Fri, 18 Jul 2003

Japanese film week offers alternative week

Tantri Yuliandini, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

If you are bored with the hero-gets-the-girl theme so often repeated in Hollywood movies, then treat your senses to Japanese cinema at the ongoing Japanese Film Week at Taman Ismail Marzuki (TIM) arts center.

Offering alternative or even skewed perspectives to old themes, Japanese movies are always surprising and never boring.

On July 18, 2003, Yoji Yamada's Niji O Tsukamu Otoko will be screened at TIM's Graha Bhakti Budaya at 4:30 p.m.

First released in 1996, Niji O Tsukamu Otoko is a replacement for the long-running movie series Otoko Wa Tsurai Yo, which was terminated when its leading man, Kiyoshi Atsumi, died.

Ryo (played by Hidetaka Yoshioka) runs away from his parents and ends up in Tokushima prefecture in Shikoku, a major island located on the southern end of the Japanese archipelago. There, he is hired by Katsuo Shirogane (Toshiyuki Nishida), an eccentric movie theater owner, who disregards profit in his mission to bring good films to the masses.

Niji O Tsukamu Otoko is full of movie references and homages, such as Rene Clement's Jeux Interdits (Forbidden Games, 1951), Henri Corbi's Une Aussi Longue Absence (Such a Long Absence, 1960) and Keisuke Kinoshita's Nogiku no gotoki kimi nariki (She Was Like a Wild Chrysanthemum, 1955), and Yasujiro Ozu's Tokyo Monogatari (Tokyo Story, 1953).

Also on the same day, Gambatte Ikimasshoi (Osaka Story, or in Indonesian Ayo Berjuang) by Itsumichi Isomura will be screened at 7:30 p.m. and again on Sunday, July 20, at 4:30 p.m.

First released in 1998 at a small independent theater in Japan, Gambatte Ikimasshoi nevertheless struck a chord among the Japanese, garnering numerous awards for its five actresses.

The story is about a 15-year-old schoolgirl, Etsuko (played by Rena Tanaka), and her determination to establish an all-girls rowing team at her traditionalist school.

On July 19, Oroshiyakoku Suimudan (Dreams about Russia, or in Indonesian Rusia Tanah Impian) will be screened at 4:30 p.m.

Oroshiyakoku Suimudan is about the adventures of a crew of Japanese fishermen shipwrecked in Russia in the late 18th century. After many years in Russia, the crew returns to their native land with pleasant dreams about their host country, which was virtually unknown to Japan at that time.

The comedy Nodo Jiman by Kazuyuki Izutsu will also be screened on the same day at 7:30 p.m. Based on a popular amateur singing contest broadcasted live on television station NHK, Nodo Jiman tells of the show's four participants, their unique circumstances and reasons for having a go at vocal stardom.

Masayuki Suo's Shiko Funjatta (Sumo Do, Sumo Don't, or in Indonesian Semangat Sumo) will be screened at 7:30 p.m. on July 20, the last day of Japanese Film Week.

Shiko Funjatta tells of the comical ups and downs of a university sumo club that has been losing members to more popular sports such as soccer.

The club leader then recruits some highly unlikely recruits -- a red-haired, rugby-playing foreigner (Smiley), a skinny guy (Aoki) and a really big girl who has a crush on Aoki (Ritsuko). And last but not least, Yamamoto, a spoiled rich brat who is forced to join a sports club in order to graduate.


Japanese Film Week will run until July 20, 2003, at Graha Bakti Budaya, Taman Ismail Marzuki (TIM) arts center, Jl. Cikini Raya No. 73, Central Jakarta. Free tickets can be obtained at the door one hour before each show.