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Reading a Japanese Film: Cinema in Context…
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Reading a Japanese Film: Cinema in Context

by Keiko I. McDonald

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We are a family of anime watchers. I would hazard a guess that three quarters of what we watch is anime. Recently we've gone through a run of very surreal series. And that got my husband and me talking about what cultural influences might be behind these abstract series.

Long story short, a Google Book search brought up an interesting chapter about My Neighbor Totoro (Tonari no Totoro). While not exactly on topic for the conversation on hand, it was still too tempting a snipet to leave unread. So I found a copy via Link+ and voil‡!

Reading a Japanese Film: Cinema in Context by Keiko I. McDonald is a beginner's guide to understanding some key Japanese films, though not necessarily the most famous ones. These essays aren't exactly film theory in that there's a lot of time spent in these essays just describing the action on the screen, rather than putting those things into a larger perspective or cultural reading.

Along with the essays, though, there is a introduction and a conclusion that offers the history of Japanese cinema. The historical perspective is where this book excels. I wish there was more history and less attempt at film analysis.

So back to the original question: is there a tie between the French avant-garde and modern day anime? Yes, along with American, German, and Russian, because Japan has repeatedly sent filmmakers overseas to learn from other industries. But to answer the question is there a specific chain of influence between the recent anime we've watched and France, this isn't the book. ( )
  pussreboots | Jan 24, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 082482993X, Paperback)

In recent years, the popularity and availability of Japanese films in the West—including but not limited to those belonging to the animation and horror genres—have resulted in new, more diverse audiences for some of the most critically acclaimed and thoroughly entertaining films ever made. Reading a Japanese Film, written by a pioneer of Japanese film studies in the United States, provides many of these viewers with the necessary tools to construct a deeper understanding of Japanese cinema. In her introduction, Keiko McDonald presents a historical overview for those with little or no knowledge of Japanese cinema and outlines a unified approach to film analysis. Sixteen "readings" of films currently available on DVD with English subtitles put theory into practice as she considers a wide range of work, from familiar classics by Yasujiro Ozu (Floating Weeds), Kenji Mizoguchi (Sisters of Gion), and Akira Kurosawa (Drunken Angel), to the films of a younger generation of directors, including Hirokazu Koreeda’s Maboroshi, Yoshimitsu Morita’s The Family Game, Takeshi Kitano’s Kids Return, and Naomi Kawase’s Suzaku. Specific genres are also represented. Shiro Toyoda’s melodramatic The Mistress adapts a work of Japanese literature. Kaneto Shindo’s Onibaba is a horror film with socio-political overtones. My Neighbor Totoro is a beloved anime by Oscar-winner Hayao Miyazaki. The Japanese commitment to period film is examined via Hiroshi Inagaki’s classic Musashi trilogy. Suitably analytic yet thoroughly accessible, this work will become a staple of Asian film studies courses and enrich any cinema lover’s appreciation of Japanese film.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:58 -0400)

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