entertainment

3 reasons Japanese movies today suck, according to distributor and producer Adam Torel

86 Comments
By RocketNews24

Ever get the feeling that Japanese cinema isn’t as good as it used to be? You’re not alone.

it would be unfair to say that all Japanese films stink these days. Adam Torel of Third Window Films will gladly remind you that there are still great filmmakers in Japan, such as Tetsuya Nakashima and Yoshihiro Nakamura to name a few.

But when it comes to major productions, like a certain titan slaying franchise, Japanese studios can’t seem to put together a solid product. This is worrisome for Torel, whose company has a vested interest in Asian movies being good so that they can promote and distribute them in the west. We’ll have to forgive him, then, if he doesn’t exactly mince his words when discussing Japan’s cinematic offerings:

“Even major productions like 'Attack on Titan' are worse than a low-budget American TV show. Is this not embarrassing? Among Asian films South Korea and China have been hard at work. On the other hand, Japan has been steadily lowering the bar. Japanese cinema used to be the most highly regarded in Asia, but now South Korea, China, Taiwan, and Thailand have been stealing their thunder. The quality of Japanese movies is really low. I’ve come to hate them.”

Again, he’s not referring to all movies here, but a trend in mainstream cinema that has gone on for a while now. In an interview with Sankei Shimbun, Torel laid out three reasons why he thinks the Japanese film industry has been on the decline.

#1 Production Committees

Torel’s biggest concern with the industry is what is known as the "Seisaku Inkai Hoshiki" or Production Committee System. He describes this as a panel of corporate investors who play a large role in the making of the film in order to minimize the risk to their investment. Since creativity and risk tend to go hand in hand, it’s not hard to see the flaw in this system.

For every one good film, there have been scores of bland adaptations.

To give a sense of the scope of the Production Committee System, Torel points out that in Japan people seldom know the director of the movies they watch. In American or British cinema, viewers often chose a movie solely—or at least partly—on the reputation of the person directing it, but in Japan, aside from old-school names like Miyazaki or Miike, you’d be hard-pressed to find a director whose name alone would sell tickets.

Torel goes as far as to say that in many cases current directors are merely a “puppet” of the Production Committee.

#2 Low pay

Torel also claims that the cast and crew of Japanese movies aren’t compensated enough for their work. Of course, as human nature dictates, if one doesn’t feel they are getting paid enough, they don’t put in their full effort, even in Japan where the cash-to-performance output of people is well above the developed world average.

That being said, Japan is a long way behind Hollywood when it comes to cash to splash on movie productions. However, in Third Window Films’ own "Gesu No Ai" (Lowlife Love), the lack of funds was made up for in royalties. “Wouldn’t it be fair for everyone to share in the film’s success?” asks Torel.

#3 No accountability

Finally, Torel also notices that Japanese critics, somewhat ironically, don’t do a whole lot of critiquing in their movie reviews. “Japanese critics don’t say if a movie is no good even if they are thinking it. On the contrary, they’ll call it ‘amazing.’ Why do they do that?”

Aside from the spectacular critical disgust against the "Attack on Titan" films, Japanese critics really don’t spend time focusing on the negative. This is partly because in Japan the old saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” is a pretty golden.

So a critic will tell you if a movie isn’t very good but not directly, and they’ll choose their words very carefully.

Although it’s possible to read between the lines, it can be confusing. And in some cases, the cold hard truth could be just what some movie makers need to step up their game.

As a rule in Japan, when a foreigner like Torel comes in and starts pointing out the country’s short-comings, it generally doesn’t go over too well with the locals, regardless of who’s actually in the right. In this particular instance, however, it seems a lot of Japanese agree with Torel’s assessment of their country’s movie industry, and many thought he was being too kind if anything.

“Only recently? It’s always been like that.” “It is embarrassing.” “It’s very embarrassing.” “It’s seriously third-rate.” “Seriously, Japan’s video technology is like 20 years behind.” “Isn’t it? It’s all crap tied in with AKB, Johnnys and Exile.” “Japanese movies died with Kurosawa. It will never come back.” “Japanese cinema has been dead for about a decade now. It’s just an extension of television.”

The industry may be on the rocks, but you also have to hand it to Torel and Third Window Films, since they aren’t simply whining about the state of Japanese cinema here; they’re putting their money where their mouths are and investing in talented directors like Sion Sono, Tetsuya Nakashima, and Yosuke Fujita by producing their films. The company is also restoring older films by Beat Takeshi ("Hana-bi,""Dolls") and Shinya Tsukamoto ("Tetsuo: The Iron Man") for Blu-ray release overseas, and recently distributed a modern gem of Japanese film, Ken Ochiai’s "Uzumasa Limelight," on the big screen in the UK and aims to bring it to DVD and Blu-ray soon.

Certainly the talent is here in Japan. What’s lacking is an environment where worthy artists can get the backing they need to fully express themselves. Until that can be achieved, mediocrity will continue to rule the cinematic landscape.

Sources: Sankei Shimbun, Yahoo! Japan News, Itai News, Third Window Films

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- 4 Japanese beauty fads that Westerners just don’t understand -- Fashion advice – Almost half of Japanese women say they don’t like guys wearing tank tops -- Don’t trust your eyes! Let these unique pieces of art challenge your perception of reality

© Japan Today

©2018 GPlusMedia Inc.


86 Comments
Login to comment

I'd like to take the opportunity to add that not only Japanese movies suck, even the English movies that come in. The good ones get banned, and the ones selected for showing are sometimes not heard of abroad. Why is it that as well? I really don't understand. As for Japanese movies, there's just too much anime, too much noise, and too violently boring. Cinemas are always bare..another thing I've noticed is that they show one movie Japanese or foreigne for such a long time before they put on new showings. Two, three movies at the same time in one cinema mall and for weeks...isn't that a waste of just about everything?

6 ( +10 / -5 )

Japanese movies today suck

Back in the 90's Takashi Miike made a couple flicks enjoyed in US & Europe. But even his movies, back then, were hit / miss.

I saw Lupin thr 3rd recently on Netflix. I was thinking like what? Really? Is this the best they can do? It was embarrassing.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

He didn't even mention Beat Takeshi thank god.

Movie acting here is just like their tv drama acting. It is so artificial and fake not representing reality at all.

15 ( +18 / -3 )

The best Japanese movies will always be the Ghibli animated films. Spirited Away is still one of my all time favorite movies.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Yes, nail - head Adam. Look at Japan's neighbour South Korea. The quality of movies they produce is completely different. The last really good movie I can remember was Okuribito and Confessions.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

These are my favorite:

“Japanese movies died with Kurosawa. It will never come back.”

“Japanese cinema has been dead for about a decade now. It’s just an extension of television.”

It's weird for me. It's like most of the dramas have to have this style where the camera spends WAY too much time, not moving, on one person. I hope that makes sense. I tried to watch one on the plane going to the states. It sounded good; about the last book being printed and the government trying to confiscate all books, or something like that. Kind of like Fahrenheit 451. I couldn't get 15 minutes into it. Too much gunplay, too much hero drama, too much phoniness.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Certainly the talent is here in Japan.

This MAY be true in the production side of things , but when it comes to acting, famous young talento are chosen for major roles almost every time.

They don't have the depth of ability to pull off anything but the light comedy roles.

These movies can compete in Asia where the taleto are know, but cannot be exported or stand up against movies with real actors.

OKURIBITO was great but that was a long time ago.

14 ( +16 / -2 )

I don't even know who is this guy. Anyway live actions are different from normal movies. It's obvious for live actions being unrealistic because they are adaptations of comics, and the acting is similar to how the characters act in cartoons. Movies that are not live actions are different. It's only that live actions are very popular,even more than normal movies, because their source is already very popular. Not a big problem. Both live actions and normal movies can be enjoyable, but you have not expect high quality from live actions, even though some of them are really nice.

-17 ( +3 / -20 )

I've seen very few Japanese actors who didn't come off as if they were acting. Not believable at all.

13 ( +16 / -3 )

Wooden actors and predictable scripts.

Every movie seems to have the following scenes:

Guy: Stands zombie like with a vacant look on his face. He then starts shouting at the girl. he then starts crying to the girl. He then say's sorry and they make up.

Girl: Stands there zombie like with vacant look on her face. She then starts shouting at the guy. She then starts crying at the guy. She then say's sorry and they make up.

Little girl or boy: Is in hospital or has some incurable illness. Cries throughout the whole movie. may have a few cutie scenes just to show how cute they are.

The tough guy: Shouts and rolls his R's throughout the movie.

Everyone else: Just stands zombie like in the background of every scene. Contributing nothing to the storyline. But much like TV shows Japanese feel a certain comfort in numbers.

23 ( +27 / -4 )

I disagree about the fact most of Japanese people agree with him. Japanese box office is dominated by Japanese movies, mainly live actions. And it's okay like that. Not every country must prefer foreign movies.

-14 ( +6 / -20 )

I agree with Marilita Fabie-Fujisawa's comment. It's not just the Japanese movies that suck. Recent American movies are in the same category. In the first five minutes at the beginning of the movie, you know what the ending is going to be and you know that the intervening hour or so is going to be filled with death and destruction.

-6 ( +5 / -11 )

Alex - you are correct - not every country must prefer foreign films.

But this article focusses on the low(er) quality of domestic films and puts forward valid reasons.

A very interesting point was that directors are not so well known by the public. That probably indicates there is a thumb down on the artistic / creative expression of the directing individuals.

While top actors the world over are well known, it's the directors that probably are held in greatest awe & admiration and many are household names.

Apparently in Japan this isn't the case and is reflected in the mediocre nature of the cinema industry.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

Storytelling on film is different in every country. Japan is not a cinema storytelling country anymore like it once was long ago. Now after Itami juzo, j-cinema is dead. Anime and manga sensibilities have taken over. And that's what culture cultures apparently want. R. I. P.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Recent American movies are in the same category. In the first five minutes at the beginning of the movie, you know what the ending is going to be and you know that the intervening hour or so is going to be filled with death and destruction.

You watch too many movies ;)

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Cultuure vultures.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

It's the quota system: you have to have a certain percentage of Johnny's stooges cluttering up the set, otherwise you won't get the finished movie distributed. The director is fighting with at least one arm tied behind his (almost never her) back.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

cluelessAPR. 12, 2016 - 08:33AM JST

Wooden actors and predictable scripts.

Every movie seems to have the following scenes...

Not to mention at least one person saying "arigato" in the most soulful and heartfelt manner their meagre acting talents allow.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

I'm amazed that the blaringly obvious hasn't been mentioned - the rampant typecasting. Need a hopeless romantic? Johnny's member. Can't sing, let alone act - but there are vested interests at stake here! Need a high school love story? (never understood their appeal here) again cast a Johnny's member, an AKB member or a mix of both.

Action movie? Usual same few actors. OL / salaryman love story? Again, sa,e handful of actors (of which their names have escaped me).

Just this ongoing rinse-repeat cycle, like everything else in Japan's "entertainment" industry. And people wonder why the country is going down the toilet.

11 ( +14 / -3 )

The part about Seisaku iinkai system is correct where they do not take any risks nor any responsibilities. The biggest problem is they are not interested in making entertainment but more concerned about gathering money so they can develop the project. So first they gather names that already has a firm fan base namely Jonneys and other talento but this is nothing special, Hollywood does the same casting big name actors. The fail is once they gather names they do not place any other effort or emphasis in other details that makes a movie good like a good script and they place little money on camera works making a bad movie worse. The problem that under lies in all of this is that there are no talented producers and there is very little emphasis in training one with the present Seisaku Inkai system. Producer's job is project management in which they allocate and balance the budget and manage schedule. In present system the director is expected to do schedule management and budget allocation is up for grabs to who ever has the mucles which is the biggest problem.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

1 Production Committees

Almost all Japanese animation movies are produced by "production committees", and they are doing OK.

2 Low pay

Stuff at animation production are paid even less and still they are doing OK.

3 No accountability

Movie goers know better than to believe in critics.

These 3 things are hardly any reasons that Japanese films are bad.

-9 ( +2 / -11 )

There's still a few gems left. Hirokazu Koreeda and Mamoru Hosoda are worthy of mention, although they don't receive as much attention as they should.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

With animation production you don't need big name talento with a huge fan base to promise viewers since there is a fan base for anime and they are more interested in the entertainment value of the content then any talento's voice. So the Seisaku Iinkai system for anime are more geared into gaining big name titles of the original book(script).

Anime directors have more control over the overall production since they are part of the Seisaku Inkai themselves being associated with the anime production companies. Big names like IG Production have a strong script writing division as well.

The problem with low pay is still there with anime production but peer view has a stronger incentive making gaining recognition so they can one day be a big shot director in the anime world. This is also supported by the high grade paying viewers.

Basically there is a big difference in fan base and their level of tolerance in quality.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Yes, there is a huge difference in quality between good and bad movies in Japan. To some extent it's always been that way though. In samurai movies for example you get files of foot soldiers and mounted warriors rushing together through the woods in scene after scene, as though they both run at the same speed. In the same way in more modern situations you get repeated shots of the chase scene where one lover or family member runs endlessly after the departing bus, as if there is no difference in speed. Police cars screech to a halt with the same tyre/tire sound on any surface, although they are not travelling very fast to begin with.

Maybe Japan should have their own version of Rotten Tomatoes.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

American movies have been poor for the last few years as well, they are really scraping the barrel! The only American film I've watched in the recent past is that new Star Wars film.

Nevertheless, both in Japan and America, a gem occasionally appears! I've seen a couple of great Japanese films and dramas recently.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

My suggestion to Adam is to bring over the Razzie award to Japan with an emphasis on worst producers,directors and actors and tell them why they were nominated. I believe it's a good start in creating a constructive criticism to Japanese film.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I did like Sion Sono's "Cold Fish"....I think that is the last Japanese flick I really enjoyed.

As far as Asian cinema....."Aftershock"...I think that was Chinese and "I saw the Devil"...Korean? Those were awesome.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

CH3CHOAPR. 12, 2016 - 09:59AM JST

Stuff at animation production are paid even less and still they are doing OK.

Oh really?

Receiving responses from 759 of the 2,652 members it contacted, Janica (Japan Animation Creators Association) calculated that an animator’s average workday lasts 11 hours. Their average compensation for such marathon shifts? A paltry 1,100,000 yen (US$9,240) a year. It’s not like animators are cramming in 11 hours at the studio so they can take the next day off, either. 54.9 percent of the respondents reported having four or fewer days off a month, and that includes weekends. http://en.rocketnews24.com/2015/04/29/want-to-be-an-animator-in-japan-brace-yourself-for-long-hours-poverty-as-you-start-your-career/

Doesn't sound like they're "doing ok" to me.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Japanese cinema has become rather self-referential: many movies are movie adaptations of manga, and there are lots of movies that don't make sense if you have not seen the TV-drama, or you don't know the actors and their characters.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

It's been like this for a long time, I haven't watched a Japanese TV show or movie in years and have no plans to anymore

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Clueless' comment nails this.

The other scene I keep seeing is where the pouting female lead goes off on some judge-and-jury rant about a main male character that ends with "hidoi desho!", and then slaps him in the face. He says nothing, but reacts by touching his cheek in an act of contemplation.

God help any blokes that have to put up with that in their own home.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

The larger scale problem for Japan is that culturally, the nail that stands out gets hammered back in.

Because of this, there is conceptually a problem in catering to the every day consumer, by marketing being prioritized, to the point where things like fashion, music and films are made based on how an investor believes that product sells to the public, and not on the creative process.

In essence, the tail wags the dog, because the public and thru it, the money men, do not have the keen sense of awareness nor the appreciation of artistic value, and that is the ingredient missing in all creative fields. The truest of talents in Japan, are closer to being homeless than supported to do their work with integrity. These types may have special talents, but are driven back into the floor board, because they do stand out as different.

What results is hiring of lackey types that lack the artistic depth and drive to keep true to themselves, and for anyone who creates things, that is the death of great work.

For people with artistic integrity, they are thought of as either too difficult or selfish and hard to work with, which may be true, if false harmony is the goal over substance.

The creator has to guide the masses by originality and vision, they cannot be controlled by the consumer, who is not only prioritized in Japan, but isn't all that savvy. It's marketing and the very reason why really poor 'talents' rise, here. The public consumer has poor taste and is ignorant. That they essentially control the creative process, thru corporate catering is ludicrous, and is a major flaw in Japan, as original expression and art really does matter in human life. To stifle artistic expression is just the dumbest thing, on such a basic level, but Japan doesn't get that, because the nail cannot stand out.

Kurosawa fought this. He, of such fame, was living with such a forced minimal life style, an American producer who met him at his home in Japan was shocked how such a great man was not living in luxury, rather was a monetarily poor man. Kurosawa had integrity, but he was not appreciated for this enough. In Japan, some dumb false title or recognition or rank on a piece of paper signed by some 'authority' is more important than the truth. That's silly, and has led to money going to dumb marketing to just make money, and not on the all important factor of creating great things for the human spirit.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Doesn't sound like they're "doing ok" to me.

The survey received answers from only one-third of those contacted, so it can hardly be called representative for animators at large. The ones most likely to respond would be those who had the most negative things to say.

I have no doubt that the average salary is low due to the incredibly large number of people who want to do animation work. Who wouldn't want to sit at a table and draw all day rather than work in factory, office, or restaurant? The pay one receives for a particular job is higher when it requires a long education, is exceedingly difficult, or is distasteful. None of these apply to animation.

As for the quality of Japanese movies, it is certainly awful. The stories are predictable, contrived, overacted, and seemingly produced for people with IQ's under 80. It would be nice if Japan permitted foreign studios to make movies in Japan, it would probably be a positive influence. Instead, movies like "Memoirs of a Geisha", "The Last Samurai", or even "Tokyo Drift" could not be filmed in Japan, and had to be made in the Philippines or California.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

About the committee system, its true that (financial) risk aversion and creativity dont go well together, but Im not sure this is particularly different in Japan from Hollywood. The financial backers of films there play a pretty heavy role too and have obviously steered most of the money into projects of dubious creative value (ie Michael Bay stuff) that nonetheless does well on the international (ie Chinese) market.

I kind of suspect that one of the reasons for the horrible films is simply the captive nature of the market. You have a pretty limited number of agencies controlling all the "talent" so their isn't much competition for Japanese language films, and they can squeeze out any independents from the distribution system. Its also almost impossible for people within that system to leave it and pursue projects that are developed outside of it, which is quite different from the US where once a director or actor has established themselves they get a lot more clout.

The American film industry before the 1950s was actually organized kind of similarly to the way the Japanese industry is today, at least in terms of the ability of studios to control talent like that through the contracts they made them sign. A few court cases which actors won against studios based on anti-trust law basically smashed that system and gave creators a lot more independence that they have today. Japanese actors and directors don't have that advantage.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Only if you really like just the same talent dressed like junior high school acting on movies like they do on dramas, horrible acting with characters doing stupid things like clowns running on a low class circus, lacking deep story it seems, everything is predictable from the main movie cover. Cheap mediocrity took over real talented people, like in all the entertainment industry in Japan, movie, music, games, etc...

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Rurouni Kenshin movies are pretty good. I read that the fight choreographer was a student of Donnie Yen. Maybe that's Japanese movie problem, they don't learn from other countries, because of fear of becoming "none-pure" Japanese movie or some silly notion.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Instead, movies like "Memoirs of a Geisha", "The Last Samurai", or even "Tokyo Drift" could not be filmed in Japan, and had to be made in the Philippines or California.

You mean some of those scenes from Black Rain were not actually filmed in Osaka? I've been fooled all these years.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Only if you really like just the same talent dressed like junior high school acting on movies like they do on dramas, horrible acting with characters doing stupid things like clowns running on a low class circus...

I was watching two of the teachers at my daughter's kindergarten put on a skit during an event and I'm sure they were just about as good as any actors you might have to endure in Japanese films or TV shows.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Most actors & actresses in Japan just want to be on variety shows where they get paid just to ask stupid questions and laugh. Further, many singers here cross over to acting -- could you imagine Lady Gaga as a police detective??

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Well most stand-up comedians find themselves on the big screen as well as some rap singers so if they actually have acting talent then why not but I admit many are there for name value only.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Just watched 'An'. That was a nice little piece of quality cinema.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Torei is bang on, and you do have to give him credit for putting his money where his mouth is.

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

Simon FostonAPR. 12, 2016 - 11:12AM JST

Receiving responses from 759 of the 2,652 members it contacted, Janica (Japan Animation Creators Association) calculated that an animator’s average workday lasts 11 hours. Their average compensation for such marathon shifts? A paltry 1,100,000 yen (US$9,240) a year.

As I have said, animators are paid little. But they still make good products. Low pay is a problem of its own.

"Low pay" is not the cause of low quality Japanese films. Higher pay will not make Japanese films any better.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

You mean some of those scenes from Black Rain were not actually filmed in Osaka? I've been fooled all these years.

Actually huge parts of Black Rain had to be filmed in the US due to problems the filmmakers had with the bureacracy here. The entire climactic battle at the Yakuza country estate was filmed in California for example (which is why it looks nothing like Japan). Take a look at the IMDB entry for Black Rain and it is almost a non stop list of reasons why the film makers found Japan to be a terrible place to make a movie.

Other tidbits include that the director of photography quit half way through because he found filming in Japan so frustrating and director Ridley Scott vowed never to work in the country again. Among their complaints was the fact that if they ever ran even a few minutes over their allotted time, an official would literally start standing in front of their cameras to prevent further filming.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Every time I go to Japan I make an effort to go the cinema... they are always packed and people enjoy the films. What people need to understand is that Japanese films are by and large made for Japanese people, so appeal to Japanese sensibilities and tastes.

Third Window films release a lot of great Japanese films on DVD, but they also release some utter dreck... like Sion Sono films. The fact that Beat Takeshi films are being restored says a lot about what is seen as great Japanese cinema - overly violent films that revel in their violence. For every "Love Exposure" I would rather watch "Librarian Wars".

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

I guess this should have been covered by his third point but movies are a consumer product so the audience must bear some culpability.

Hollywood is churning out super hero movie turds because there is unarguably a huge, committed audience for them.

Surely the diminished critical faculties of the domestic consumer must take a fair portion of the blame ?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I've watched American movie as well, there are lot of missess lately (The Boss anyone?), and don't get me started with Batman v Superman.....

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

The last Japanese movie that I really liked was "Shall We Dance?", from 1996, and I read somewhere that it was not very popular within Japan.

I hadn't given it much thought, but other than anime, the Japanese movie scene lately seems to have been empty. What a shame. It may be true that art cannot be made by a committee, and good movies are art. I grew up loving Japanese movies, they were some of the best in the history of film making. Korean movies and TV in the last 10 years have gotten really good. Chinese movies were good for awhile, but lately have dried up. Taiwan has made some good TV programs, IMO.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

CH3CHOAPR. 12, 2016 - 03:22PM JST

As I have said, animators are paid little. But they still make good products. Low pay is a problem of its own.

So they're "doing ok" in the sense that they make good products? I have no interest whatsoever in Japanese animation so I'll have to take your word for that. And I certainly don't care how good the product is if those are the conditions it gets made under.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Thunderbird2Apr. 12, 2016 - 03:40PM JST Every time I go to Japan I make an effort to go the cinema... they are always packed and people enjoy the films. What people need to understand is that Japanese films are by and large made for Japanese people, so appeal to Japanese sensibilities and tastes.

Japanese movies used to at least have some decent directors and films were sometimes viable abroad. I agree with your assessment on Takeshi films though, I find most of them overly pretentious and nearly identical to one another.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

@rainy day

re. Black Rain

Among their complaints was the fact that if they ever ran even a few minutes over their allotted time, an official would literally start standing in front of their cameras to prevent further filming.

You make it sound like it happened often, but this account makes it sound like it happened once, after they had committed in writing to finish by a specific time:

"Late one afternoon during the production of Black Rain, film director Ridley Scott and his 180-member crew were rushing to get in the last two scheduled shots of the day in a steel mill in Osaka, Japan, when two observers from the steel company began yelling at them to stop.

The film crew was running 15 minutes behind schedule and was about to overshoot the approaching 5 p.m. deadline, production manager Bill Watkins recalled. As Watkins began to stall for time, one of the Japanese mill representatives walked over to the camera and put his hand over the lens.

Not only was the day's shooting ended, but the Black Rain production company was faced with the possible forfeiture of the $40,000 deposit that the mill had required to assure that its restrictions would not be violated. In Japan, unlike in the United States and other Western countries where film crews routinely work overtime, strict shooting schedules are observed to the minute.

The Black Rain company got its $40,000 back, said Watkins, but the mill sequence had to be completed at a plant in California."

http://articles.philly.com/1989-09-24/entertainment/26099746_1_nick-conklin-black-rain-japanese-mob

0 ( +2 / -2 )

All readers back on topic please.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Isn’t it? It’s all crap tied in with AKB, Johnnys and Exile.

This article just HAD to bring in AKB, didn't they?

For the record, I thought that the majority of movie documentaries, if we are to count them among the "terrible" films this article is claiming Japan can only hope to produce, have been all exceptional, particularly all the AKB docs that have come out over the past several years. "THE SHOW MUST GO ON," for example, is not only a revealing and poignant study of what it means to be in an idol group like AKB, but it also was a very thoughtful commentary about the Tsunami disaster.

Sion Sono is making absolutely incredible films consistently. Anytime Miike makes something, for better or worse, it's going to be somewhat provocative or at least engaging enough to make you wonder what you just watched. Beat Takeshi... I mean, Outrage anyone? Hello? And those are just the bigger names I can think of. Just because Attack on Titan didn't do well at the box office doesn't mean there are scores of other great films to find and love and enjoy in Japan.

I found that the fact somebody actually referred to AKB and Exile as "crap" when they are massively successful idol groups, only goes to show that the negative opinion one may have about Japanese movies might stem from the fact that so many of these idol groups like AKB and Exile or Johnny's are in movies made in Japan today. So by extension, a person may not automatically like the film they are watching because of their biases towards these music groups. And that's just sad, especially when a lot of the girls in AKB, for instance, who really aspire to become actors, do so in exceptional ways. Just ask Yuko Oshima... didn't she just win a MAJOR award in Japan for her recent acting in Japanese film? Or all these people who recognized Yuko's achievements just have no idea what they are talking about, being that they, you know, work in film for a living. Meh. I actually like Adam and respect him for doing such hard work in bringing Japanese films to Western audiences, but I really think that the problems aren't with these films being bad, it's with the people who watch these films either not being open-minded enough to enjoy what they are watching, or have been way too spoiled by Western cinema production to realize not everybody wants to spend a zillion dollars on CGI, or just aren't watching all that Japan has to offer in terms of movies. Or they just don't like somebody who is in the movie and that sets them up to not like the movie before it even starts. For the record, I think Japanese films are right up there with everyone else in the world, and it's a shame that Adam could even come out and say something like this at all, as it means now that maybe the people he's worked with to help get their movies distributed won't want to do that anymore, and somebody like me who thrives on Japanese films coming to my shores will be the one to suffer as a result.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

When people watch Japanese films what are they looking for? Japan make action movies, hero movies, monster movies, dramas, comedies, horrors... I've watched many many Japanese films and I can count on one hand the number of them that are terrible... and those are the ones by the likes of Sion Sono (shocks for the sake of it) and his ilk.

There are great little dramas such as "I Wish" and gentle comedies like "Adrift in Tokyo"... great action films by Ryuhei Kitamura and wonderfully quirky films directed by Yuya Ishii... there are tonnes of good Japanese films out there... then again, like everything else it's subjective.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

M.Torel is a good businessman, just the films he distributes are worth the praise of the countless sheep that bowed to him in a series of derogatory comments. "Attack on Titan"? Blaaa, so representative of Jmovies, pfff... and surely Mel Gibson is a master for greek tragedies and AKB48 is indie-rock. There are tons of pleasant flicks made in Japan. I guess many posters are just lazy or ignorant or both or simply they should stick to the western garbage that comes out, in, off and around Hollypooh.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Japan needs to go back to its roots and stop trying to imitate Holywood. They need to evoke the spirit of Kurosawa. Kagemusha and Ran were brilliant films

0 ( +2 / -2 )

As with everything else, you need money to make money. No capital investment to make good movies......so sad.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Those are historical dramas though, Christopher... they can do good modern day mainstream dramas and comedies, action films and... well every genre. Not even Hollywood makes films like Hollywood used to - not even Spielberg makes films like he used to. Tastes change with the times.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

djv124APR. 12, 2016 - 07:11PM JST

I found that the fact somebody actually referred to AKB and Exile as "crap" when they are massively successful idol groups, only goes to show that the negative opinion one may have about Japanese movies might stem from the fact that so many of these idol groups like AKB and Exile or Johnny's are in movies made in Japan today.

The article does rather suggest that this and the other negative opinions voiced are held by Japanese people themselves.

Just ask Yuko Oshima... didn't she just win a MAJOR award in Japan for her recent acting in Japanese film? Or all these people who recognized Yuko's achievements just have no idea what they are talking about, being that they, you know, work in film for a living.

Well, who are they exactly? Members of the production committees or critics that the article refers to? If any of them have anything at all to do with the casting of J-Pop idols in Japanese films then I'm not really surprised by the recognition and accolades.

The

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Ok I'll add Shall we Dance and Hanabi to the list as well. These were done the Japanese way. Generally speaking though, Japanese action films that imitate Hollywood leave much to be desired

2 ( +2 / -0 )

From IMBD: Adam Torel is an actor and producer, known for The Land of Hope (2012), Everyone Is Psychic! (2013) and Lowlife Love (2015).

While this guy's suggestions for improvement are probably valid, every country has B films - lots of them, and the great films are few and far between. My advice - if you're going to make a B film, at least let it be funny.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japanese movies suck because:

the films are made 1) entirely for a domestic market that 2) fills in the gaps left by Hollywood that 3) services sentimental, naval gazing yearnings and sensibilities.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Japan can´t be great about everything and at all times...it also need to catch a breath...and leave room to others as well....(jokes aside) I watched the "The Makioka Sisters" lately, and I really considered it a work of art.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Browny1: My point is I disagree with his opinion about most of Japanese movies being inferior to other countries' movies, implying other countries' movies are mainly high quality stuff. No, mainstream cinema is everywhere garbage.So I don't get his point, neither the one of all the users who agree with him. But this is only your typical day on this site, where basically everything about Japan is considered cheap and bad. So I won't reply to any other post, it's becoming pointless with this general mood.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Sion Sono, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Hiorkazu Kore-eda are three bright spots, but there needs to be a new movement of new directors..how about some WOMEN too!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

After saying all that I had posted here are some examples that Japan had churned out which I thought were interesting to view.

125 Years Memory

Swing Girls

Kano

Tenchi: The Samurai Astronomer

Departures

Poppoya

Persona Non Grata

Kakekomi onna to kakedashi otoko

Birigyaru

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Movies are just like any other artistic/creative form. If you dont strive to be different or look for new avenues or push the envelope you end up errr here.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japanese Actors and actresses (particularly the actresses) are abysmal.

My favorite is when they want to convey surprise/shock/disapproval, or any other number of emotions, they drop their jaw about half way open, bounce their eyes back and forth from left to right, and breath slightly heavily.... for like 5 seconds, with no verbal communication. Who teaches them this garbage?

And the "angry speech from someone who cares" which appears in nearly every movie, is never believable. Stop with it or get it right.

perhaps japan needs to hire someone like Harrison Ford, Tom Hanks, or someone else with legendary status in the states to come tutor them.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Japan is much more of a TV culture nation than a movie culture nation, so the Japan movie industry is getting undernourished

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Movies here, particularly those made by the major studios that also owned the theaters in which they were sold, have been made to make money rather than to make artistic statements. Most movies follow a predictable dramatic arc and feature stock characters and situations because that is what the Japanese audience demands - the same sort of one-dimensional drivel that they watch on TV. The only really shocking thing is that in the face of all this anodyne conformity Japan was been able to produce the number of great directors it did in the late 20th century, from Mizoguchi to Imamura to Ichikawa to Itami, among many others - though notably few women. Kurosawa's death (who couldn't even get financing for his later films in Japan) was the final nail in the coffin of Japanese cinema. Escapist pap is all that's left.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I don't compare Japanese films with western ones... French films are very French, yet I don't hear people moaning about French cinema. Japanese movies are made for Japanese people in Japan... what's wrong with that? It's only Hollywood that wants to dominate the world.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Only really during film festivals do you get to see good films. Kiyoshi kurasawa movies were really good, Cure, Charisma, lots more... Also radio no jikan or welcome back Mr McDonald was good although the director Mitani during q&a was too arrogant. Harada's Climbers high (2008) wasn't bad in spite of the cliche characters with a good ending. Nonetheless these were films that should of inspired a future independent cinema instead of the mess today. It's possible to get it back

0 ( +0 / -0 )

DarkKnghtZAPR. 13, 2016 - 12:17PM JST

Japanese Actors and actresses (particularly the actresses) are abysmal.

My favorite is when they want to convey surprise/shock/disapproval, or any other number of emotions, they drop their jaw about half way open, bounce their eyes back and forth from left to right, and breath slightly heavily.... for like 5 seconds, with no verbal communication. Who teaches them this garbage?

I think they learn it from watching all the other TV dramas and films in which everyone does exactly the same thing, or they get told to do it by directors.

And the "angry speech from someone who cares" which appears in nearly every movie, is never believable. Stop with it or get it right.

While everyone else stands around looking sombre and reflective while they contemplate whatever it is they've all got to be sombre and reflective about. Ghastly formulaic trash, isn't it?

perhaps japan needs to hire someone like Harrison Ford, Tom Hanks, or someone else with legendary status in the states to come tutor them.

True, but that would be tantamount to admitting that they are all in fact utterly useless. Can't see that ever happening.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Can't see that ever happening.

No, no, no. American actors like H Ford, T Hanks, N Cage, B Willis etc. etc. etc. just have that natural "cool" about them on the big screen. (US actresses too) It can't be learned nor taught.

When it comes to Japanese actors / actresses -just, "Can't see that ever happening."

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Young Hollywood actors and actresses to can over acting as well (those 5o Shades of Grey still burning in my mind). Also Hollywood star system produce more flops than hits in recent years. When the last time you heard Johnny Depp, Rob Schneider, Adam Sandler, Will Smith and Angelina Jolie has a hit movies? The only advantages Hollywood has over Japan is that they are bigger and have more money to compensate all the lacklusture productions over the years.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

@EC626

" American actors like H Ford, T Hanks, N Cage, B Willis etc. etc. etc"

You mean like the US buying David Beckham to improve its mens soccer team?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

No, no, no. American actors like H Ford, T Hanks, N Cage, B Willis etc. etc. etc. just have that natural "cool" about them on the big screen. (US actresses too) It can't be learned nor taught.

Are we talking about the same thing, i.e. Japan needing American actors to show Japanese actors what to do because Japanese actors are useless?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@WC626

I agree Tom Hanks and H Ford are good but cage and willis, i think not, why not Pachino and Hoffman oh he passed but you get my point.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

No, no, no. American actors like H Ford, T Hanks, N Cage, B Willis etc. etc. etc. just have that natural "cool" about them on the big screen. (US actresses too) It can't be learned nor taught. When it comes to Japanese actors / actresses -just, "Can't see that ever happening.

So all white guys, preferably with blue eyes, equals "natural cool?"

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Japan is much more of a TV culture nation than a movie culture nation, so the Japan movie industry is getting undernourished

I'm glad that you mentioned this because Japanese tv is also pretty bad. The dramas are cliché ridden and monotonous. I cannot think of anything that could be sold abroad to an adult audience. In the West, tv drama has got better and better with very high production standards.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I actually think Japanese cinema is too stuck on anime form of story-telling rather than actually telling a story as it's own art media. You see this in how the scenes are used, cliched patterns used over and over again. Japanese film creators need a hard break with anime.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Alex80: "My point is I disagree with his opinion about most of Japanese movies being inferior to other countries' movies, implying other countries' movies are mainly high quality stuff."

You have a right to your opinion, of course, but this man is a director, and also the success (or lack thereof) of Japanese films abroad as opposed to those being produced in other nations is indicative that he is correct, rather than going on emotion as you are. And nowhere does he say that other nations' movies are 'mainly quality stuff'; he says that the good stuff being produced in other nations is higher than that of Japan, and that is true.

"No, mainstream cinema is everywhere garbage.So I don't get his point, neither the one of all the users who agree with him."

So, anyone who agrees with him is wrong, in your mind, but you are correct?

"But this is only your typical day on this site, where basically everything about Japan is considered cheap and bad."

First, that can easily be countered by pointing out the fact that you spend EVERY post on this site griping about the US, even when it is unrelated, save maybe 0.5% of your posts. Add to that the fact that you defend anything and everything Japanese, regardless of whether it is good or bad, negates your comment. Second, your comment might hold true for some posters, but is completely undermined by the fact that it is the ARTICLE and a movie director saying this, not just a JT poster. You're simply lashing out because you don't like it.

"So I won't reply to any other post, it's becoming pointless with this general mood."

Because you CAN'T reply. You're just being defensive because of your love for Japanese film; and that love is absolutely fine, of course -- but you can't let that block out or deny the facts. I love a lot of Japanese films, and there have been classics -- especially Kurosawa, Miike, Takeshi, and anime, as well as horror -- but the fact remains that things have gone downhill.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Or maybe it is just that people don't care about movies anymore.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Apparently, the author of this article hasn't seen the Rurouni Kenshin trilogy.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I disagree. I believe Japanese movies and dramas are better nowadays. They do have better plot than other countries in Asia. In Kiss Asian websites broadcast a lot Japanese movies with good comments about them. Japanese do have better story/plot than Korean and most of the Asian countries. Some dramas have the same story repeatedly, but just add some plastic -surgery actors/actresses (100% sucks)

Bare in mind, they are increasing their budget and give more accountability to their actors and actresses.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Torel is wrong about sharing a films success with the cast and crew, since its his own cash he's risking its not an issue but if its some one else's cash its a different. Since Japanese don't have a world wide release I doubt they make much at the Japanese box office which would explain the low pay scale, Japan doesn't exactly have a super large population. None of the cast and crew have risked their own money to make a Japanese movie they have no skin in the game so why should share in a film's success? They are paid for their work how ever much that would be but investors may or may not be paid depending on how the film does at the box office, they could end up losing all of their cash while the cast and crew still took home paychecks regardless if the film failed. Everybody always wants the rewards without any of the risk, there is nothing fair about that.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites