Third Window Films

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Murasaki53
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Third Window Films

#1 Post by Murasaki53 » Sun Feb 21, 2010 8:40 pm

Third Window Films

The only releases I've seen from this UK label so far are Kamikaze Girls (which I thought was innovative and fun) and the extraordinary Love Exposure. This is what someone on another forum had to say about this release:

I'm not really sure what to say about this other than to say that no review can completely do it justice, so everyone should just watch it if they get the chance. It's 4 hours long and filmed on video (for the most part, I think) on a small budget, but it has more imagination, more guts and more heart than practically any film I've seen in years.
It's like a mad patchwork of tone and style that's incredibly funny, deeply moving, very strange, and wildly inventive. Which probably makes it sound like hard work, but it's made with such an assuredness and lightness of touch that the 4 hours just fly by. It's like a cartoon in places, but it's acted and directed with such conviction and verve that it becomes totally involving. You're completely drawn in from the start, to the point where the most bizarre plot-twists seem totally natural. There's a scene in the second half where a character recites the whole of 1 Corinthians 13 in close-up, which goes on for over five minutes, with no cut-aways, and it's one of the most emotionally affecting scenes I've ever watched.


Although I'm a big fan of Japanese movies I've generally been preoccupied by the usual suspects: Yamanaka, Shimizu, Mizoguchi, Kobayashi, Ozu, Kurosawa etc.

I've also been a bit put off modern Japanese cinema which tends to be rather banal and merely quirky at best, with one or two exceptions here and there. But Love Exposure blew me away so I thought I'd draw some attention to it here. To an extent it reminded me of Wild At Heart and Kill Bill but neither Lynch or Tarantino have ever made a film that had me on the verge of tears and that's something that this film achieved in spite of its gratuitousness.

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zedz
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Re: Third Window Films

#2 Post by zedz » Sun Feb 21, 2010 9:25 pm

I think Love Exposure has been overpraised, but it's certainly a remarkable and entertaining film. And completely insane, partly because it lurches into each unlikely plot component with a kind of earnest goofiness, or goofy earnestness - I'm not sure I can tell those two things apart. For me, however, the film starts running out of steam about halfway through when it tries to deal with all the left turns it's already made and it has to spend a lot of energy in the second half tying all the wildly swinging plot threads into a messy macrame thing.

Nevertheless, there's more invention here than you can shake a stick at and it's probably a must-see if you're at all interested in contemporary Japanese cinema.

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Re: Third Window Films

#3 Post by zombeaner » Sun Feb 21, 2010 10:18 pm

It is worth noting that Third Window also has the only complete DVD version of The President's Last Bang available in the world currently. An outstanding film.

Murasaki53
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Re: Third Window Films

#4 Post by Murasaki53 » Mon Feb 22, 2010 5:30 am

That's a very fair review zedz. Though actually I had quite the opposite experience in the sense that the film really came together for me around the halfway point. At this stage I began to realize how much Japanese youth probably feel resentful of the strictures of their own society and have an inarticulate awareness of the failure of authority as represented by the father figures in the film, institutional religion (represented by Catholicism) alternative religions (the Zero Church being a thin cipher for Aum Shinri Kyo), and possibly even the shallowness of their own pop culture. Prior to that, of course, you have the nationalism of WW2. So - without giving too much away for people who haven't seen this film - the profoundly humanistic tone of the actual text of 1 Corinthians 13 and the way in which the movie offers an alternative to the failed Japanese Dream via its recognition and acceptance of dysfunctionality really got to me. I could put this less intellectually and much more directly but in doing so it would give the reader too much of an indication of how this film is going to end. Lastly, my understanding of Japanese society is that it is partly about the impossible task trying to be the perfect son, the perfect father, the perfect daughter, the perfect member of society etc. so I loved the anti-perfectionistic, anti-Confucian and anti-utopian thrust of the film.

Having re-read this post, it sounds to me that I have written something that just comes across like a badly composed Film Studies essay. I just can't do justice to how I feel about Love Exposure. I also had the same problem with All About Lily Chou Chou a few years back: with the best movies you just can't put into words how affecting they are.

Thanks for the tip-off about The President's Last Bang, by the way. Some of the other releases on this label seem a bit dodgy so it would be great to know which one's are worth seeing.

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joshua
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Re: Third Window Films

#5 Post by joshua » Tue Feb 23, 2010 12:23 am

I'd recommend Lee Chang Dong's Peppermint Candy and Oasis. I think both are excellent. His film Green Fish is, to me, a bit of a lesser film but it was his first so if you like the other two, I'd say check it out afterwords. I just picked up Funuke, Show Some Love You Losers! and it was fun. It's a quirky, dark and comedic family drama that has a funny way of rewarding its character's bad behavior- I'd say it's worth a look. I'd say if zedz steers you away from any of these though, go with that because his tastes in films are pretty close to spot-on.

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Re: Third Window Films

#6 Post by zedz » Tue Feb 23, 2010 6:27 pm

joshua wrote:I'd say if zedz steers you away from any of these though, go with that because his tastes in films are pretty close to spot-on.
I wouldn't dream of doing so. I'm not a great fan of Lee Chang Dong, but he's certainly a filmmaker worth watching.

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Re: Third Window Films

#7 Post by colinr0380 » Tue Feb 23, 2010 6:47 pm

Something worth noting is that Kamikaze Girls has just been reissued in a two disc DVD set and on Blu-Ray, so best to get either of those over the initially released one disc version.

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Re: Third Window Films

#8 Post by forweg » Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:06 pm

Murasaki53 wrote:Having re-read this post, it sounds to me that I have written something that just comes across like a badly composed Film Studies essay.
Not really, it just seems to be the same regurgitated "look how bad those Orientals' inferior culture really is!" propaganda circulated for the past 100 years or so. It could've easily come directly from a "professional" film review. (Although the attempt to link modern Japanese "pop culture" to the propaganda staple of "evil traditional Confucianism" is pretty comical.)

Nonetheless, thanks for the review, as if it's remotely accurate I'll know to forever avoid this film.

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zedz
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Re: Third Window Films

#9 Post by zedz » Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:30 pm

Tsk. Where's Miss Manners and her bloodied baseball bat when you need her?

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joshua
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Re: Third Window Films

#10 Post by joshua » Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:50 pm

Has anyone seen the film No. 3? Song Kang-ho and Choi Min-sik (I really liked him in Chihwaseon) together in a movie sounds fun but is it worthwhile over all as an entertainment?

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Re: Third Window Films

#11 Post by The Fanciful Norwegian » Wed Feb 24, 2010 1:16 am

zombeaner wrote:It is worth noting that Third Window also has the only complete DVD version of The President's Last Bang available in the world currently.
Caveat: the French release is also uncut and is actually a native PAL transfer (without the NTSC conversion issues that plague a number of Third Window titles, including this one). No English subs though, and nearly four times the cost of the UK version.

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Re: Third Window Films

#12 Post by Murasaki53 » Wed Feb 24, 2010 3:19 pm

forweg wrote:
Murasaki53 wrote:Having re-read this post, it sounds to me that I have written something that just comes across like a badly composed Film Studies essay.
Not really, it just seems to be the same regurgitated "look how bad those Orientals' inferior culture really is!" propaganda circulated for the past 100 years or so. It could've easily come directly from a "professional" film review. (Although the attempt to link modern Japanese "pop culture" to the propaganda staple of "evil traditional Confucianism" is pretty comical.)

Nonetheless, thanks for the review, as if it's remotely accurate I'll know to forever avoid this film.
I'd much rather that you disregard what I wrote, watch the film yourself and then come back here to post your own thoughts about it.

However, I cannot let your comment about my comment about 'evil traditional Confucianism' pass without comment. On a personal level, that arose from observing my (Japanese) wife being bullied by her (Japanese) boss and therefore some familiarity with sarariman no bunka which is informed, in my view, by a warped version of the Neo-Confucianism that also influenced the conduct of the Japanese military in WW2 as extensively chronicled by Brian Daizen Victoria in his book Zen War Stories.

I hadn't realized up until now that Victoria was a comic writer rather than a respected author and commentator operating from within the Soto Zen tradition. Also, it hadn't dawned on me that my wife's experiences of her own culture and experiencing first hand the sometimes crushing social and familial obligations that are part and parcel of being born Japanese were also to be disregarded. Thank you for helping to enlighten me in this regard. This online article has also helped to shape my thoughts. Obviously though, it's one of those many online articles of dubious academic worth.

Then there's Donald Richie's introduction to the Criterion edition of Harakiri to consider in which he points out that Masaki Kobayashi traces the origins of the Japanese militaristic perspective back to the beginnings of the Tokugawa Shogunate in this movie, a Shogunate that was undoubtedly operating under the influence of a perverted Confucian ethos. But then Richie has only been living in the country since 1947 and that is hardly long enough for a gaijin to gain any insight into the Japanese mind and heart.

In closing, I should just add that I myself have lived in Japan and travelled within the country extensively, am a huge fan of Japanese culture (especially the literature and poetry of the Heian period), and have taught Japanese and Chinese Philosophy for about 20 years.

Of course, all of this experience and extensive study has now been disqualified by your post which has flagged up an obviously ingrained Orientalism and in turn nullified my vain attempt to draw this Forum's attention to a possibly overlooked classic of modern Japanese cinema. And there is also obviously no ongoing connection whatsoever between the influence that forms of Confucianism have historically exerted in prior Japanese history and anything that could possibly be happening with modern Japanese youth. I shall therefore now withdraw from this thread and hand it over to others who - like yourself - are obviously much better positioned to write about such matters.

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Re: Third Window Films

#13 Post by forweg » Thu Feb 25, 2010 3:34 am

I have once again made the mistake of posting on this forum with my extremist mindset and viewpoints. It's very difficult for me to let certain types of comments go uncontested, and that is a personal flaw. It would be best if we didn't continue this discussion in this topic (or forum).

I've thoroughly responded to your post on my personal blog. If you wish to continue this conversation, we can do so there or somewhere of your choosing.

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Re: Third Window Films

#14 Post by zombeaner » Thu Feb 25, 2010 2:23 pm

The Fanciful Norwegian wrote:
zombeaner wrote:It is worth noting that Third Window also has the only complete DVD version of The President's Last Bang available in the world currently.
Caveat: the French release is also uncut and is actually a native PAL transfer (without the NTSC conversion issues that plague a number of Third Window titles, including this one). No English subs though, and nearly four times the cost of the UK version.
Good to know, so I should've added "English-friendly" to the above description.

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Re: Third Window Films

#15 Post by Murasaki53 » Fri Feb 26, 2010 1:07 pm

forweg,
first of all, I would like to apologise for my previous post. I very rarely get into online arguments with people and when I do I try to avoid antagonising them but fear that I may have done this time around. Unfortunately, I'm too busy with work right now to even click on your link but I'll just quickly add that the way my post was phrased could, I feel, have given rise to precisely the misunderstanding that took place. I also think that the current Japanese Zeitgeist and - in particular - its New Religions are complex phenomena. The evils of Confucianism are not a sufficient explanation for what is going on (though I do think the Japanese version of Confucianism has a part to play).

I'm not sure whether you have read Haruki Murakami's Underground or are familiar with Milgram's research into obedience to authority and possibly Robert Jay Lifton's writing on Aum Shinri Kyo but all these authors offer a wider perspective on the 'Zero Church' aspect of this movie.

Right, I really must get back to work. If I don't get around to responding to your blog soon, please - once again - accept my apologies for this. But when I do you may find that I might actually agree with your point of view.

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Re: Third Window Films

#16 Post by Finch » Wed Jan 26, 2011 1:31 pm

This deserves a bump for the label's exciting 2011 line-up:

first, we have a Blu-Ray of Memories of Matsuko on Feb 14; then a DVD + Blu-Ray of Confessions due on 25 April; Sion Sono's Cold Fish gets a DVD only release in July. And yesterday, TWF announced that they have acquired another well-received 2010 film, Sawako Decides, for theatrical release in Britain in the first half of the year, with a DVD only release (Blu wasn't agreed to by the Japanese rightsholder) for late 2011.

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Re: Third Window Films

#17 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed Jan 26, 2011 4:09 pm

Just ordered the HK DVD of Confessions (but still waiting for its arrival). ;~{

I never understood the adulation for Matsuko -- which I never considered more than passably entertaining (though too noisy and garish to the point of ugliness at times). Then again, I never understood people's devotion to My Sassy Girl.

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Re: Third Window Films

#18 Post by Finch » Wed Jan 26, 2011 5:18 pm

Michael, I haven't seen Matsuko yet but I've blind-bought two other TWF titles, Fine Totally Fine and Fish Story and loved both, especially the former, so I'm more than willing to take the plunge on Matsuko as well (I also got the lovely Canadian disc of the 2007 comedy Adrift in Tokyo and that director's subsequent film Instant Swamp is on order from Amazon UK). I also plan on seeing Confessions and Sawako Decides theatrically later this year and chances are both will end up in my library too. Not sure about Cold Fish since I'm not really keen on serial killer-themed films but if anyone can put a unique spin on it, it's the Japanese.

I asked TWF if they would be interested in acquiring Symbol and Golden Slumber but they replied that they weren't keen on either so one has to hope that either a HK company puts out an English-friendly DVD (the Korean disc has no English subs either) or someone in the US comes to the rescue.

As an aside, I'd like to get Strawberry Shortcakes and Taste of Tea and wondered if Amazon Japan would be cheaper if I do a bulk order for these films instead of paying a fortune at YesAsia? (I've been lucky to get almost all of my recent Nippon film titles pretty cheap on ebay, that is, the original Japanese discs with subs for £15 including delivery).

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Re: Third Window Films

#19 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed Jan 26, 2011 5:28 pm

Funuke is probably the best Japanese film on Third Windows list.

Adrift in Tokyo is great. My kids liked Fish Story, I was a bit less enthusiastic (but didn't dislkie it). Fine, Totally Fine is fun.

Outside Japan -- PTU and President's Last Bang are both very good. Also the LEE Chang-dong films.

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Re: Third Window Films

#20 Post by The Fanciful Norwegian » Wed Jan 26, 2011 9:20 pm

Finch wrote:I asked TWF if they would be interested in acquiring Symbol and Golden Slumber but they replied that they weren't keen on either so one has to hope that either a HK company puts out an English-friendly DVD (the Korean disc has no English subs either) or someone in the US comes to the rescue.
Symbol has very little dialogue (most of which is actually in Spanish); I saw it unsubtitled the first time and don't feel that I missed out on much. There's now a good set of fansubs, and if you can get the R2J at a reasonable price, I'd say go for it.

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Re: Third Window Films

#21 Post by Finch » Thu Jan 27, 2011 12:43 pm

Sorry I don't quite follow: how would I apply the fansubs to the DVD? And where could I get them? (Might resort to this if an English-friendly port of the Japanese disc doesn't surface in the next 12 months)

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Re: Third Window Films

#22 Post by Michael Kerpan » Thu Jan 27, 2011 12:59 pm

You may have to rip the DVD -- and then play the rip in VLC (using an external subtitle file). Never found a way to use the external subtitle file along with playing the DVD itself.

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Re: Third Window Films

#23 Post by Finch » Thu Jan 27, 2011 2:08 pm

Ah well, if the only way of getting the subs to work in tandem with the DVD is watching the film on the laptop, I'll pass.

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Re: Third Window Films

#24 Post by swo17 » Thu Jan 27, 2011 2:10 pm

If your DVD/BD player has a USB port, you can load a ripped copy of the DVD plus the fansubs onto a flash drive and play it on your normal setup.

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Re: Third Window Films

#25 Post by zombeaner » Thu Jan 27, 2011 11:37 pm

The rights holders for Sono's stuff (Cold Fish and Love Exposure) haven't wanted to give up the BD rights for some reason. I'll have more about Third Window's future plans over at Twitch next week when I wrap up the profile. BTW I am J Hurtado over at Twitch.

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