# Similar Movies Like Japan: A Story of Love and Hate
Japan: A Story of Love and Hate 2008
Description: Naoki once had it all - the quick car, the executive home. Boss of his own business he lived the good-life when Japan's economy was at it's height. Then the bubble explode - and he met Yoshie.
Released: 07 Nov 2008 Director: Sean McAllister Writers: N/A Actors: Naoki Sato, Yoshie Sato, Sean McAllister Genres: Documentary
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Japan: A Story of Love and Hate Reviews:

'Japan: A Storyline of Love and Hate' is a documentary about a failed businessman living with/off his much younger girlfriend on the poverty line in Japan. The storyline is a mixture of universal tragedy (no time, no space, no freedom and increasingly no love) with a mixture of peculiarly Japanese characteristics and another characteristics that are just downright peculiar (when the hapless character bonds with his girlfriend's father over their common need of Viagra, in the presence of the entire family, one senses one is witnessing a stage that would be odd in any culture). The movie is slightly marred, however, by the film-maker's insistence on repeatedly saying us how odd Japan is, when he should be letting the storyline say itself. But it's still an intriguing, and intrinsically very sad, look at what happens when you fall through the cracks in one of the world's richest nations.


"Japan: A Storyline of Love and Hate" follows a 58-year-old postal worker living on the poverty line. The movie questions how the quality of life should be so miserable in "the world's second-richest country" (even though Japan had the world's second-largest economy at the time of the production, according to the CIA Globe Factbook, Japan ranks 28th in GDP per capita). After reading few reviews praising the movie and seeing that it won two awards every at the Honolulu Movie Festival and the Yamagata International Documentary Festival, I decided to hunt down this BBC documentary.The documentary follows Naoki Sato, who works part-time as a mailman, driving one of those loud, red motorcycles from the post office that would drive past my apartment in swarms at 5:40 each morning.As a youth in the 1960s, Naoki was a member of the Communist Party and was involved in the heavy youth protests at the time. During Japan's "bubble economy," Naoki owned a business that employed 70 workers, lived in a six-bedroom house, and purchased a fresh BMW with money (apparently he was living up to the communist penchant for hypocrisy).When Japan's bubble explode in the early '90s, Naoki's business went under, he lost his house, and he got divorced not once, not twice, but thrice. He actually lives with/off his 29-year-old girlfriend, Yoshie, in a tiny, windowless, one-room apartment. While Naoki works only part-time, Yoshie works 15 hours a day, including as a hostess at a club. She comes home drunk each night (hostesses are expected to drink with the customers) and ridicules Naoki for his lack of money. Naoki is impotent, and their relationship is cold and dysfunctional. Naoki refuses to meet Yoshie's family, fearing they will reject him since he is the same age as Yoshie's father (the two boys eventually bond over their common erectile dysfunction). In one stage Yoshie intentionally breaks Naoki's glasses for the camera. Naoki keeps a collection of about 50 pairs of glasses that Yoshie has broken. They stay together because Naoki has somehow convinced Yoshie that she needs him for protection. He also topics her to regular guilt-trips, saying her that he couldn't survive without her and she would have to be unbelievably selfish to break up with him (which I think should be considered a form of domestic abuse in some jurisdictions).I had few issues with this documentary. In addition to the bouncy, headache-inducing, "Bourne Ultimatum"-worthy camera work, "Japan" is not an accurate portrayal of the Japanese or life in Japan. At first I took documentarian Sean McAllister as a reliable expert since he has a British accent. But about five mins in, I unfortunately realized the movie would have a very narrow focus.The movie starts with McAllister jogging through his city in rural Yamagata Prefecture. He has been in Japan for two years (although he tells it has felt like five) making a documentary about "what makes Japan tick." Not surprisingly he has since abandoned that poorly realized topics and has decided to focus solely on his friend, Naoki.McAllister portrays the Japanese as cold, hostile people. While the Japanese are a tiny more reserved than Westerners, and don't have the huge circles of casual acquaintances that is normal in the West, I search most Japanese to be much more welcoming and friendly than they are portrayed in the film. While the Japanese do tend to be xenophobic, their xenophobia is more of a product of ignorance than hostility. I don't think McAllister is a reliable judge of the Japanese character, considering that he apparently doesn't speak any Japanese, despite having lived in Japan for what has felt like five years (he relies on Naoki to translate everyday, conversational Japanese, and even tells "Konnichi wa" ["Good afternoon"] when he enters a man's house at night).Naoki blames his issues on capitalism, and blames England for forcing capitalism onto Japan (even though it was the U.S. that forced launch Japan). McAllister apologizes. Apparently Naoki would like to return to the nice ol' days of precapitalist Japan, when the country upheld a rigid caste system with no social mobility, where samurai were allowed to use the sharpness of their blades on random peasants' necks with absolutely no legal repercussions. Naoki's critique of capitalism isn't really fair considering that Japan isn't a truly capitalist country. McAllister himself accurately describes Naoki's workplace as "communism pretending to be capitalism." Even though Japanese businessmen are aggressively mercantile, and the Japanese have a McCarthy-like fear of communism, the government unwittingly has a lot of the economic regulations and protections, corruption and authoritarianism of a socialist regime.Naoki's storyline is not typical, although McAllister presents it as such. In one scene, McAllister visits Yoshie's family's home. Yoshie's family lives in a small, but decent, house that is typical of the Japanese working class outside of the large cities. In other scene, Naoki and McAllister visit the home of one Mr. Mushroom Boy (whose brother committed suicide due to the pressures of Japanese work). Mr. Mushroom Boy also lives in a great house that appears upper middle class. Naoki's lifestyle isn't even typical in the movie that purports it as such.The movie does accurately portray the Japanese workplace. As is typical in Japan, Naoki finds it almost impossible to re-enter the workforce in his 50s in anything another than a bottom-rung position. One of Naoki's coworkers has been hospitalized for depression, and other of his coworkers spends his breaks sleeping on the floor because he is so exhausted. Each day starts with radio calisthenics. Naoki's bosses give everyday pep talks that inspire more resentment than encouragement, which are typical in Japan's top-down work culture.Overall, the movie suffers from presenting a rare situation as typical. One should go to any rich country and search an unpleasant person who made a lot of terrible choices and is actually living with their mistakes. That doesn't create them typical.



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