Tuesday, November 6, 2007

DVD mini-review: Shall We Dansu? (1996)

My friend Kevin C. does a great job of introducing me to new things. So far he's:
  • loaned me the DVD set of Cowboy Bebop - to which I quickly became addicted and was heart-broken to find out that no more episodes were made
  • loaned me Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett - which I really liked
  • loaned me Spirited Away by Hayao Miyazaki - which was amazing, although I felt as though I really should have been stoned to truly have appreciated it
  • loaned recommended The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell - which I really liked (and I've borrowed the sequel, Children of God, from him, but haven't started it yet)
  • pointed me towards Casablanca Comics - which is a fantastic local store and I am now on their BTVS Season 8 subscription service, plus working my way through the Fables and Y: The Last Man trade paperbacks, as my faithful readers know

And now Kevin has done it again as I just finished watching his DVD of Shall We Dance? - the original Japanese version (not the Richard Gere/J.Lo vehicle of 2004). The story is of a Japanese man, bound by all the repressive restrictions of his society, who discovers ballroom dancing (of all things) and, in doing so, rediscovers himself. He initially attends the class because he has a crush on the distant, icy young instructor whom he saw through the window. But as the lessons progress, he finds new friends and, much to his surprise, finds he enjoys the dancing. This is not a complicated movie. It is sweet and funny, with great supporting characters. The young female lead, Mai, didn't do much for me although she does manage some character growth by the end of the film. The male lead, however, is quite charming and I thought the actor, Koji Yakusho, did a lovely job with him.

I can't wait to see what Kevin will loan me next - perhaps the movie version of Cowboy Bebop! As a point of honor, however, I do want to point out that this audio-visual and literary exchange has not been completely one-sided: I did, after all, introduce Kevin to Firefly.

Postscript - I forgot to mention that Kevin ALSO encouraged me to discover Battlestar Galactica (one of the Best Shows Ever!) and hooked me up with his Lost Season 1 DVDs when I fell behind.

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