Thanks to everyone who came to the see the film.
"Goemon" broke the 1 million attendance barrier [on May 25th]. I've received lots of emails praising it from friends and acquaintances who are usually tough to please, but I've been amazed at how obtuse the response has been from film critics and the media.
Adventurous works that divide opinion are exactly what's needed in Japanese film right now, so why don't they understand how much this challenge means for the future of cinematic entertainment in Japan? Criticism should be left up to those with the requisite insight and intellect, and should be a means of nurturing talent and potential. At a time when outlets for proper film criticism have virtually died out, every man and his dog is excreting infantile scribblings of their impressions.
I was dumbfounded by one article in a certain weekly magazine written for the purpose of bashing Kiriya. It conveniently collected the kind of comments from self-appointed film critics (nothing like actual film criticism) that are perfect for such a biased piece of writing, as well as picking up on snide remarks from film websites, denigrating the film. It's careless and truly irresponsible. I'm appalled to no end.
Does Ichise have a point about the quality of Japanese film criticism? Many foreign film scholars share the same pessimistic view, as seen in the continuing debate on the Kinejapan mailing list. There aren't many film sites and magazines out there worth subscribing to, especially when commercial imperatives and the threat of getting blacklisted by film companies and talent agencies require writers to tippy-toe around stars and directors in insipid reviews and interviews that read like advertising copy. At the other extreme, less-inhibited venues for film discussion such as blogs and bulletin boards, user-generated review sites like Yahoo! Eiga, and Eiga Hiho magazine's devastating "Hang 'Em High" column can be great sources of cathartically sadistic entertainment, but do they serve any other purpose?
As I mentioned in my 'review', Kiriya has become a target of derision from both professional and amateur movie pundits, and not just because of his films. He's the ex-husband of J-pop star Utada Hikaru; the son of a wealthy family that owns a chain of pachinko parlours (an industry often associated with Zainichi Koreans, which hardly endears him to bigoted netizens); and has a reputation as being 'passionate', which for some translates as airheaded and arrogant.
Personally I think there are enough problems with Kiriya's style of filmmaking to justify targeted criticism, especially concerning the gap between his ambitions and his accomplishments, not to mention the failure of veteran producers like Ichise to guide an inexperienced feature filmmaker away from superfluous indulgences and to set more realistic goals. But hey, what the hell do I know? I'm just some nobody who paid 1800 yen to sit through your grand experiment.