I love film. I try to watch a video a night. Since I live in Japan and Japanese ticket prices are usually above $20 per person, I try to only go when I have free passes or somebody else is paying. The truth is that I don't mind missing out on new movies because there are so many great videos to rent. I rent at least four videos a week, my wife might rent four more herself, and since they are always Japanese movies I try to watch along and learn a little about Japanese film. I have made some great finds this way; unfortunately none of them have English subtitles, so my understanding of the film is usually based on visual cues.
To make up for the lack of current releases, I know a few fellow expats who have kind relatives who send them videos regularly - recent films as well as the Simpsons, Seinfeld, etc. Currently I am watching the first season of "the Sopranos" and loving it.
Besides new releases being expensive, actually, there is another bad point about living in Japan - movies usually open much later than they do back home. For example, "Toy Story 2" was a spring movie in 2000. Naturally videos come out much later than that. There is no point trying to keep up, although a subscription to "Sight And Sound" magazine does go a long way. The flip side of that, though, is the availability of great Japanese films. For example, we can see new Takeshi or Ojima or Godzilla movies before anybody in other countries can, and videos are available for rental that might never get released overseas, great things like "Ring," "Swallowtail Butterfly," or "Shark Muscle Boy and Peach Hip Girl." Has anybody outside of Japan even heard of these films? I've actually SEEN them and they changed my life.
Back and forth. I do have one more gripe about film. There are several films that I have been unable to rent that I would love to see. Topping the list is "the Wild Bunch." I have rented great Sam Peckinpah movies in Japan, like "Straw Dogs" and "Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia", why is his most infamous not available here? Amazingly, "Purple Rain" is not available for rental. In the past I couldn't imagine a world without accessibility to Prince's finest film, but now I'm living in it!
Other films on my hot list are:
"A Woman In Flames"
"Bound For Glory"
"Lost In America"
"the Guyver 2" (David Hayter, a guy I went to high school with starred in this movie)
"Once A Time In The West"
"Flirting With Disaster"
"The Fearless Vampire Killers; or, Pardon Me, But Your Teeth Are In My Neck."
"Valley Of The Dolls"
"Beyond the Valley Of The Dolls."
"Play Misty For Me."
"The Falcon And The Snowman."
"At Close Range."
"The Next Voice You Hear."
"The Killing Of A Chinese Bookie."
"Welcome To The Dollhouse."
"Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore."
"Once Were Warriors."
"Death Race 2000."
"The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai..."
"After Dark, My Sweet."
"Meet The Feebles."
"They Shoot Horses, Don't They?"
"In The Company of Men."
"A Shot In The Dark" (the second Pink Panther movie)
"the Blob." (1958, with Steve McQueen)
and of course "Apartment Zero."
There is one Japanese film I am jonesing to see that seems to be unavailable. It is "Golgo 13", an old movie from the ealy '70s starring the amazing Takakura Ken, adapted from a hardboiled comic book about a killer. My wife has told me I look like old Golgo, so I wanna see the film. I am also intrigued by the fact that it has an all-gaijin cast - outside of Ken-san, everybody else is Iranian or something. I'm intrigued - aren't you?
I love films so much I want to spend endless time trading opinions - it is what dominates conversation in the beer hall instead of sports among the people I know around here. If you have made some great video finds recently, please let me know by email. Otherwise, please check out my other film pages:
Video list 2000 (in 2000 I saw about 250
Video list 1999 (in 1999 I saw about 250 videos)
Film reviews of some of the fine films I have seen recently.
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