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Film

The film that Quentin Tarantino called the "Japanese Pulp Fiction"

Quentin Tarantino is known for championing foreign films and he has done so for many years, even before he became a prominent filmmaker. During his days of working at a local video store as a clerk, Tarantino regularly introduced customers to a wide range of cinematic masterpieces from all around the world.

When it comes to Japanese cinema, Tarantino has often expressed his admiration for sci-fi masterpieces such as Ishiro Honda’s 1954 gem Gojira which had a big impact on Tarantino. He has also revealed that he loves Japanese cyberpunk films, especially the 1989 classic by Shinya Tsukamoto – Tetsuo: The Iron Man.

However, there is one particular Japanese director who has often been compared to Tarantino. Shunji Iwai has led an interesting career in the contemporary landscape of filmmaking in Japan, having directed modern gems such as the 2001 coming-of-age film All About Lily Chou-Chou which received global attention and has become a cult classic since then.

“There’s a Japanese movie, All About Lily Chou-Chou, by a really terrific director, Shunji Iwai. He has my career in Japan,” Tarantino said while talking about the impact of Shunji Iwai in Japan. He went on to appreciate the truly brilliant soundtrack used in the film: “The Lily Chou-Chou soundtrack is really cool to make out to”.

The Shunji Iwai film that Tarantino referred to as the Japanese Pulp Fiction is actually one of his finest. Titled Swallowtail Butterfly, this 1996 project is also a coming-of-age gem that follows the adventures of a young girl who grows up with a ragtag group of misfits in a town flooded by immigrants after her mother is brutally murdered.

“He did a movie called Swallowtail Butterfly that was to Japan what Pulp Fiction was to America,” Tarantino once said while referring to the film’s unique visual style and the use of violence. Shunji Iwai also uses a fragmented visual narrative to tell such a moving story, a story about prejudice and the loss of humanity.

When asked about the connection to reality, Shunji Iwai explained that capitalism is a fundamental threat: “I believe that the cause of human disaster can be connected with our desire for wealth. I’m not sure if our world is getting closer to my film, but I do know that the world is always unfair and stupid and dirty… but beautiful”.

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