Thursday, November 17, 2011

Going to Tokyo?

If you live in Toronto and are interested in Japanese cinema make sure to check out the Shinsedai Cinema Festival, which is programmed by Chris Magee and Jasper Sharp. The festival will take place some time in July 2012 at the Revue Cinema. - D.D.

Title: World Film Locations: Tokyo
Editor: Chris Magee
Publisher: Intellect Ltd.
Pages: 128
Price: 18$
More a tour guide then pure film criticism, Intellect Books' new series World Film Locations - with ones on London, New York, Los Angeles, and Tokyo - are a welcome introduction through the movies to the famous buildings and neighborhoods of these various cities. The books are divided into six separate sections dedicated to the different districts. All of them being preceded by a map of the city with numbered indicators locating where the scenes took place. Each entry includes a description of, and pictures from the scene. As well a current picture of the location that allows you to compare how it is presented in the film with how it looks now.

Chris Magee who edited the boook also writes a nice introduction and pieces on Tokyo March (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1929), a rare pre-war portrait of Tokyo; Pom Poko (Isao Takahata, 1994), Kikujiro (Takeshi Kitano 1999), Fear and Trembling (Alain Corneau, 2003), Confessions of a Dog (Gen Takahashi, 2006), and Retribution (Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2006). I would also recommend Marc Saint-Cyr's piece on The Yakuza (Sydney Pollack, 1974). A lot of the contributors to the book also contributed to the other Intellect book Directory of World Cinema: Japan.

The essays in the book help contextualize the films within Tokyo's cultural and political history, within the genres of Japanese cinema, the restrictions of filming in the post-WWII era, the director Yasojiro Ozu, and anime. The essay's include Jon Jung's Tokyo: City of The Imagination, Eric Evans' Worst of Times/Best of Times: Post-War Tokyo in Film, Samuel Jamier's Tokyo Must Burn! The End of The World Through Anime Eyes, John Berra's Tokyo Stories: The Humanistic Cityscape of Yasujiro Ozu, Roberta Novielli's Strangers Among Us: A Cinematic View of Immigrants in Tokyo, Steven Sarrazin's Shinjuku: Dawn is West, and Reiko Tahara's Edo: Old Tokyo resurrected on film.The two page long entries are well researched and well written. While the choices of films are interesting as they include political works and documentaries. While also including some unexpected Tokyo films like those made by foreign directors to the city like Samuel Fuller's House of Bamboo (1955), Wim Wenders' Tokyo-Ga (1985), Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation (2003), and Gaspar Noé's Enter the Void (2009).

The entries try to do justice to all of Central Tokyo's twenty-three wards, and beyond. But it just so happens that some of the wards are more cinematic then the others ; so they get more attention. And the contributions by locals and people that have visited the city give the book an insider-like quality. As if you are walking the backstreets of the city with your own personal guide. There are recommendations of where you can go for a drink or a meal (the famous La Jetée), what hotel to stay at, where to shop, and information about the subway stations. I would recommend World Film Locations: Tokyo, and all of the titles in the series, to any cinephile that will be traveling to these cities. - David Davidson

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Rent said...
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