I've been on a Japanese kick of late. I happen to return to this culture, frequently, for a vast bouquet of inspiration. Simply, the well is never dry.
The last five films I've watched this week were Japanese. One observation I've made is that the Western Cinematic tradition has lifted heavily from this world, and Akira Kurosawa ( i feel silly leaving a link here, but I'm going to assume that a good percentage of people are not that familiar with him, and do not give the same unwavering adulation to say, Stanley Kubrick) being on the receiving end of this homage ripping, while also being the most universally influential. But aside from the good type of artistic stealing which is mostly an "influential" lifting, there has been a much more malignant form of culture appropriation, which comprises of the more serious form of perjury. And yes, this bad form of stealing is rampant in cinema.
In the prior decades, distribution was the real barrier to familiarity with international cinema. The world, before NETFLIX and the web was a localized arena. So localized in fact, that believe it or not, you'd have to go to a movie theater to see a movie (perhaps a film festival, or art-house theater, school, etc). And, if you didn't catch it, then you'd have to hope for some form of taped distribution. It wasn't till the late 70's whereby people were actually renting and buying movies. At this juncture in the space time continuum, the selection was incredible limited.
With the explosion of VHS and the video store, more titles could be discovered. But, media was not ubiquitous, and our reference points were limited to stuff we heard about, or actually saw; which again, had serious limitations in breath, scope, and in memory. Image those days, in which Wikipedia, Google and Youtube were not at your beckon call, and did not serve as your assistant brain (soon to be, First Brain). Yes, scary indeed.
Say you saw something really interesting in an obscure Japanese movie from the early 70's, and were a filmmaker in the 80's and even early 90's, and you happened to steal heavily from it. In fact, even go so far as to purge it's images, its style, its flow. People would hardly know. Only a relative few. And surprisingly, unlike music and other types of arts, this type of heavy lifting would not even be frowned upon critically, and certainly not by the general movie going audience. For the most part.
The idea of originality in Western Cinema has long been a secondary by-product; a term Hollywood tried to bury (and successfully) in the 50's (purely conjecture here). It's worked. This is one of the only arts where familiarity gets a pass almost every-time. And as the post-modern infiltrated movie making in the early nineties, it was even considered cool.
But on a personal level, I always felt a more kindred liking to original works (herein I'm referring to a more direct style of moviemaking) then post modern assemblies of those styles. But that was then, and now is now.
But, "now" now, is not like the 90's now. People dream up movement phrases like, "The New Sincerity", and while this might last for "now", it can never congeal into anything resembling the classical arts movements of a prior century. Because we have moved past time oriented "movements". We are in a post-movement world; better yet, post-mechanical-watch. Human time doesn't neatly pack itself into bubbles anymore, because it's umbilical cord to our evolutionary clock has been cut.
And "now" is like the scene from the Mel Brooks film SPACEBALLS: Now "Now", Not "Then" Now. This sentence above, however is not my own, i'll gladly admit. In fact, I lifted it from a wonderful conversation between media theorist David Ryan Polgar and Douglas Rushoff. If only cinema were so nice to attribute.
I'll leave you with this apropos image from Kinji Fukasaku's BATTLES WITHOUT HONOR AND HUMANITY