Best served as a reference, not a definitive text. — 5 years ago
I was fortunate to come across this book while browsing through the film section of a local usede bookstore. Being a fan of Asian cinema, I try to obtain as many texts as possible to expand my knowledge of the subject, and this seemed like a nice reference to have in my personal library.
Essentially it’s a collection of 24 essays written by different film scholars and critics, each on a specific film – obviously – from either Japan or Korea. Some of the essays are more informative, analyzing a film in the context of historical or political events, while some are more like personal reflections.
The unfortunate thing about the book is its decision to choose only so many films to represent two countries who both have a wide enough array of films that each should have been given its own book, in my opinion. Still, the selection is a refreshing change of pace when compared to other Asian cinema books that tend to look at films most people in America are already familiar with; naturally they include Kurosawa, but they chose to look at Stray Dog, one of his noir films, as opposed to something so overly discussed like Seven Samurai.
The nicest thing about having this book is that it’ll make you want to go out and watch every single film talked about, if anything so you’ll understand it more. If you’re not the type to do that sort of thing, move along. It’s not meant as an introduction to Japanese or Korean cinema; it’s more like a glance at specific films that serve as examples.