Monday, November 29, 2010

Sleeping dogs

Some things are best left up to the Japanese.
And not re-made for the Western Audience.
Certain movies, f'rinstance.

Case in point: 'Hachiko: A Dog's Tale' (2009).

Perhaps American film makers should have left well enough alone with the original Japanese film from 1987 - titled 'Hachiko Monogatari'.

The story of Hachiko is a true account of a dog's loyalty to his human owner/friend/soul mate.

The 2009 movie is certainly sweet, and the re-make has its good points. First of all, it looks yummy: with pleasant photography, lighting and even a novel 'dog's POV'. It features a cast of talented actors in what seemed to be supporting roles to a beautiful Akita dog (who performed his role well by always being on his marker and jumping up on 'his people' at the appropriate moments). However, the connection between dog and humans seemed, at best - contrived. It just wasn't convincing. That, or the heart of the film was inadvertently edited out.

It was only by a stretch of MY imagination that brought the desired emotional tear jerker response to this man-loves-dog-loves-man story. It was what I struggled to see in Hachiko's sad doggy eyes as he watched for his Never Ever to Return Again Master to come through those station doors...
Even so, one shouldn't have to work so hard for the sentimental magic that should have been crashing forth in waves of emotion from the movie itself. Blame it on the direction? Editing? Acting?

The movie is only an hour and a half long, but oh - what a long hour and a half to slog through whilst awaiting 'the bond' to take hold and deliver.

Another example: The original Japanese 'Shall We Dance' (1996) ~ a charming film.
Then it got Hollywood-ized (coincidentally ??? - starring Richard Gere) and the Hollywood high-gloss polish slicked over some very subtle and beautiful points offered by the Japanese film.
Once again, something very clear and dear to the original feel of the story was lost in the re-making of it for the western audience.

Query: why not just allow for the original Japanese versions of films to stand alone on their own merit? Only a very special few can make the grade when re-made, y'know.

Perhaps my expectations were too high for 'Hachiko: A Dog's Tale'.
My one word movie review, then =  Zzzzzzzzzzz

[image of sleeping dogs from]


Anonymous said...

sounds wonderful...and I'm always up for subtitles. I just watched an Alaskan Indian movie, all spoken in the original language w. English subtitles.
Fast Runner...highly recommended, a cultural eyeopener.

baffle said...

... do watch the Japanese versions of either or both of the films mentioned here. then, if you wish to - compare and contrast with the Hollywood re-makes.

in the meantime, I'll be sure to look for and screen 'The Fast Runner' - thanks for stopping by/commenting.

ronnieolee said...

I saw 'Shall We Dance' at the Bridge Theater on Geary. (It's around the corner from Edwina's house on Parker.) But, I digress. Anyway I identified with the man in certain ways. Slaving away all those years and leading an empty life. Then finding joy in ballroom dancing. The actual development of the plot was predictable but none the less heartwarming. I didn't see the American take off of this movie, but wished I did. I'm sure it would have made for a nice afternoon diversion.

The viewing of such 'foreign' films in art houses, are really enjoyable. To be able to sit quietly amongst like-minded people and totally immerse yourself in another time,place, and culture. And when the movie is over and you walk outside, you feel like you've just stepped off the jetway at SFO. What are you folks doin'? Do you know where I've just been? Let me tell you about it.

It was fun and you're the only person I know that's seen this movie. Maybe I sitting in row behind you....

baffle said...

do the fancy plex theaters in your home state ever feature films like this? if so, you and i have a Pal Date!