pt anderson blogathon @ moon in the gutter

My film blogging comrade over at Moon in the Gutter, Jeremy Richey, is hosting a P.T. Anderson blogathon September 13-19 and it will no doubt be an entertaining, exciting event.  I’m contributing an essay–not sure which film I’ll be focusing on yet–and I can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with.  I wrote a short piece about Anderson’s Punch-Drunk Love in my first book, a film that is (I feel) one of the best of the last decade and a rather damn fine romantic comedy at that, so there’s always the temptation to revisit it… maybe do some screengrabs or something.  But I’ve been dying to write about There Will Be Blood since I saw it in January 2008 the day before I left for Europe and then watched again in the Leitrim Cinemobile when I was living in Ireland.  Seriously, some enterprising cinephiles in the States need to bring cinema to the masses with trucks like these.  They’re great.  And they’re warm too, which was surprising since it’s always so damn cold in Ireland year round!  Also, the cool thing about the Leitrim Cinemobile was that it would screen international films and smaller indie fare from the States… not blockbusters.  This was out in the boondocks, mind you.  We didn’t live in the city.  And these were real 35mm prints, not DVDs or digital projections.  Real films, real patrons in seats, and loads of arguments afterward as you scurried down the pub for a few pints.  Make sure to check out the video below that gives you a glimpse of how cool the Leitrim Cinemobile is.  But I digress.

P.T. Anderson.  Blogathon.  Moon in the Gutter.  That has Awesome all over it.

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directory of world cinema: japan vol. 1

I just wanted to inform you all about a new film guide just out entitled the Directory of World Cinema: Japan, edited by John Berra and published by Intellect Books.  I contributed a number of film reviews to it and an essay on the yakuza genre as well.  From what I understand, the book will be updated annually, and I’ll have a few reviews in the volume two edition also.

Whether it’s kill-crazy yakuza hipsters, a taciturn ronin who talks best with his sword, gigantic rubber-suited atomic monsters battling their genetic equals while scared Tokyoites watch on helplessly, tender portrayals of everyday people just trying to get through another day with some semblance of dignity, genre-bending new wave revolutionaries, or blood curdling tales of ghosts, demons, and horrors from beyond the realm of sanity–Japanese cinema has long been a consistent goldmine for the intrepid world cinema-goer.  Although Japan was producing films since the beginning of the medium, its bounty of cinematic offerings only really flourished into the outside world in the post-World War Two era when directors like Akira Kurosawa (Rashomon, 1950), Kenji Mizoguchi (The Life of Oharu, 1952), Teinosuke Kinugasa (Gate of Hell, 1953), and Yasujiro Ozu (Tokyo Story, 1953) gained considerable notice from film festivals abroad with their respective films.  There was also, of course, the mighty Gojira (aka Godzilla) that stomped into cinemas in 1954 and would arguably become Japan’s most visible and popular cinematic export for decades.  Regardless of their entertainment value (which is high in my opinion), the kaiju movies unfortunately also gave many moviegoers–who wouldn’t know their Kurosawa from their Ozu–the wrong impression regarding the quality of Japanese films.  Unfortunately, for those who only knew about Japanese films via Godzilla, Rodan, Monster X, and the Smog Monster–films that were routinely shown on American televisions in horribly but hilariously English dubbed versions–the idea of Japan offering up anything other than plastic monster mashes was probably unfathomable.

But time and the luxury of modern technology has erased those impressions, I think.  The availability of classic Japanese films on DVD from Kurosawa, Mizoguchi, Ozu, et al, and the emergence of such disparate contemporary directors as Hayao Miyazaki, Satoshi Kon, Hirokazu Kore-eda, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Takashi Miike, and Takeshi Kitano, has been a bounty for film enthusiasts the world over as more and more of their work has become available.  And if you’re a genre fan, the availability of previously obscure kaiju, chambara, yakuza, J-Horror, anime, and pink films, has grown as well, although there is still much left untapped.

If you’ve never watched a Japanese film before or your appreciation runs no deeper than Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, but you want to plunge further although you really don’t know where to start… picking up a copy of the new Directory of World Cinema: Japan is a great place to begin.  And if your insights into Japanese cinema are well-honed and you’ve moved far beyond the established critically lauded films, I think you’ll still find plenty of valuable well-informed analysis in it.

The book is now available in the UK here, and it will be available in the US via The University of Chicago Press in April.  You can pre-order your US copies here.

interview with me over at moon in the gutter

Jeremy Richey, proprietor of the groovy Moon in the Gutter blog, was gracious enough to invite me to participate in a Q & A session and help spread the word about my new book which is now out in the US.  Well, Amazon is selling it.  Other bookstores–brick and mortar as well as virtual–should have it available on September 1.