Reading Advisory at the Ames Public Library
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Reading Advisory at the Ames Public Library
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Japanese Films at Ames Public Library

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Dark Water (DVD FOREIGN DAR)  100 min.  2001. 

Yoshimi Matsubara fights to gain legal custody of her daughter Ikuko while they live together in a dark, sullen apartment building. Already insecure and uncertain about her future with her daughter, Yoshimi is haunted by murky water dripping through the ceiling and walls, and by the appearances of a red bag that once belonged to a girl who had disappeared two years prior. Though she struggles to find the strength within herself for Ikuko's sake, her horror intensifies as she comes closer to discovering the connection between these events, and is completely unprepared for the truth that lies ahead.

The Demon (DVD FOREIGN DEM)  110 min.  1978. 

A strange relationship develops between a man, his wife, and his mistress, and a young boy becomes the pawn in a dangerous game of passion and intrigue.

Departures (DVD FOREIGN DEP)  131 min.  2008. 

Daigo Kobayashi is an unemployed cellist in a dissolved orchestra. He moves back to his hometown with his wife and answers a classified ad entitled 'Departures' thinking it involves travel. The job is actually for a 'Nokanshi' or 'encoffineer,' a funeral professional who prepares deceased bodies. While his wife and others despise the job, Daigo is proud of his work and begins to perfect the art, acting as a gatekeeper between life and death, between the departed and their families.

Dodesuka-Den (DVD FOREIGN DOD)  140 min.  1970. 

This film follows the lives of the people who live in a slum, built in a garbage dump. A mentally disabled boy is obsessed with streetcars, driving an imaginary streetcar around, chanting "Dodes'ka-den! Dodes'ka-den!" ─ mimicking the sound of the wheels. A young woman lives with her lecherous uncle; a pair of friends get drunk and swap wives; a mentally ill beggar and his son live in a deserted car; and a man treats five children as if they are his own, but he is not their father. Although they may dream of better times, they are trapped ─ both physically and psychologically ─ living a life of disappointment or worse, but many find ways to carry on.

Dogfight over Guadalcanal (940.5426 DVD DOG)  In English.  60 min.  2006. 

In the summer of 1942, two ace fighter pilots – one American and one Japanese – faced off during a dogfight in the skies over Guadalcanal. Eventually the Japanese pilot shot down the American, who crashed behind enemy lines but managed to escape before being captured. Using both pilots' memoirs and following a forensic expedition to the recently found American plane, this program examines and re-creates every anxious second of the WWII showdown over the Pacific, revealing how evenly matched the two men were and how they both survived, despite serious injuries.

Dreams (DVD FOREIGN DRE)  120 min.  1990. 

Eight episodes explore many aspects of humankind and man's need to harmonize with nature, based on Akira Kurosawa's actual dreams.

Early Summer (DVD FOREIGN EAR)  125 min.  1951. 

In post-war Japan, a young woman must make the choice between pleasing her family and pleasing herself when faced with marriage to a man she does not love.

Firefly Dreams (DVD FOREIGN FIR)  105 min.  2001. 

Naomi is a normal teenager whose mother abandons the family. Naomi’s shattered father sends her off for the summer to work at his sister's country inn. It becomes apparent that she is not cut out for the service industry and her aunt asks her to tend to the aging neighbor, Mrs. Koide, who is slowly succumbing to Alzheimer's. Having fond memories of the place, Naomi agrees. Though Mrs. Koide does not remember her, Naomi enjoys her direct manner and the stories from Mrs. Koide's youth.

Fires on the Plain (DVD FOREIGN FIR)  104 min.  1959. 

February 1945. Tamura is a Japanese soldier fighting in the Philippines. A consumptive, neither his commander nor the hospital doctor want him around − food is too scarce. Sent away, Tamura wanders the countryside, observing Filipinos lighting bonfires. Are they signal fires sent out to American soldiers or local guerrillas? Whatever their purpose, Tamura is reassured by the hopeful idea of the peasants continuing the ritual of their simple life, uncorrupted by war.

Fish Story (DVD FOREIGN FIS)  112 min.  2009. 

A comet is five hours from crashing into Earth, impending annihilation. Five strangers are gathered in a record store to discuss and resolve the world’s fate. The song, 'Fish Story' by a nameless '70s band is playing. The album cover reads: “There is a silent pause during the song. It was put there by the song writers intentionally.” Does this song contain the ingredients to save the world?

Good Morning (DVD FOREIGN GOO)  93 min.  1959. 

In this satiric comedy set in a 1950s residential suburb of Tokyo, two brothers refuse to talk until their parents agree to buy them a television set.

Harakiri (DVD FOREIGN HAR)  133 min.  1962. 

Peace in 17th-century Japan causes the Shogunate's breakup of warrior clans, throwing thousands of samurai out of work and into poverty. An honorable end to such a fate under the samurai code is ritual suicide, or hara-kiri.

The Hidden Fortress (DVD FOREIGN HID)  139 min.  1958. 

A princess must escape across enemy lines with the royal treasure, guarded only by a loyal general and two greedy peasants.

High and Low (DVD FOREIGN HIG)  143 min.  1963. 

A botched kidnapping of a Japanese executive's son turns into a race against time.

Ikiru (DVD FOREIGN IKI)  143 min.  1952. 

Discovering that he is in the last stages of cancer, a clerk spends his last months in search of life's meaning. After his pursuit of pleasure fails, he finds self-realization by building a playground in the slums and dies quietly fulfilled.

Japan: Memoirs of a Secret Empire (952 DVD JAP)  In English.  180 min.  2004. 

Between the 16th and 19th centuries, Japan was a world unto itself. The man at the heart of this empire was Tokugawa Ieyasu, a warlord who ruled with absolute control. This period is explored through the Shogun, Samurai, Geisha and a Westerner.

Japan Revealed (915.2 DVD JAP)  In English.  52 min.  2008. 

Meet an apprentice geisha, a tuna fisherman, a tattoo artist, school girls, and a robot-designing family, who demonstrate how the Japanese are masters of the future and guardians of the past.

Japan’s Killer Quake (551.22 DVD JAP)  In English.  60 min.  2011. 

In its worst crisis since World War II, Japan faces disaster on an epic scale: a rising death toll in the tens of thousands, massive destruction of homes and businesses, shortages of water and power, and nuclear reactor meltdowns. It combines reporting, personal stories, compelling eyewitness videos, and helicopter footage for a look at the science behind the catastrophe.

Ju-on (DVD FOREIGN JUO)  92 min.  2003. 

A family is killed in their own home, leaving an evil spirit behind. An unknowing home care worker enters, the spirit is awakened, and a terrifying chain of events begins.

Ju-on 2 (DVD FOREIGN JUO)  92 min.  2003. 

A car accident leaves Kyoko, a pregnant television star, devastated. With her fiancé in a coma and her unborn baby supposedly miscarried, she continues with her career in horror films. But when she agrees to appear in a pseudo-documentary about the "haunted house" where Kayako and Toshio still "reside," everyone involved with the production is missing or dead, and Kyoko, who has recently been informed that she is still pregnant, realizes that what she is carrying may not be hers at all.

 

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