The "They Came from Japan" film series—"a celebration of modern Japanese cinema"—is still going strong at the Hollywood Theatre. While two films screened last week—the horror film Neighbor No. 13 and Takashi Miike's kiddie flick The Great Yokai War—the really interesting stuff kicks in this weekend.
Originally scheduled for Friday--but now delayed to a vague "sometime soon"—is 2004's Ultraman: The Next, a "darker, more adult" take on the goofy Japanese superhero. And starting on September 8 is 2005's Linda Linda Linda, which follows an all-girl high school rock band and features a score from James Iha, ye olde guitarist for the once-great Smashing Pumpkins. And on September 9-10? A showcase of short animation.
But aside from Kurosawa, PlayStation, and saké, the greatest contribution that the Japanese have made to this world is Godzilla. Enter Godzilla: Final Wars (2004), which plays this Saturday and Sunday. Directed by Ryuhei Kitamura—the guy behind cult action-fests Versus and Azumi—Final Wars celebrates Godzilla's 50th anniversary, and, purportedly, is the last in the series.
Godzilla's filmmakers are surely lying about this being the big green monster's final flick—but if they weren't, Final Wars would be a pretty rad conclusion. Kitamura's films are insane, full of lightning-quick edits, wailing electric guitars, ludicrous plotlines, and balls-out energy. In other words, he's a perfect match for Godzilla. Final Wars finds just about every monster Godzilla's ever fought attacking Earth at once, inspiring the Japanese government to unleash Godzilla to protect the planet. Also included: robot aliens, laser beams, space battles, pretty much every city on the planet getting thoroughly smashed, and a samurai sword-carryin' American general who looks and acts like a pissed-off Mike Ditka. There's also an all-too-brief moment in which our hero—the old-school, man-in-suit Godzilla—fights the lame-ass CG Godzilla from 1998's wince-inducing American remake. Of course the old-school Godzilla wins. And of course it's awesome.