Seijun Suzuki – Tôkyô nagaremono AKA Tokyo Drifter (1966)

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Quote:
Tokyo Drifter stands with Branded to Kill as one of the best-known and most acclaimed films of Seijun Suzuki, one of Japan’s most talented maverick directors. A colorful riot of an action drama, Tokyo Drifter, like many of Suzuki’s films, transforms a standard gangster film plot into a vehicle for his own loopy brand of filmmaking, featuring gorgeous cinematography, unconventional storytelling techniques, and a dark sense of humor. This particular example centers on Tetsu, a yakuza member who, when his gang is disbanded, remains loyal to his boss and attempts to go straight. This is no easy task, however, as the yakuza are determined to get him back into the life — or kill him if he refuses. The pressure soon forces Tetsu to go on the road, becoming the “Tokyo drifter” of the title, but even this is not enough to prevent his past from violently catching up with him. The film’s choreographed action and vibrant color palette make the frequent action sequences, including one of the most raucous barroom brawls ever put on film, seem almost like musical numbers, resulting in a spectacularly entertaining and truly original take on the gangster drama. Continue reading

Grigori Kozintsev – Gamlet AKA Hamlet [+extras] (1964)

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Synopsis:

A screen adaptation of William Shakespeare’s tragedy.
The somber Elsinore Castle that keeps secrets of many a crime is looming over the rocky coastline. Prince Hamlet once again puts the question: “To be, or not to be?” He is the first thinker in the line of warriors, a poet and a philosopher, a character so close to future generations. In the utterly corrupted kingdom, a lone hero is bound to take up arms to avenge his father’s death. This film became a champion among Lenfilm Studio’s prize-winning motion pictures – 23 awards in four years. The musical score was written by the great Russian composer Dmitry Shostakovich. Continue reading

Lev Kulidzhanov – Prestuplenie i nakazanie AKA Crime and Punishment (1969)

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Plot Synopsis
This Russian adaptation of Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment packs nearly every pivotal event from the mammoth novel into its 200 minute running time. Georgi Taratorkin stars as Raskolnikov, the impressionable student who believes himself to be above the law-and commits murder to prove his theory. Innokenti Smoktunovskiy, best known for his brilliant interpretation of the title character in the Russian Hamlet (1964), costars as police inspector Porfiry, who humbly but diligently wears down Raskolnikov’s alibi. Most cinemadaptations of Crime and Punishment end with the protagonist’s arrest; this one retains Dostoyevsky’s lengthy post-prison epilogue, in which Raskolnikov learns at long last how to be a human being.

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Richard Fleischer – Fantastic Voyage (1966)

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Scientist Jan Benes, who knows the secret to keeping soldiers shrunken for an indefinite period, escapes from behind the Iron Curtain with the help of CIA agent Grant. While being transferred, their motorcade is attacked. Benes strikes his head, causing a blood clot to form in his brain. Grant is ordered to accompany a group of scientists as they are miniaturized. The crew has one hour to get in Benes’s brain, remove the clot and get out. Continue reading