With the completion of fourteen feature-length theatrical films and a number of shorter television documentaries, Shohei Imamura has emerged as one of Japan's most interesting directors. Read the first page
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Not worthless, but disappointingMarch 19 2009
Michael M. Danziger
- Published on Amazon.com
I found this at the University library and, after reading Richie's essay at the beginning of the book, thought it would be a really interesting analysis of a unique director. I was disappointed. The sections by Imamura himself are of some interest but it seems more like this was all they could get a hold of and not that these writings were selected for being particularly illuminating. They have a three page piece by Imamura describing his style, but it is 40 years old and his style has changed. Other than that, they have two pieces he wrote about Kawashima. They are of some interest (of great interest if the study were about Kawashima) but were fairly redundant. The rest of the book seems to have been translated from French critics and all of the other writers pale in comparison to Richie's extensive "Notes" at the beginning of the book.
After reading this book I am not quite convinced that Imamura deserves to be reckoned in the pantheon with the classic directors. I am convinced, though, that Donald Richie is more than just the most widespread and influential Western writer on Japanese cinema but that he is also the best.
At a certain point in the book, one of the authors mentions that only in French and Japanese has anything been written about Imamura. OK, then why are there no Japanese critics or directors in this book? (Aside from double translations via French) It just seems like they didn't really put that much effort into this book. The dates of the articles are also perplexing. The book was published in 97 but almost all of the essays were originally published in the early to mid 80s, and some even earlier. In my opinion, this all points to sheer laziness (or perhaps lack of funds??) on the side of the publisher.
For $5, I'd say take it, the Richie essay is worth it. But $30 is just ridiculous. If you want to just blow some cash, I recommend Bordwell's Ozu and the Poetics of Cinema. It's way more expensive, has way more information and will accompany you for the rest of your life. (It's also available as a free download from his website but maybe I shouldn't tell you that.)