The Japanese language and culture set itself apart from the rest of the world but that’s not all!
Japanese movies have a distinctive storyline that strikes a chord with their audience from the second they sit in front of the screen.
Akira Kurosawa is credited for bringing the flavour of Japanese movies to the cinephiles worldwide, but he is not the only director representing the flavourful depth of Japanese cinema.
A few underrated Japanese movies that are a must-watch are:
Tony Takitani (Jun Ichikawa, 2004)
Jun Ichikawa’s film version of one of Haruki Murakami’s most elegant short stories, Tony Takitani, somehow manages to redefine the whole process of literary adaptation, though with the same quiet, unassuming grace of the original story.
Ichikawa visualises this character study of loneliness as a series of vignettes, ending each scene with a lateral wipe from right to left, like the turning of a page. Few writers can conjure up such a devastating sense of nostalgia peculiarly stripped of sentimentality, and Ichikawa manages to capture a similarly rarefied atmosphere in his elliptical approach to cinematic time.
Vengeance Can Wait (Masanori Tominaga, 2010)
If your sensibilities are too delicate for people behaving badly towards each other you might have a problem with the lives of Nanase, Yamane, Azusa and Banjo; but if you don’t mind a screwball comedy with a little mystery and some very sharp fangs then “Vengeance Can Wait” is a perfect entertainment.
With perfect comic timing from it’s stars and director Tominaga balancing the mood the film is elevated from Jerry Springer-esque incestuous theatre to a clever satire of Japanese manners that can be enjoyed again and again.
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Ain’t No Tomorrows (Yuki Tanada, 2008)
The overall impression is one of freshness and vitality so rarely found in youth-oriented drama. “Ain’t no Tomorrows” breaks the Japanese entertainment industry’s increasingly vigorous attempts at uniformisation, all the while operating squarely from within that same industry.
Yuki Tanada is one of Manny Farber’s notorious termites, concise and precise, a filmmaker who can undermine the very same system that feeds her, nimble and agile in dodging the pitfalls, perceptive and determined in spotting the opportunities to put her own stamp all over the finished product.
Adrift in Tokyo (Satoshi Miki, 2007)
“Adrift in Tokyo” is in many ways just like the journey of its two main protagonists, seemingly aimless but filled with humor and many rather touching moments.
Based on the great chemistry between its two leads and wonderful cinematography by Sohei Tanikawa (“Love Exposure”), “Adrift in Tokyo” makes for perhaps the most convincing show of talent for its director, cast and crew. In the end, open-mindedness nearly always pays off, at least in the melancholic-crazy universe of Satoshi Miki.
Eureka (Shinji Aoyama, 2000)
“Eureka” is a slow film whose pacing fits with the kind of process its characters go through. While it maintains the private nature of their emotions, it allows a glimpse into the traumatized souls of these people, as well as the possibility to heal and start over.
In the end, “Eureka” becomes a human tale about one of the most incredible traits of us all which is to start anew and live even though the violence of our existence has become an omnipresent background noise.
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This post is tagged under: japanese movies, akira kurosawa, underrated movies, hidden gems, movies, artistic movies, tony takitani, aint no tomorrow, adrift in tokyo, eureka, cinephiles, japanese subculture, vengeance can wait, japanese cinema
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