Toho Studio’s in Seijogakuenmae (on the Odakyu line) is Japan’s largest and most famous film studios and is famous for making TV programmes and films such as the Seven Samurai (one of the greatest and most influential Japanese films ever and the inspiration for the Magnificent Seven) and Godzilla and its many dreadful sequels. As I had a free afternoon last Friday I thought I would go and see the place to find out a little bit more about it and see what I could discover.
The studio’s aren’t exactly easy to find as they don’t feature on any maps in and around the station. I only had a postcode (157-8561) to go on and my instincts and when I did stumble upon it in Seijo 1-chome my expectations were pretty low in terms of being able to go in and have a nose about the place or even a tour. I anticpated pretty much nothing and that is exactly what I got!! Instead I had to just settle for a couple of photo’s outside the place which in some sad way I was content with as I had been very close to giving up on finding the place on a couple of occasions.
This is a Japanese film which came out on DVD last month and my girlfriend pounced on the chance to rent out a copy. I was quite nervous about watching it as its about a foreign guy going out with a Japanese girl and showing how their two worlds collide. ‘My Darling…’ is a Japanese comedy film, based on the manga series ‘Is he turning Japanese?’ and centres around the relationship of Saori and her American boyfriend Tony who is not only fluent in Japanese but is also deeply interested in Japanese culture. Of course, like many of us foreigners living in Japan, he doesn’t always understand certain parts of this culture. Without giving away too many spoilers the movie focuses on where their relationship is heading and the disapproval of Saori’s father to his daughter marrying a foreigner. Needless to say that it echoes of similarities between my girlfriend and I as well as many other international relationships in this country.
To be honest ‘My Darling…’ is fairly rubbish but nevertheless it entertained me for its 100 minute duration. There are a few subtleties in there which I can relate to but I imagine would be missed by the Japanese who watch this. Main character Tony is fluent in Japanese but when he asks for directions he faces the comeback “Sorry, I don’t speak English” which is a little bewildering seeing as he asked the guy in his language. This happens to me sometimes and the Japanese often seem to panic when you speak them and they don’t even listen to you and think you’re speaking English!
A scene in a cinema where Tony laughs a couple of seconds before the Japanese audience was something I have experienced before which is due to them laughing once they’ve read the subtitles rather than actually hearing the line.
Overall, I guess this film was only of interest due to the vague similarity to my own situation and given that the majority of westerners in Japan are teachers I was a little disappointed that it didn’t follow that route so closely but maybe that would be an even worse movie to see!
When I first heard of this film a few months ago I had no real desire to see it and the critical reviews didn’t do too much more to make me want to see it. However, on one of the mornings last week I came across a show on Japanese TV which was heavily promoting this film and I guess it did what it intended as I got sucked in! Its big-name lead stars Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz were being interviewed at the Tokyo premiere in a way which as an English speaker I find frustrating to watch. Of course I’m not so arrogant to think that there shouldn’t be translations for the many fans here in Japan but it does mean that the conversation (if it can even be called that!) just doesn’t flow with Cruise just saying one short line which is then tranlated by an out-of-shot woman and then he says another line and this process continues on and on.
Anyway, I realised after watching this preview show that this kind of film was maybe right up my street in terms of fast-moving action, a bit of comedy and a very simple storyline amid some exciting world locations. One of these places included Seville which made me happy as I went there at the start of this year and so already have photos of some of the landmarks which featured in the latter half of the movie.
Anyway, I watched this flick last weekend and particularly enjoyed it. Sure, the plot is a bit thin on the ground, has you questioning why some things are happening and is full of some action scenes which really are beyond belief. However, it’s good fun, fast-paced and its two main stars deliver what they were paid to do in terms of glamour, their celebrity power and commitment.
Tom Cruise plays a spy on the run called Roy Miller which was a surprising name as it was also the name of Matt Damon’s character in Green Zone earlier this year (an interesting comparison of the two can be seen here.) Of course Knight and Day won’t win any awards but it kept me entertained for its duration and I can’t really ask for any more than that.