I'm still refusing to watch the Last Samurai, partly because it's a rergurgitated flick clothed in samurai armor, and also because the phrase "Last Samurai" should never be associated with Tom Cruise. I have, however, watched Lost in Translation and Kill Bill, which I think were fun, good movies, though in very, very different ways.
The New York Times has used these three films to write an article on Japan in Hollywood, which is a nice casual read. It's difficult to see Kill Bill as a movie portraying Japan... it seems more accurate to describe it as a movie portraying Japanese cinema, a caricature of a caricature, though I did like the brief visit to Okinawa. Lost in Translation, on the other hand, I thought was an excellent portrayal of being immersed in Japanese culture for the first time. The article delves into the complaints about the movie being racist, but, to me at least, the movie hits far too close to home and lacks the condescending tone for that category.
One of the funniest parts of the movie for me was when Bill Murray does the celebrity commercial for the whisky. It still surprises me everytime I see one of the celebrity commercials on Japanese TV, and watching Murray act out this scene I can't help but wonder if the actors for the actual commercials suffer as much as he is. Speaking of which, I found a link to Japander on evhead today. You can check out all the silly Harrison Ford et al commercials there if you like.