Monday, 15 March 2010

Japanese Cinema!

Back when I worked in a comic shop (2004-2007) I was really into Asian Cinema, Japanese cinema in particular. I still am but due to not having a full-time wage anymore, can't buy as many DVD's as I was once able and have fallen behind on what's what. I've got quite a hefty collection of Japanese, Korean, Chinese and Thai films, not all of them good, but there are some absolute corkers if you take a chance on them! In recent years, a lot more Asian cinema has been released over here, whereas when I started to get into, a goodly amount were only available on Region 3. It's odd to see a lot of the films I bought over 6 years ago finally get released but also nice as now more people get to enjoy them! Here are a few I would highly recommend if anyone wants to watch something a bit different!

The Taste of Tea: A fantastic slice-of-life look at a slightly odd family. Mum is trying to get back into the animation industry after raising her family and is making a cartoon at the kitchen table. Grandad is a bit weird and up to secret things in his room. Dad is a hypnotherapist who also helps the family relax by hypnotising them at home. Son Hajime is infatuated with the new girl at school and is an expert at the game Go and daughter Sachiko needs to find a way of making the giant version of herself that follows her around disappear.

Fine, Totally Fine: Teruo wants to open the world's scariest haunted house and spends most of time setting up elaborate pranks to frighten people. However, when he encounters a real ghost (actually a homeless man who pretends to be a ghost) he loses his faith in his ability to frighten people and resigns himself to working in his father's bookshop. Meanwhile, his childhood friend Hisanobu is slightly infatuated with the cute but useless Akari. The three become friends and a love triangle starts to shake up Teruo and Hisanobu's friendship.
This film is awesome; it's funny, surreal and just down-right feel good!
Ping Pong chronicles the friendship between two Ping Pong enthusiasts: cocky Peco and the reserved Smile (so called because he never does). We follow their adventures competing in various Ping Pong games and tournaments and the other players they encounter. This is one of my favourite films of any sort ever; brilliant soundtrack, great actors and it's based on the Manga by the magnificent Taiyo Matsumoto.

Asako In Ruby Shoes: This Korean/Japanese co-production was bought on a whim because I had a free DVD in an offer and this was the only film in the price-range I could use. It has since become one of my favourite films! U-in is a lonely white-collar worker from Seoul who spends his time looking at dirty websites on the internet. Aya is a depressed teenager from Tokyo who dreams about committing suicide in Alaska by holding her breath. She answers an ad for a website in which she dresses up and becomes "Asako in Ruby Shoes" for paying punters, one of whom is U-in. As dodgy and depressing as this all sounds, it isn't in the slightest! It's a very funny, heart-warming film that focuses on two very different people from different countries who have met before in life without realising it and through a series of odd events, meet again.

There are about a million more films I could write about but the above are some of my personal favourites. I haven't even touched upon Asian Horror films or the wacky world of Takashi Miike yet! If you're looking for something different and a bit quirky, I would recommend any of the above.

1 comment:

  1. I too share the asian cinema love gene! Have you seen Funuke - Show Some Love you Losers? Tis also good! I have not heard of The Taste of Tea before reading this post! As a japanophile, a girl and an animator I feel this film was made for me :D I need to track it down! Thanks so much for writing this!


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