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Japanese Film Hall of Fame


Kamikaze Girls

Not a film really up my alley. I didn't care for the characters at all, especially that guy with the extremely weird hair was super annoying. I didn't think the leads performance was horrible but I didn't necessarily care for it either.

Hardest part for me was that the humor just didn't land with me, which obviously it needed to for the film to be effective for me. There were just some parts that were downright horrid, such as the guy farting or the girl vomiting. I just thought stuff like that was useless and nonsensical.

About the best I can give the film is that it looked pretty solid visually.

I won't be watching this one again.


"Money won is twice as sweet as money earned."

A Hen in the Wind (1948)

Barebones and stripped down cinema that's built around so little that it feels long even at its 83 minute length. It goes on a rail from start to finish and there's only one switch on the whole journey. At times less is more but here it's just less.

There are couple of good looking outdoor shots but I don't like the big, centered, talking heads used in almost every dialogue scene. Acting isn't good enough to warrant constant close-ups either. Characters feels like mere plot devices showing no emotions or interests beyond the primary moral dilemma (film being that short it's kinda understandable though).

It has a feel of a christian TV movie (that ending is the final nail on that cross). In the first half the wife manages to get some sympathy from me but after the husband comes back I just hated the couple. I guess it's safe to say I didn't enjoy this one.

I just watched about 40 minutes of the Harakiri remake, but turned it off. It hasn't changed too much from the original so far, but I think what it did alter really hurts the narrative.

Maybe I would've liked Death of a Samurai more if I hadn't watched Harakiri first, since it seems like those who watched them in the reverse order didn't like Harakiri as much as I did. I might try to finish it later on, but I'll probably just skip to the end to see if the two films differ there as well.

High and Low (1963)

Kurosawa was the greatest film director of all time. He essentially refined and polished to the limit the concept of narrative film: a movie that conveys a story by showing a logical progression of events. Narrative films are by far the most dominant form of movies people watch these days and he was the master of this "genre".

High and Low is a very good example of Kurosawa at the peak of his powers. In my opinion, it is among his top 10 films (which given it is Kurosawa it means a lot). It is a triumph of rational cinema, depicting characters whose motivations are shown to be perfectly "rational" yet tragic.

The quality of direction and camera work is also something, especially for a low budget movie from the early 1960's: it felt almost more modern than Parasite (2019) and indeed was more re-watchable. Certainly a masterpiece this is a movie that every film buff should watch before they die.

Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

Kushana: Nice valley. Think I'll keep it.

It's kind of amazing (and in no way a critique) that it's hard talk about any given Miyazki film WITHOUT repeating one's self in regards to his other films or without mentioning them.
While creating the basis for several of his later films, Miyazaki definitely hits the mark for one of his first endeavors into Children Storytelling set in a Fantasy world with ecological concerns and a strong female character as the protagonist. All of which is done quite beautifully, especially when it comes to the artwork which I do find myself paying for more attention to than the story or characters at times. (Something I do with nearly all animation.) Even more so when it comes to hand painted films and there is much for me to appreciate and enjoy in this film. Such as the truly exquisite floral of the "toxic" jungle that I found to have some of my favorite artwork.

I was also impressed by the selfless, and complete unabashed willingness by the lead character to "let go" when it came to the jungle and its denizens. There were a number of moments when I was inspired by how she opened up. A great lesson and reminder to this old codger.

Along with Nausicaa the remaining cast was quite good and enjoyable to see; rounding out the film's sojourn quite nicely.
Another wonderful film by a wonderful man.
They say: that after people make love there's a kind of melancholia, the petite mort, the little death. Well, I'm here to tell you, after a romantic night with yourself there's a very acute sensation of failed suicide. ~Dylan Moran

After Life (1998)

The short synopsis on IMDb didn't raise my expectations but after The Third Murder I became tentatively hopeful. Reality ended up crushing my wary optimism and watching After Life was such an arduous work.

The premise of After Life is so stupid; who would want to reduce their existence into one single memory, or more precisely a replica with production values of an old B-movie or soap opera? Maybe the film is one big joke and that's the whole point (a parallel to religions and their promises)?

There's no story in conventional sense and characters aren't interesting (or deep) enough to carry a two-hour-long mess. Documentary-like visuals are ugly and seem to serve no purpose. At least the acting is good because nothing else is. I still don't know if the film tries to be smarter than it is or is it just trolling but either way I didn't enjoy it at all. Oh, and I wouldn't choose either.

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The Third Murder (2017)

It has great acting and fantastic cinematography, but I just couldn’t get into the story. Nevertheless a solid work from Kore-ada. I can tell he has directing talent but I haven’t really enjoyed either of the two films I’ve seen from him (this and After Life).

After Life

The premise of the film is very interesting. To live with your most fondest memory and only that. What struck me with this thinking is all of the fond memories of my personal life would be very very hard to chose against each other as each of them had different sentimental values attached to it. I couldn't just pick one I don't think, and I'm sure it's just the same for pretty much everyone else.

I wouldn't necessarily call the films execution a misstep, rather I just think it wasn't exactly as engaging as I had hoped it to be. And again while I had little to no problem with the acting, there wasn't anything in it that really stood out either.

Still not a horrible film, just one that I think could have been much more than it ended up being for me.


Professional horse shoe straightener
'The Third Murder' (2017)

I was thrilled when I saw this come up in this HoF as Kore-eda is one of my favourite directors and this one I haven't seen. The Third Murder isn't Kore-eda's best film but it typically raises many questions regarding morals, decisions and human behaviour.

Kore-eda strays somewhat from his main family dynamic theme in this one, (which perhaps is why it's not as good as his best films) and goes for a crime drama / courtroom thriller type setting. The middle section is a tad convoluted as the main protagonist changes his story again and again until the viewer is slightly confused as to what is the truth. But that is the entire point. It's a crime drama where nobody is telling the truth. The judges, the lawyers, the witness, the defendant, the victim's family - all bend the truth to suit their needs - which makes the viewer ask some really tough questions about who is on the good side and who is on the bad side. Kore-eda does this brilliantly. He seems to spew out these excellent scripts as if it's second nature. It's a fine film, and one I'm happy to tick off from this brilliant director's filmography.

Good nomination.

I'll be away from home for about a week starting tomorrow so I'll be watching my last film after Christmas.
No worries, I won't get to my other 3 until after the holidays too.

Professional horse shoe straightener
'Harakiri' (1962)

Wow. Bowled over by this. Incredible film. My first Kobayashi I think. Loved the use of zooms and facial close ups to reveal tension and anger. It was like a Shakesperian / Greek tragedy. Really well made film with some beautiful visuals and shadows. Quite devastating in parts too. Poor little kid.

owie ^

I was afraid this was going to be alot of samurai action and fighting which I don't like, but it wasn't. Instead we got a hugely intellectual take on the way of the samurai and perhaps Kobayashi was hinting at an anti war / violence message.

There were some lingering subplots that made me raise my eyebrows but that's a tiny negative in an otherwise fantastic film.

Great nomination.

High and Low

For whatever reason I've had a hard time clicking with Kurosawa films outside of Ikiru. I think that the primary story here is an intriguing one but I felt it's delivery to be a bit too slow for me. The length of the film was felt and there were a lot of times I found myself getting detached from the story. The film looks really good and I thought Mifune did a really great job of acting. Kurosawa is one of the better directors as far as attention to detail but sometimes it even seems like he goes a bit overboard with it.

I'm not saying it's a bad film but it definitely could have been chopped at least a half hour and it would have made it a better film. I've always liked films that deal with things such as ransoms so this was something on the surface that should have been a favorite, but it fell a decent amount short of that for me.