(Spring 1997): This short discussion is from the Kinema Club list, just before it was opened to the public as KineJapan. Sparked by a French critic’s comments after Suzaku’s Cannes price, participants consider the role of scholarship in promoting and shaping popular conceptions of Japanese cinema…and the potential roles KineJapan will play in the future.
Memorable Threads from KineJapan
(Fall 1997): A filmmaker and the master of a Zen Temple in Kyushu asks the question of the Subject line, something he is often asked by people. The ensuing discussion debates Western appropriations of Zen and their appearance in English-language writing on Japanese film.
(Fall 1997): “Impressions” following the Venice coup by Takeshi for Hana-bi lead to an involved exploration of the meaning of “independence” in 1990s Japan, for both film and popular music.
(Spring 1998): The release of the American Godzilla provides the opportunity for an ideological reading of the Japanese kaiju eiga (monster film) genre and its historical reception.
(Spring 1998): One of the most controversial films on 1998 was Toei’s Pride, a sympathetic biopic of Tojo Hideki. KineJapan discusses the reception of the film in the context of an increasingly conservative public discourse on war memory, and the history of films sponsored by political pressure groups.
(Summer 1998): One member issues the following challenge, which leads to a discussion of convention and value: “Anybody care to declare with no qualifications that there are “good” TV shows in Japan and name them and sign your real name?”
(Summer 1999): The Japanese media and its consumers enjoy a feeding frenzy at the expense of the tarento Nomura Sachiyo, the wife of a well-known baseball coach. What does this reveal about the media and what kinds of pleasures are being offered?