Thursday, March 20, 2008

Movie Madness

Before coming to Japan I wasn't much of a movie person. It wasn't that I disliked them or anything, but more often than not I was too "lazy" to watch them, even when there were movies that I was interested in. Since I always had a stack of new books at hand, it was less effort for me to sit in my room reading than to go downstairs to put in a DVD or to make plans to go out for a movie.

But that's changed since I came to Japan. I can now spend an hour or more browsing through the DVD rental section at Tsutaya, and I'll often rent 3-6 movies at a time. Since rentals are only for one week, this means that I actually have to plan my time to make sure I can finish watching all of them before they're due back; some days I watch 2-3 movies straight!

I guess the main reason for the change is that I'm in Japan. Sounds obvious, I know, but let me explain! I always rent Japanese movies. (They usually have English subtitles, but sometimes they don't.) It's one of the ways I make the most of the fact that I'm living in Japan. I mean, most of the movies I'm watching aren't licensed for release in North America (and probably won't be anytime soon), so I want to watch as many as possible while I can.

Recently I went through my records and made a list of all the movies I've watched, and the count so far is just over 40 (about 2-3 times the number I would watch in a YEAR in Canada)! I figure I'll post a couple of titles (in no particular order) along with a brief description every once in a while, so you can try to look for them. So here goes:

1. Sekai no Chushin de, Ai wo Sakebu (Crying Out Love in the Center of the World)* - Randomly ordered this because the "Limited Edition Box" was on sale at CDJapan. (I did read reviews of the movie first, though!) Loved it! This is the film that got me hooked on Japanese "rabu sutori" (love stories)!

2. Cha no Aji (The Taste of Tea) - A very Japanese story about a slightly strange but nonetheless likable family. It drags at times, but for the most part the characters carry the film well.

3. Yomigaeri (Resurrection)*- Inspector Kawada from the welfare ministry returns to his hometown to investigate the strange case of a young boy returning to his mother after an absence of 58 years--looking exactly as he did at the time of his disappearance. As the investigation progresses, more and more people are mysteriously resurrected to return to their loved ones. Sounds like a suspense/thriller from the description, but it is actually a thoughtful drama about life, death and love (with a semi-gratuitous J-pop concert thrown in for good measure!).

4. Chichi to Kuraseba (The Face of Jizo) **- A moving story about a woman struggling with "survivor's guilt" in post-WWII Japan. Based on a play by Hisashi Inoue.

5. Swing Girls **- A fun story about a group of high school misfits forming a jazz band.

* - I own the movie.
** - I want to buy the movie, but am waiting until I find it on sale at a good price.