- Additional 10% Off Listed Price Will Be Applied at Checkout Here's how (restrictions apply)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $5.34 shipping
Contemporary Japanese Film Paperback – November 1, 1999
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Special offers and product promotions
About the Author
Mark Schilling set off for Japan in 1975 to immerse himself in the culture, learn the language, and haunt the theaters. He has been there ever since. In 1989 he became a regular film reviewer for the Japan Times, and has written on Japanese film for a variety of other publications, including Screen International, the Japan edition of Premier, the Asian edition of Newsweek, Asian Wall Street Journal, Japan Quarterly, Winds, Cinemaya, and Kinema Jumpo.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Shilling is a fine film critic and clearly knowledgeable about the modern Japanese film industry. However, either he or his editors do not know how to assemble this knowledge into a useful book. Several of the essays overlap, with the same information in each. For instance, Shilling is clearly a fan of Iwai Shunji's film "Swallowtail," as it is introduced, described and critiqued in several essays, without any acknowledgement that it was introduced only a few pages before in a different essay. Also, several concepts, such as block-booking movies and advanced ticket sales to drive up box office, are talked about but never adequately explained for non-familiar readers.
In addition, although it looks like a thick and potent read, more than half of the book, 250 pages out of a 388 page book, is film reviews, culled from Shilling's column in the English-language Japan times. The majority of these films are not available to Western audiences.
All of this may sound terrible, but the content that is here is of good quality, and once one gets over the initial disappointment of the mis-labeled title, there are a few kernels of insight to pull out of the pages. Probably the most interesting section is the directors interviews, showcasing such luminaries as Kurosawa Akira, Takahata Isao, Itami Juzo, Suo Masayuki (Shall we dance?) and Kitano Takeshi. There are some glaring oversights, such as no Suzuki Seijun, Miike Takashi or Miyazaki Hayao, but I suppose he can't have covered everyone in his newspaper work.
As a book about contemporary Japanese film, it is a failure. As a collection of non-related essays, interviews and film reviews from someone with knowledge and history of modern Japanese film, it is successful.
According to Schilling, there were some new beams of light in the Japanese cinema of the '90s. Leading the pack is filmmaker Takeshi "Beat" Kitano, who has already gotten serious attention in the States and Europe for his stylized gangster films, such as Sonatine (1993); and the hysterical films by the late (and very much missed) Juzo Itami, who made the culinary adventure Tampopo. So it is not surprising that the two most interesting interviews in the book are with these filmmakers. Takeshi must be the hardest-working man in the world: He makes at least two films a year plus eight television episodes a week. He tells a funny story about how on one talk show dealing with food and drink; he fell asleep on television due to the alcohol. The other guests just went on their merry way while commenting every so often on Takeshi's sleeping habits. He claims that there is no pressure doing that much television shows because nothing is planned; it is even relaxing. It is worth noting that, on the side, he has a career as a kind of Japanese David Letterman.
As for Itami, who is known for his television acting as well as his films, his interview focuses on how contemporary Japanese culture is conveyed in different aspects of his film work. Itami has made fun of everything from family practice (The Funeral) to the Japanese Mafia, the Yakuza (as a result, he had his face slashed by a Yakuza member).
The second half of the book includes nearly 400 Japanese film reviews by Schilling, published originally in the Japan Times. I would recommend this book not only to film fans, but also to readers who are interested in contemporary Japanese culture. Schilling, along with American journalist Donald Ritchie, has excellent insight into what makes Japan tick, and also understands the nature of kitsch in Japanese culture