Friday, May 29, 2015

Shall We Dance?

On recommendation, I recently looked into Smartling, a translation software company, that helps businesses connect with their audiences by translating the many languages out there so people get more connected. It got me thinking about foreign films and how they change when Americans remake and transform them. So I thought I'd write about the film "Shall We Dance."

I decided on the film "Shall We Dance?" Not the 1936 film with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers which is great, but the Japanese film made in  1996 and then remade in the States in 2004.

The film is paying respect to that wonderful song by Rogers and Hammerstein in the film "The King and I"

So first up is  the Japanese film


I have to say I simply loved this film. It was enchanting and ethereal. The basic plot is a happily married man who has a wonderful wife, a teenage daughter and a great job but somehow feels lost. On his way home, standing at the train station he sees a beautiful young woman stare out the window which happens to be a ballroom dance class. He is taken with this woman and her sadness and so, with great hesitation, he enters her world and starts to learn how to ballroom dance. There are a myriad of characters, my favourite being the audacious man who works with the main character but, on the ballroom stage, he lets loose with a fake wig and a smile that can blind you. Another character is the tough and blousy woman who is brash, loud and slightly nutty. I love her. There are scenes of quiet beauty and it shows how the Japanese are careful in wanting to take on Ballroom since it goes against their customs. I found it wonderfully played, sweet and intelligent.

The remake:



This is a nice remake. It is sweet but it falls short of the brilliance of the original film. It is simply more....American. The plot is basically the same but the ending shows more of a Hollywood ending to all the characters and so is not quite as realistic as the great Japanese film (the Japanese film also has a happy ending). Richard Gere does a solid performance but I longed for the performance by Koji Yakusho who played the lead in the original film. They each played to their strengths. Naoto Takenaka is great as the wild guy with the wild hair who loves to cha-cha but is so conservative at work with his fellow dance pal. Stanley Tucci, in the remake, is also just great in this same role and I love both of them. I love Stanley Tucci in just about anything he does.  Tamiyo Kusakari plays the winsome, sad professional dancer in the original and one can't help but fall for her graceful style. She conveys elegance and aloofness quite well. Jennifer Lopez can't carry the same part in the style Tamiyo did.  Cool elegance and aloofness does not seem to go with J-Lo especially when one always sees her pursed fish pout everywhere and her booty in your face every 10 seconds.  I enjoyed seeing Susan Sarandon and Richard Jenkins who almost stole every scene he was in. The blousy woman in the remake blew it as far as I am concerned. She made her character one dimensional for the most part where the actress in the original made her very moving and one had great empathy for her.

Overall I can't say to forget to see the remake because it is fun and nice but where the remake is a good film, the Japanese original leaves one wanting more and it is a superior film worth seeing.

56 comments:

  1. The Japanese film sounds wonderful. I love a good "dance" movie, especially the old Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire films. The 90s film Strictly Ballroom still makes me laugh!

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    1. I love Rogers and Astaire and I also love that film "Strictly Ballroom"

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  2. The Japanese film sounds wonderful. I love a good "dance" movie, especially the old Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire films. The 90s film Strictly Ballroom still makes me laugh!

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  3. Saw the American version and enjoyed it, so I'll have to look for the Japanese version.

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    1. I love the Japanese version more..obviously:)

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  4. Reading the title I immediately thought of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, and then Richard Gere. I never enjoy foreign films because I dislike subtitles so much. If I'm watching the people,I miss what they're saying and if I'm reading I'm not watching. I've often thought part of my problem is I'm not a fast enough reader, then I wondered if my 3 lenses even play into it. It's just too much work and not the least bit enjoyable for me.

    Sandy at Bridge and Beyond

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    1. No better then not to see it because a film has to be enjoyable so watch the Astaire/Rogers film or "The King and I"

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  5. Must admit, I'm like Sandy about sub titles so miss films which are probably wonderful. Not seen this film but will watch out for it.

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    1. I would say a film must be fun to watch so watch the remake because that is enjoyable as well even though the Japanese film is better in my eyes:)

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  6. Seems to be the way, the remakes are almost always lacking. I'm one that doesn't really like subtitles either.

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    1. I am not for dubbing but I hate it when they have subtitles and have it in white and the background is white---makes no sense

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  7. Hi, dear Birgit! Thank you for posting this interesting double movie review. I haven't seen either film but I can already tell that Mrs. Shady and I would enjoy the Japanese original because we share a fascination with stories about Asian and Far Eastern characters. I also tend to like a subtle hint of sadness in character portrayals. I would certainly give the American remake a chance, but the casting choices alone are a turn-off. If given a choice between a Hollywood movie with big name stars and a small indie with exciting unknowns and newcomers, I'll choose the latter every time.

    Thank you, dear BB, and enjoy your weekend!

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    1. I think you will enjoy this film quite a bit and would like to know what you think

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  8. I did not know it was originally a Japanese film. My mother watched the American version and really liked it. I never saw it.

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    1. The remake is fun to watch but I love the Japanese film better

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  9. I don't know why the US has to redo foreign films. Sometimes it works, but more often than not, the original was just fine and better than the remake.

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    1. The U.S. always remakes films and sometimes they are great like "The Magnificent Seven". Since so many people never watch foreign films, they get away with it

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  10. I haven't seen either film, but your review makes me want to see the Japanese original much more. You lost me at J-Lo for the remake!
    Anabel's Travel Blog

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    1. Hahahaaaa-It will be fun to know what you think of each version

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  11. I saw the remake, but wasn't overly impressed. Now I'll make a point of watching the Japanese original!

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    1. I hope you like the original and let me know what you think!

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  12. I always learn so many things from your blog when you are talking about movies. I didn't realize that there was a Japanese movie of Shall We Dance. It does sound worthy to be seen!

    betty

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    1. It is and I find it more compelling than the remake. The remake is fun but nothing more

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  13. I saw the remake (because I won't miss anything with Richard Gere), but now you've convinced me to hunt down the original. Thanks!
    Best,
    Deb

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    1. Oh goody! I hope you see it. People have said that my hubby looks a bit like Richard Gere-I think it is the eyes

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  14. I've seen the Japanese film! It was great - you're the first person who ever mentioned seeing it, besides yours truly. It was sweet.

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    1. Yahoo!!! Another person who has seen it!! I truly enjoyed it

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  15. I must see the Japanese version. I can't remember anything about the remake other than the train scene you described, but I did like the story concept. If I saw the remake now, I might think differently since I now like Richard Gere and think Stanley Tucci is amazing and can almost tolerate Jennifer Lopez. Anyway, I want to see the Japanese version. By the way you describe it, I think I will finally be satisfied about the story. Thanks!

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    1. The story is great and one has more depth with the original version. Jlo is ok in this but she can't play aloof beauties-just not her

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  16. Something felt off about the American version...I couldn't put my finger on it. I didn't realize it was a remake. Typical Hollywood, trying to water down a great plot to appeal to the masses.

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    1. Yup that's what they do and that's why it's fun but not more. Hope you see the original

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  17. While not exactly a remake, I much preferred "Das Boot" to the Americanized "The Boat." Sure, the subtitles were tough at first, but I got used to them.

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    1. I thought they were talking about the lady in the shoe at first. Mother Goose gone bad in leather with a whip

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  18. Although, the first time I saw "Star Wars" was in Spanish. With NO subtitles. I had no idea what was going on, except I was pretty sure that dude in the black helmet was bad and that gold robot was probably gay.

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    1. The dud in the black helmet was just misunderstood and one can tell since it was actually Uncle Fester. The gold robot is gay and filed a lawsuit against Liberace

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  19. There is something about American remakes. They can't quite do it. I guess things are lost in translation. I did see the American version, heard of the Japanese version but never got around to seeing it. I tend to avoid subtitled movies as I knit while "watching" anything, so I'm not actually seeing much on screen.

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    1. The remake is perfect for sitting and doing something else because one can follow it still and you don't miss much. The original one must actually watch the film

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  20. I'd like to se the Japanese film!

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  21. I'm not sure that I ever saw the remake, but I did see that wonderful Japanese original. Sometimes the remakes work and I usually look forward to the English version of a film, though frequently I'm disappointed as well.

    In some cases dubbing a foreign film isn't too bad, but there are some films that probably wouldn't be done justice with a dubbed version.

    Now I want to go back to see both versions of Shall We Dance. It's been several years since I saw that film.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

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    1. Another person who has seen the film! I am glad you have seen it and it would be interesting to see what you think of the remake

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  22. I've seen both of these films and the Japanese version is by far the most compelling. I was totally enthralled.

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    1. Yippee!! You have seen both and I am glad you agreed with what I wrote

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  23. I never had any desire to see the American version. Still don't. The Japanese version, though, sounds pretty intriguing. I'd give it a chance, even if this isn't my usual genre.

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    1. It is not a musical by any means even though it has ballroom dancing in it. There is so much more in the Japanese film version. It really resonated with me

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  24. I saw the American version of Shall We Dance and did not like it. The Japanese version looks like one I'd adore, though. :)

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    1. I don't mind the American version-it's nice but no where close to the Japanese film version which has so much hidden nuances to it. I hope you see it and let me know what you think

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  25. I've seen the American version and liked it. Sounds like the Japanese version is so much better, though. I shall look for it. Thanks for the review.

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    1. I hope you see it because it is better:)

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  26. I'm not necessarily a romance lover, but I did enjoy the remake of this. I found it full of life, and self doubt. It was beautifully done. Of course, I did not see the Japaneese version, and that sounds like something I would enjoy for the comparison. This was a lovely write up of the two.

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    1. Thank you so much. I hope you get to see the original as it was a beautiful and sensitive film

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  27. I would have expected the Japanese version to have dinosaurs.
    Or sex robots.
    That'd be cool.

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    1. Dinosaurs eating the sex robots would be even cooler

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  28. I didn't even know about the Japanese one!

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  29. I love the original and flat out refuse to see the American remake.

    A couple notes on the original. Naoto Takenaka, the guy who plays the nutty colleague, was a major television personality when I was in Japan in the late '90s. The guy was everywhere!

    Koji Yakusho, the lead, plays a very different role in one of my all-time favorite films: Tampopo. Birgit, if you haven't seen it, you must.

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  30. I've only seen the Japanese version. There's something about remakes that always disappoint... a bit like loving the book and hating the movie.
    hugs Asha

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