Japanese Film Festival 2019 | Reflections: Part II

Samurai Shifters | Isshin Inudo

How do I even classify this film? It’s a period drama, romantic comedy, kinda political thriller and even a pinch of musical. This all-in genre meshing works very much both in favour and to the detriment of Samurai Shifters.

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Japanese Film Festival 2019 (+ Kore-eda’s The Truth) | Reflections: Part I

Continuing on with the format I established with the SFF earlier this year, I will be sharing some thoughts I had watching a new roster of Japanese cinema, in the midst of a unusually busy season of films for me (last I checked, I had 11 movie tickets already lined up for November and December).

Regular readers many already be familiar with how my lineups usually look, and while I am always looking for opportunities to inch beyond my tendencies and preferred genres, I believe that this comfort zone of mine is at least diverse enough for surprises, while also satisfying my own tailored love for cinema.

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Sydney Film Festival 2019 | Reflections

As I look for ways to keep my writing brain well-oiled, I will be trying out a more ‘modular’ approach to blog posts: rather than dedicating each post to a singular theme that I hammer out mostly in one sitting, I’m taking a few pages from my old seasonal anime list posts, and compile short capsule reviews that I write throughout the week(s). In this instance, I have given myself a pretty decent schedule for the upcoming fortnight of movies that are screening at the annual Sydney Film Festival, and will be reflecting on each title I watch, before publishing it at its conclusion.

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Framed Cities: Cultural Citizenship & Urban Spatiality

Philosopher Alain de Botton stated at the 2013 CDI (or the City of Ideas International Festival), that “the media is the teacher…once you’ve left school and university, or in other words for most of your life, you will not be educated in a classroom, but by the media.” The accompanying and profound implications of citing media as the ultimate signifier and shaper of society and identity has led me to diagnose the contemporary main driving model of media consumption – namely the on-demand binge culture subtitled the ‘Netflix Effect’ – and how this…new experiential frame of consumption in turn re-frames urban culture. The methodological significance of studying the currently dominant formats of mass consumption and popular media, in conjunction with its influence on cultural identity, is what I would argue a post-human integration of technically separate but intrinsically co-existing schools of cinema studies and cultural sociology: namely the cinematic city’s integration with the urban experience and Charles Taylor’s concept of the ‘social imaginary’.

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Post-Disaster ‘Cool Japan’ | Kimi no Na wa: Cultural Identity, Modernity & Restorative Nostalgia

The slogan ‘Cool Japan’ was first used by the Japanese government in reference to its nation-branding projects back in 2005. Since then, the Cool Japan phenomenon has become a site of intensive focus for scholars in Japanese studies, particularly from the points of view of popular culture and creative industries (e.g. Sugiyama 2006, Dinnie 2009, Fujita 2011) and nationalism and nation-building (e.g. Iwabuchi 2007, 2008) (Valaskivi, 2013). Indeed, such saturated focus on this phenomenon has covered extensive and ripe ground from relatively regional frameworks, which examined its impact within Japan, as well as Japan’s influence within the East Asia sphere. In turn, Katja Valaskivi proposed to extend its study paradigms by contextualising Cool Japan through the transnationally circulating practice of nation branding. And thus with this essay, I will approach the study of the Cool Japan branding project by extending upon Valaskivi’s frameworks in her paper ‘Cool Japan and the social imaginary of the branded nation’; and by extension Taylor’s concept of the social imaginary (Taylor, 2002), through their integration into a semiotic and cinematic analysis of director Makoto Shinkai’s 2016 anime film ‘Kimi no Na wa’ (will be referred to as ‘Your Name’ from now on), which I argue will introduce unique observations that may ground Cool Japan’s main circulating features; namely 1) nation branding, 2) the concept of ‘Cool’ and 3) the idea of ‘essential Japanese values’, within a diverse collection of symbols, message streams and candid imagery that can be better appreciated and more readily understood.

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Terrace House: Visualising ‘Asian Modernity’

Social television and by extension, popular media, forms a central reflective lens through which one can observe and debate the general assumptions of cosmopolitanism in the contemporary Global Internet age. The frameworks of argument presented by Youna Kim in her exploration of the Korean Wave (with a particular focus on TV dramas) are grounded within understanding the discursive construction of an ‘East Asian Popular Culture’ (Chua, 2004), as well as exploring the shifting of the cultural export tides, as global awareness and appreciation for Asian media expands.

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Inner Life of Character | Helen Garner’s ‘Postcards from Surfers’

A self-invented definition for ‘character’ I always liked is ‘a personality, an expressive potential’ that can be harnessed through prose. A character’s effectiveness in narrative is defined by their expression of inner dimension. The layering of character would thus draw one’s attention to how a personality is molded through prose.

The inner life of a character.

And it is precisely this potential of personified liveliness that helps the story develop alongside the organic expansion of the character’s crafted persona. There is after all, a very favourable difference between an authentic character and a vehicle of plot that has lines of dialogue and scripts of action already predetermined within a story, at least according to Noah Lukeman when he wrote about characterisation. Lukeman stressed that the internal sense of self an author crafts for a character should act as the catalyst for the story. Their instinctual, compulsions and internal thought processes are just some ingredients that guides a character’s distinct liveliness.

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