barkerintokyo

IMDb member since October 2005
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Reviews

Soredemo boku wa yattenai
(2006)

One perspective on the Japanese justice system
The film follows the procedures of an unfortunate man as he is arrested, indicted, and tried for groping, a criminal offense. Throughout, the audience is confronted with moral dilemmas, questions on the most basic, most fundamental principles of the justice system and court procedure. Of course, the basic tenet is "innocent until proved guilty," but how does a court truly guarantee such? How does a justice system work efficiently without error? How should the justice system correct itself when there is a mistake? And how should the defendant act when he is wrongly accused? These questions are relevant to any nation, not just Japan.

Despite all the considerations of a highly developed democratic system, the main character, Teppei, still finds himself in the most unfortunate situation of being indicted for a crime he did not commit. Japan has checks and balances different from the United States or other western nations. Most innocent people are freed in the Kensatsu (something similar to the prosecutor) and are never indicted. In a sense, there is a court involving investigation, before the actual court. That a defendant, before entering a court room, has already been found guilty in two separate investigations renders the court a place to merely decide what the punishment should be. This is the reality of 99.9% guilty rate (which includes those who plead guilty). Teppei finds himself in the unlucky situation where he actually gets indicted despite being innocent.

After seeing this movie, many people, especially non-Japanese, will get the wrong impression of the Japanese justice system, which is a lot more fair than this film gives credit to. Regardless, the film presents a very valuable and justified perspective of the way criminal cases are handled in Japan and forces us to contemplate the concept of courts regardless of nation.

Nihon igai zenbu chinbotsu
(2006)

A well done film adaption of the parody of the hit novel Nihon Chinbotsu
A hilarious film adaptation by Kawasaki Minoru of a parody of the famous 1970s novel Nihon Chinbotsu. Nihon Chinbotsu is the story of the Japanese people losing their homeland and being dispersed throughout the world. Nihon Igai Zenbu Chinbotsu is the opposite: the whole world sinks except Japan. The world's survivors all scramble on the small little archipelago occupied by the xenophobic Japanese. With Team America-like line of characters, all extreme stereotypes of their nation, you can't stop laughing. No one escapes the directors critique, from the traditional Japanese guy (who takes advantage of the situation and eats whale), to the Chinese/Korean leaders who suck up to Japan's Prime Minister, to the American Secretary of Defense who regrets not having started a coup d'etat in Japan, and etcetera.

Of course, the story is just incredible. Of course there are going to be those who are going to criticize this movie saying the science behind the disaster is unrealistic, the economic situation of the foreigners would not happen, and that's fine. People who are going to criticize this movie for reasons like that just don't get that they need to suspend their disbelief when watching comedies like this one who's primary focus is not to tell a believable story but a ridiculously funny one.

Then there may be those who claim this is a nationalistic film, but again, those people are the same people who thought Team America was a nationalistic film. They just didn't get the masochistic humor. This movie is critical of not just its own nationality but even the movie itself ("I don't like Japanese movies, they look so cheap").

Finally, this movie will shock you with a surprisingly funny, yet touching end (well, as touching as a comedy can get). I wouldn't say it's a must watch, but it's a good complement to Nihon Chinbotsu as well as being a good stand alone film as well.

Nippon chinbotsu
(1973)

A unique disaster flick that gathers support by story, not SFX
This is the original film adaptation to the popular science fiction novel by Komatsu Sakyo, Nihon Chinbotsu. The scale of the disaster and the uniqueness of the implications has never before been matched by any film (except for probably the remake). Here's why: Nihon Chinbotsu is very simply about Japan Sinking in to the ocean. With great eruptions of volcanos and tremendous earthquakes, the homeland of the Japanese will completely disappear along with their factories, landscapes, cherry blossoms, cultural artifacts, and the homes and lives of millions. And none of these things can be rebuilt. The Japanese do not rise out of the ashes with a will to reconstruct their nation, the Japanese do not find hope in the rubble, there is nothing. The homeland is lost forever and the Japanese will have to live amongst people they have no ties with, in a culture foreign and a language unknown, amongst hatred with the label a refugee forever.

You can clearly see that this movie is not the traditional disaster flick. If you just want to see exciting heroics and special effects, this movie will not deliver. It's an old film and from 21st century standards, the visible strings and cheesy explosions cannot satisfy. But the movie makes up for it in substance. The story, the characters, the despair, is all believable. The questions raised like, are the Japanese worth saving once they've lost all their economic power? And because the story takes place in Japan, of course the people also begin to consider dying with their homes.

It's definitely a must watch especially if you've seen the recent remake or don't have time to read the book. If you're Japanese, take the extra moment to think about what you would do in this situation and this movie will leave a lasting impression on your mind.

Nihon chinbotsu
(2006)

A disaster flick that finds the good balance between action and thought-provoking
Nihon Chinbotsu is another example of Japanese creativity and ingenuity. The original story written in the early seventies is truly incredible in terms of thrill and how thought-provoking it was. Very basically, the story is about the Japanese archipelago "sinking" into the ocean due to plate tectonics. I'm not an expert on this branch of science, so I can't say how realistic the science behind the disaster is, but it sounded very believable as a layman.

There are many elements which make this disaster movie stand out compared to other disaster flicks like Day After Tomorrow, Independence Day, Twister, etc. No matter what devastation there is in the aforementioned movies, the land itself remains to fix. The people can rise out of the rubble, is usually the end of the film. However, Japan sinking means that the Japanese can't do anything to rebuild their homeland. Japanese will have to live somewhere else forever. Which raises many philosophical questions. What happens to a people without a homeland? Are the Japanese going to be worth anything to the other nations when they've lost their factories, cities, cultural artifacts? More specifically, do the Japanese today have any value? Will the Japanese have to simply assimilate into other nations and disappear as a unique civilization?

This film is a remake of the 1970s classic which is itself the film adaptation of the novel. There are many changes, one being the obvious CGI which is on par with Hollywood standards (which some may find a prerequisite for a good disaster film). But there are some crucial story edits that some may find for better or worse. I personally found the differences neither better or worse, just another alternate ending. This remake however is a bit faster pace and focuses more on the destruction and relies heavily on the action to keep people excited, which was probably not the intention of Komatsu Sakyo, the author. The questions raised continue to exist in this remake but are not the main focus of the film.

In conclusion, this remake is exciting as an action packed disaster flick with great CGI destroying familiar sites (if you're Japanese) as well as a thought-provoking film. What's great about it is that if you want to just watch it as an action flick, you can, if you want to think about the questions raised, you can as well, but you won't be forced to. It's a good balance. I would recommend it.

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