As the rich get richer, the poor get poorer. The idea that there are two diverging classes of people, upper and lower, is an old one. It’s an idea that also applies to business and products. It’s an idea that can clearly be applied to Japanese cinema.
Recently, the excellent website Wildgrounds published a piece containing segments of an interview with Takashi Miike on the state of the Japanese film industry and “discouraging” would be the word I’d use to describe it. Then again, maybe Miike is wrong.
The gist of Miike’s take on the Japanese film industry is that production committees are committed to “safe bets,” resulting in an uninspiring cinema. The way he sees it, it’s only going to get worse. I agree with that idea when applied to larger films – the big getting bigger and safer. However, I also think that a combination of forces such as the slumping economy, the national debt, and a more disenfranchised populace will work around the committee system that larger Japanese systems are beholden to. In fact, the Japanese new new wave was born under similar circumstances after the bubble economy of the 80′s burst.
Throughout the 90′s into the 00′s, Japan was the center of the filmic universe. On top of the creative and intersting horrors that defined Japanese live-action cinema to the rest of the world for the better part of a decade, directors such as Takashi Miike, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Hirokazu Koreeda, and Takeshi Kitano really hit their stride. I’ll never forget the first time I saw Kitano’s, A Scene at the Sea.
It’s a fact that when societies have faced severe circumstances, they find new and inspiring ways to express themselves. And I for one, am looking forward to the next wave of young Japanese filmmakers who’ll inspire me.
Read the full interview with Miike at Twitchfilm.com.