Saturday, November 10, 2007

シャル ウィ ダンス?/ Shall We Dance?

(movie review)

Although I have yet to see the Richard Gere remake of this movie, I will admit that if it weren’t for the Hollywood publicity I would never have heard of this movie. But seeing it in my local video store, I decided to give it a try.

I frequently complain in my movie reviews about how Japanese movies suffer from over-acting, over-sappiness, and a low-brow slapstick comedic sense. And doubtless I’m at least half right in the sense that those movies are out there. But this film is a great reminder that not all Japanese movies are like that, and some of the better films have a brilliant sense of subtle comedy.

My only complaint is that given the type of film it is, a slow subtle comedy, it went on for too long. At over two hours, I think it could have done with some more time in the editing room.
[Update: It turns out that according to Wikipedia, the cut for American video is significantly shorter and edits out a bunch of scenes. Wow, I really called that one. Looks like my attention span is just right for an American.]

This is a very distinctive Japanese film because Japanese people hate to do anything that makes them stand out. Thus even ball room dancing can be a dangerous sport. (Although granted the various hip hop dancers on the street don't seem to be too worried). It might be interesting to someday compare this with the American version and see how the story was adopted for an American audience.

(As I wrote earlier, I believe this film was responsible for spawning lots of other imitation films about people in Japan about people joining unusual clubs, like “Waterboys”, although I’m talking out of my hat because I have no evidence that “Shall We Dance?” directly influenced any of them. It seems likely enough though, and there have been a number of these types of films in Japan the past few years.)

The movie stars Koji Yakusho, who has also been in a number of movies I’ve been watching lately: “Memoirs of a Geisha”, “Babel”, and “The Choice of Hercules.

Link of the Day
Via this modern world this story about a group of conservative writers suing their publishing house is too rich for satire.

The authors argue that in reducing royalty payments, the publisher is maximizing its profits and the profits of its parent company at their expense...

Mr. Miniter said. “It suddenly occurred to us that Regnery is making collectively jillions of dollars off of us and paying us a pittance.” He added: “Why is Regnery acting like a Marxist cartoon of a capitalist company?”...

The authors, who say in the lawsuit that Eagle has been “unjustly enriched well in excess of one million dollars,” are seeking unspecified damages. But Mr. Miniter said, “We’re not looking for a payoff; we’re looking for justice.”

It's too easy I'm not even going to comment. You can write in your own satire.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I loved the original Japanese version. I thought it was elegant and beautifully shot. One of those hidden gems as far as I am concerned.