When people get to know that I am a film blogger, they often ask me how I choose what films to watch. The answer is pretty simple – I most often go by the film directors. Sometimes I get obsessive about some director and watch the whole filmography. I did that for David Cronenberg and Woody Allen from the West, and I’m working on Park Chan-wook, Zhang Yimou and Bong Joon-ho from the East. Watching movies from the same director is enriching, as it allows one to dive deeper into the themes important to him or her. It also enables one to understand other movies in the creative context of filmography.
A step further is to read about the director and get to know the behind-the-scenes story. This is why I really enjoyed reading the new edition of Directory of World Cinema: Japan 3 edited by John Berra (who is also a fellow film blogger and film scholar, you can see his favorite top 10 Asian films here). This edition is organized by directors, where each author gives a broader perspective of a director’s life and filmmaking career. It was a pleasure to read and I was introduced to many new directors that I had not heard of (like Shin’ya Tsukamoto, who is considered to be Cronenberg of Japan!). It was interesting to get to know some bits and details of how such sensational film as Nagisa Oshima’s “In the Realm of Senses” was made. Or funny eccentric details like that Seijun Suzuki did not bathe or change clothing through the shooting of his films. I really enjoyed reading the interview with the director Susumu Hani and I think the book would have benefited from more interviews.
Being a book nerd (and former publishing student) I must add that quality of the printed book is very high and visually pleasing. This is certainly a book that film students, scholars and Japanese film enthusiasts will enjoy and benefit from having it in their collection.