post was to someone`s taste. I don`t usually use the word `dish` for men but yeah this being a food blog and all…. heheh.
Add comment December 23, 2013 KorubettosHaiku
The London Tower
and all its ghosts give Mr
Natsume a book
Well, part of a book/diary idea. The Tower of London is made up of his impressions of his life in London, where he spent two years at the beginning of the 20th century, and along with his recollections of not fitting in and living in different boarding houses for two years there is a bit of a ghostly element in his impressions of the Tower of London. I`ll have more to say after I finish reading it.
I`ve discovered a few more Japanese and other authors through my new job. Any job that helps you discover writers you might otherwise not discover, or at least not for a while, is a great job no?
Add comment November 25, 2013 KorubettosHaiku
to Ruth Ozeki but the
winner sounds good too
So the man booker prize this year has gone to a 20-something year old New Zealander for a 800 or so pages novel The Luminaries which sounds really good. I mentioned Ruth Ozeki`s book in an earlier post because she was in for the prize too for her brilliant book. Well, better luck next time. Same to Colm Toibin who was in the running for the third consecutive year. His was the shortest novel in the selection while the winner`s was the longest.
Add comment October 16, 2013 KorubettosHaiku