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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Kabei, Our Mother (DVD FOREIGN KAB)  133 min.  2008. 

After her husband is arrested on suspicion of being a Communist, a woman is left in charge of taking care of her household and her two daughters, with the help of her husband's sister, during the early days of World War II.

Kagemusha (DVD FOREIGN KAG)  180 min.  1980. 

Reconstructing the splendor of feudal Japan and the pageantry of war, Kurosawa creates a historical epic about a peasant impersonating a nobleman in battle. This is the original uncut Japanese version, not the shortened international version from 20th Century Fox.

Kamikaze Girls (DVD FOREIGN KAM)  103 min.  2004. 

An unusual friendship develops between a spunky biker girl and a bored girl stuck in rural Japan who fantasizes about 18th century France.

Kikujiro (DVD FOREIGN KIK)  116 min.  1999. 

Lonely nine-year-old Masao leaves Tokyo in search of his mother, whom he has never met. He's accompanied across the Japanese countryside by the surly, middle-aged crook Kikujiro, who does not wish to chaperone.  When Kikujiro gambles away all the money, the two must rely on their wits and the kindness of strangers.

Kuroneko (DVD FOREIGN KUR)  99 min.  2011. 

In this poetic and atmospheric horror fable, set in a village in war-torn medieval Japan, a malevolent spirit has been ripping out the throats of itinerant samurai. When a military hero is sent to dispatch the unseen force, he must struggle with his own personal demons, as well.

Kurosawa (920 DVD KUROSAWA)  215 min.  2000. 

This documentary of Japanese director Akira Kurosawa features his family, colleagues and critics from Japan and America commenting on the man and his films. Excerpts from many of his famous works are included.

Kwaidan (DVD FOREIGN KWA)  161 min.  1965. 

Four stories of the supernatural are based on Japanese folk material. In “The Black Hair,” a poor young samurai leaves his first wife to marry a rich woman. When he is unhappy in his second marriage, he returns to his first wife, who at first appears unchanged. In “The Woman of the Snow,” a woodcutter is spared by a mysterious ghost-like woman in the snow, but must promise never to tell anyone. In “Hoichi, the Earless,” a blind musician-monk named Hoichi is commanded by ghosts to sing the saga of their ancient deeds. A monk paints Hoichi's body with prayer verses to protect him, but overlooks Hoichi's ears. In “In a Cup of Tea,” a writer wonders what would happen to a person who drinks another's soul.

Late Spring (DVD FOREIGN LAT)  200 min.  1949. 

A widowed father feels compelled to marry off his beloved only daughter.

Love and Honor (DVD FOREIGN LOV)  125 min.  2006. 

Witness the emotional intensity of an age when respect was more valuable than riches and love cut more truly than any sword.  Shinnojo Mimura is a samurai, sharing a hand-to-mouth life with his beautiful wife, until he goes blind, and loses everything.

Madadayo (DVD FOREIGN MAD)  134 min.  1992. 

Set in postwar Japan, the film follows the last two decades in the life of Hyakken Uchida, a free spirited writer and teacher, highlighted by his relationship with his students who venerate him in his old age.

The Makioka Sisters (DVD FOREIGN MAK)  140 min.  1983. 

Revolving around the changing of the seasons, four sisters have taken on their family's kimono manufacturing business, over the course of a number of years leading up to the Pacific War. This is a graceful study of a family at a turning point in history, and a poignant evocation of changing times and fading customs.

Man Walking on Snow (DVD FOREIGN MAN)  103 min.  2001. 

Since the death of his wife, sake producer Nobuo Honma lives with his youngest son. Each day, he takes a walk in the winter snow. Nobuo's routine is disrupted when he asks his oldest son to come to Hokkaido.

Midnight Eagle (DVD FOREIGN MID)  133 min.  2007. 

A gifted photographer witnesses the crash of a U.S. bomber in Japan's snowy northern Alps and becomes a reluctant hero who must defy the odds to protect the plane's lethal contents from getting into the wrong hands.

Moon Child (DVD FOREIGN MOO)  119 min.  2004. 

Part futuristic science fiction and part John Woo style gunplay, this is a gothic vampire horror film from Japan. Director Takahisa Zeze brings a deliciously stylized vision to this tale of doomed friends whose gangster lifestyle becomes corrupted.

Most Honorable Son (940.5317 DVD MOS)  In English.  60 min.  2007. 

After the Pearl Harbor attack, Ben Kuroki is the first Japanese-American war hero, surviving 58 missions as an aerial gunner. But he is at the center of controversy as the lone spokesman against the racism faced by thousands of Japanese-Americans.

Musashi Miyamoto: Samurai I (DVD FOREIGN MUS)  93 min.  1954. 

Musashi is a brash, ambitious peasant seeking fame and power as a swordsman. His dreams of glory turn sour when his army is routed and he is hunted by the authorities. With a monk’s help, the swordsman calms his hot temper and becomes thoughtful.

Nanking (951 DVD NAN)  In Japanese, Chinese or English, with English captions.  90 min..  2007. 

When Japan invaded Nanking, China in early World War II, a group of unarmed Westerners established refuge for over 200,000 Chinese. The story is told through interviews with Chinese survivors, archival footage, and testimonies of Japanese soldiers, interwoven with staged readings of the Westerners' letters and diaries.

Nobody Knows (DVD FOREIGN NOB)  139 min.  2004. 

Four children are forced to rely on one another after being abandoned by their mother in this critically-acclaimed, powerful, and heartfelt story.

Norwegian Wood (DVD FOREIGN NOR)  133 min.  2010. 

It is the late 1960s in Tokyo. Students are uniting world-wide to overthrow the establishment and Toru Watanabe's personal life is similarly in turmoil. He is devoted to his first love, the beautiful and introspective Naoko. But their complex bond has been forged by the death of their best friend years before. Watanabe lives with the influence of death until Midori, a girl who is everything that Naoko is not – outgoing, vivacious, and supremely self-confident – marches into his life and Watanabe must choose between his past and his future.

Nuclear Aftershocks (363.179 DVD NUC)  In English.  60 min.  2012. 

An earthquake and tsunami crippled Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex, leaving the country's energy program in shambles. In response, Germany decided to abandon nuclear energy. Frontline correspondent Miles O'Brien examines the implications of the Fukushima accident for U.S. nuclear safety, and asks how the disaster will affect nuclear energy’ future.

The Only Son/There Was a Father (DVD FOREIGN ONL)

  • The Only Son:  83 min.  1936.  A peasant woman loves her son so much, she sacrifices everything for his Tokyo education. Ten years later, she pays her son a visit, believing that he has become successful. She is disappointed to find out that he is a night-school teacher, living in poverty with his family.
  • There Was a Father:  87 min.  1942.  After his wife’s death, a teacher raises his son alone. When a student is fatally injured, he takes responsibility, puts his son in boarding school, and becomes a factory worker. The son becomes a teacher, but wishes to quit his job and live with his father, who is horrified.

Outrage: Way of the Yakuza (DVD FOREIGN OUT)  109 min.  2011. 

In a ruthless battle for power, several yakuza clans vie for the favor of their head family in the Japanese underworld. The rival bosses seek to rise through the ranks by scheming and making allegiances sworn over sake. Longtime yakuza Otomo has seen his kind go from elaborate body tattoos and severed fingertips to important players on the stock market.

Pearl Harbor: Legacy of Attack (940.5426 DVD PEA)  In English.  90 min.  2001. 

Explore the  unsolved mysteries and startling true stories from behind the 'day of infamy' that plunged the United States into World War II, a search for a sunken Japanese midget submarine, eyewitness accounts by both American and Japanese survivors, and images captured inside the sunken hull of the battleship Arizona.

Picture Bride (DVD FOREIGN PIC)  95 min.  1995. 

In the early 1900s, a Japanese woman leaves unhappiness behind, going to Hawaii as a mail order bride to a man she knows only by a photograph. Although she is disappointed when he turns out to be older, she finds that life in this new land is exciting and satisfying.


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