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Non-R1 Japanese DVD tips?

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Non-R1 Japanese DVD tips?

Old 07-20-07, 11:02 AM
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Non-R1 Japanese DVD tips?

Hello International DVDers:

Any good suggestions for new Japanese films, out with English subtitles on DVD vendors like yesasia.com, etc? Anything adventurous, intelligent, non-action schlocky especially of interest.

Cheers all.
Old 07-20-07, 12:23 PM
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I would go for Yoji Yamada's third part of his samurai trilogy titled Bushi no Ichibun (english title: Love & Honor). If you liked Twilight Samurai or Hidden Blade, then this film perfectly completes the circle (and Takuya Kimura in the lead isn't bad either).

Strawberry Shortcakes is a very interesting character study of 4 women in Tokyo trapped in urban isolation and loneliness.

Udon is a pretty good depiction of "booms" in Japan, and this film primarily deals with the subject of udon. Quite funny and surprisingly moving at times.

Hula Girls, which was puzzingly Japan's submission for best foreign film, is about an old mining town whose main revenue of coal is diminishing. Someone comes up with an idea of putting up a "Hawaiian"-type theme park to attract tourists and hires a professional dancer to teach hula dancing. Unlike its predecessors Swing Girls or Water Boys, this film is incredibly serious in tone which I found quite odd.

Though you mentioned non-R1's, I would still highly recommend Viz Pictures' R1 dvd releases of Linda, Linda, Linda & A Taste of Tea.
Old 07-20-07, 07:20 PM
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Taste of Tea
MIND GAME
Survive Style +5

These are all two years old though...I haven't found anything interesting or tempting in Asian cinema in a long time. Many of the recent films from China, Japan and Korea have been very sucky, sucky.
Old 07-20-07, 08:08 PM
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Some very good recommendations from Cardiac ...

Of those I've seen Taste of Tea, Bushi no Ichibun and Udon.

In addition ..

Vital (2004) - About an amnesiac (caused by a tragic auto accident resulting in his girlfriend's death) whose memories begin to intermittently return as he proceeds through medical school. Self rediscovery of his humanity and purpose are a direct result of what it is at the school that actually spurs on his remembrance.

Though the material is not going to satisfy everyone. 4/5

Last Life in the Universe (2003) - This film is actually by a Thai director Pen-ek Ratanaruang but the film itself has a very Japanese contemplative feel, as well as a mostly Japanese cast. It stars Asano as a somewhat enigmatic Japanese who has emigrated to Thailand. As the film progresses, the viewer comes to find out Asano leads a very mundane existence; to the point where the only option on his mind is suicide. This is actually a comedic trigger .. well, depending on one's perspective.

Through a certain sequence of events relating to some questionable ties back to Japan, he ends up on the lam with a local Thai woman. Although total opposites, they both form a bond of hope together. 4.5/5

Nobody Knows (2004) - Abandoned by their mother, the parental responsibilities (not that there were any beforehand) of a family of four children now rest on the shoulders of the eldest male, who I could only guess is approximately 11 yrs old. The story essentially explores the burdens, trials and the sacrifices of the family while keeping in mind that these are just kids.

I found this is an intelligently crafted work to be both heart warming and wrenching at the same time. This one stayed with me for quite some time...
4.5/5

Joze, the Tiger and the Fish (2003) - Who will leave the most lastly impression on whom when all is said and done? This is a unique and hopeful romance/drama that follows a most unlikely pair - the guy, who has everything going for him - the girl, a helpless and sheltered cripple that is objectified as such by her live-in grandmother. Do they make it through their inherent differences or are they brought more together by them? Does it matter?

It's visually stunning film and yet again, another contemplative story (as all the others that I've mentioned are) revolving around complex relationships. 4/5

2LDK (2002) - I couldn't let this one go as it's right down my alley - darkly comedic and fun. And hey, it's got Eiko Koike!!! Anyway, it's about the deterioration of relations between two highly competitive roommates - to the point where it's literally a life or death matter. The two are both competing for the same job and same guy and with the contrasting personalities just can not deal with one another any longer. So out come the array of weapons to take care of business. It's absurd, silly, dark, fun .. but intelligently crafted. Considering it only took a week to shoot with one of the main actresses ill with the flu, I'd say they did alright!! A strong 3.5/5
Old 07-20-07, 10:01 PM
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Originally Posted by visitor Q
Joze, the Tiger and the Fish (2003) - Who will leave the most lastly impression on whom when all is said and done? This is a unique and hopeful romance/drama that follows a most unlikely pair - the guy, who has everything going for him - the girl, a helpless and sheltered cripple that is objectified as such by her live-in grandmother. Do they make it through their inherent differences or are they brought more together by them? Does it matter?
I absolutely LOVE this film!!! I've probably seen it around 5x and it still is one of the most refreshing & quirky love stories ever to come out of Japan.
Old 07-21-07, 12:48 AM
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Happy to hear that, Cardiac - really!! There's a Korean release that includes the OST CD and it's almost a must as the score is quite fitting to the film. Excellent stuff!!

Japanese films, including Joze are not always for everyone, but I have to say .. even after one viewing, a lot was said in such a minimalistic way. It's not in your face plotting like so much as is Hollywood these days. The simplicity is in the finer details and in the lives of the characters that the viewer follows. Joze is just that. And then when you think it's over .. and what I continue to find in quite a few dramatic Japanese films, the end really sums up the means, but never detracts. Read into that as you will.

And whether or not one agrees with how this particular film ends, you can't take away from the beauty of it's progression. Excellent film!

---

BTW .. if you really did enjoy Joze, then I would suggest hunting down a copy of Last Life in the Universe as soon as you can. It's a similar film in ways to Joze...

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Old 07-21-07, 02:09 AM
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I actually had an R2 copy of Jozee and sold it in Book-Off since I wanted the Korean edition of the film (with the soundtrack...can't get enough of Quruli's Highway).

I have seen Last Life in the Universe and l loved the film...though I wasn't too hot about Invisible Waves. I've seen all the suggestions you posted on #4...great recommendations. I found 2LDK way, way better than Kitamura's over-the-top contribution to the Dual Project.
Old 07-21-07, 09:08 AM
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in Joze, Tiger and the Fish, is the girl only crippled, right? She's not mentally handicapped as well? (I've merged so many Asian films that deal with mental retardation)
Old 07-21-07, 01:09 PM
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I don't know if a 2004 release is considered recent enough, but one R2 Japan release that I've enjoyed is "Warai no Daigaku" aka "University of Laughs". If you find it interesting, please research it first and make sure it hasn't seen a less expensive DVD release elsewhere (China, HK, Thai, Malaysian, UK, etc.); I don't recall reading about another release but I certainly did not monitor it closely.

One newer one I'm considering for purchase is "Nagai Sanpo" aka "A Long Walk" (2006). I also really liked "Waiting in the Dark" (if you wish, see the "What are you watching in International cinema" thread for further comments).
Old 07-21-07, 02:58 PM
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Does anyone know if Japanese people have huge DVD collections of their own Japanese Region 2 DVDs? There are a lot of Americans, British and Europeans with huge DVD collections. I only ask because Japanese DVDs are so expensive, even for Japanese. I'm curious if many movie lovers from Japan hav ethe same habits of having huge DVD collections as well.
Old 07-21-07, 05:59 PM
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Originally Posted by toddly6666
in Joze, Tiger and the Fish, is the girl only crippled, right? She's not mentally handicapped as well? (I've merged so many Asian films that deal with mental retardation)
I would characterize her as mentally under-developed not necessarily mentally handicapped. And yes, she is physically crippled to the extent that she can't walk. Pen pokes fun of this aspect (not in a derogatory way) when she jumps down off the stool set up for her in the kitchen and "thumps" when she lands. Just one of those finer details that add to the film, in my opinion.

Anyway, as far as her mentality goes, it's simply a result of the sheltered life that is imposed upon her. Her emotional and social abilities are limited. She does however demonstrate an above normal intellect due simply to the amount of reading that she does, not to mention she can cook like a fiend!
Old 07-22-07, 05:53 AM
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Originally Posted by toddly6666
Does anyone know if Japanese people have huge DVD collections of their own Japanese Region 2 DVDs? There are a lot of Americans, British and Europeans with huge DVD collections. I only ask because Japanese DVDs are so expensive, even for Japanese. I'm curious if many movie lovers from Japan hav ethe same habits of having huge DVD collections as well.
there's no definitive answer, surely? i would suspect that there's more of a rental culture though, given v-cinema... and the quality of releases seems to relate to this idea of selling to rental outlets and the discs needing to stand up to scrutiny over a long period of usage, which comes from the days it was largely based within VHS tapes.
Old 07-22-07, 08:54 PM
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The dvds in Japan are expensive because it drives the rental market which is a much more lucrative one than what the US market is. There are also a lot of stores (Tsutaya, Book-Off) which sells second-hand dvds...still expensive compared to US prices but definitely cheaper than buying it new.

The reason why collector's edition is quite popular in Japan (especially in Tokyo) is because quite a number of people do collect extensively, same way as one person would collect Ultraman action figures, or Mazinger Z toys. To those who are really into such collectors' stuff, just head over to Akihabara or there is a store right smack in Shibuya (I think across the GAP) where almost every single sci-fi/fantasy/anime film character is featured.
Old 07-22-07, 09:46 PM
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Originally Posted by nottsforest
Hello International DVDers:

Any good suggestions for new Japanese films, out with English subtitles on DVD vendors like yesasia.com, etc? Anything adventurous, intelligent, non-action schlocky especially of interest.

Cheers all.
Not brand new by any means, but I highly recommend all 4 of the Bayside Shakedown (aka Odoru Daisousasen) movies currently available with subs. Granted only the first two are officially Bayside Shakedown, but both "The Suspect" and "Negotiator Mashita Masayoshi" focus on main characters from the show with lots of cameos. At this point, I think the Japanese DVDs are OOP and you'll probably need to get the (admittedly cheaper) Korean dvds. Any versions of those are good, but there are some with more special features than others. Actually, for the second one, there is an International Cut and a domestic cut (longer IIRC). I only have the domestic one atm. Yesasia and dvdsfromkorea should stock one or both of them.

This is one show I would love to see subbed -- they have the complete miniseries, tv specials, etc. all in one package in Japan, but no English subs at all. I think it would play really well over here if someone ever picked it up.
Old 07-23-07, 04:36 AM
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kore-eda's 'hana' (out in hk with subs) is superb. must see that, i think.
'mind game' can't be beat in terms of atypical anime. see yesasia.com.
'memories of matsuko' was superb, see the HK disc.

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