Kihachi Okamoto – Jazz Daimyo (1986)

A Nutshell Review: Dixieland Daimyo, 26 October 2006
Author: DICK STEEL from Singapore

My initial reaction was, this sure is one strange movie. Set in the late 19th century and after the end of the American Civil War, three slaves decided to make their way back to Africa, but en route, found themselves on the shores of Japan after a shipwreck. From then on, it’s a weird mix of Japanese shogun intrigue and jazz music fused into a somewhat nonsensical end. Read More »

    Kihachi Okamoto – Tokkan AKA Battle Cry (1975)


    Peter High: Your war films seem to fall into two categories – those large, epic productions you did for Toho like Gekido no Showa-shi Okinawa kesen (The Battle of Okinawa, 1971) and the low-budget, personal ones financed by yourself, like Nikudan (The Human Bullet, 1968) and Tokkan (Batle Cry, 1975). Read More »

      Juzo Itami – Shizukana seikatsu AKA A Quiet Life (1995)

      Veteran director Juzo Itami who — shot to fame with his sharply satirical Ososhiki and Tampopo — turns to decidedly sweeter fare in this melodrama about the life of a mentally handicapped young man and his devoted sister after their famous novelist father and housewife mother go to Australia on a business trip. Adapted from the novel by Nobel Laureate and brother-in-law to Itami, Kenzaburo Oe, the film centers on Iyo (Atsuro Watabe) — a brain damaged lad who is a gifted musician — and his artist sister Ma-chan (Hinako Saeki), who slowly learn about the darker, more complicated life outside their idyllic home. One catalyst in this transition is Arai-kun (Masayuki Imai) who at first seems like not only the perfect swim instructor for Iyo — he’s kind and patient — but also the perfect boyfriend for Ma-chan. Unfortunately, Arai-kun has a darker side, which comes out in unfortunate ways. Itami’s wife, Nobuko Miyamoto, also appears. ~ Jonathan Crow, All Movie Guide Read More »

        Nagisa Ôshima – Natsu no imoto AKA Dear Summer Sister (1972)

        “Certainly the oddest Oshima film yet to surface in this country,” was how Vincent Canby, an Oshima champion, characterized Dear Summer Sister when it got its first New York release in 1985, and the film remains quite amazingly strange. Read More »

          Satyajit Ray – Sonar Kella AKA The Golden Fortress (1974)

          A young boy becomes a target for crooks, after he claims to remember his past life and mentions precious jewels in a golden fortress. Read More »

            Yôji Yamada – Otoko wa tsurai yo: Shiretoko bojo aka Tora-san 38: Goes North (1987)

            Tora-san, the näive and romantic peddler, returns once more to his home in Hokkaido where, as usual, he falls in love with a lovely young lady. The girl this time is Rinko Ueno, who has come home in an attempt to repair her relationship with her gruff veterinarian father, Junkichi ‘Jun’ Ueno. Tora-san gets caught up in the entanglements not only between Rinko and her father but between Dr. Ueno and Etsuko, a restauranteur with amorous plans for the ornery veterinarian Read More »

              Nobuhiko Obayashi – Seishun dendekedekedeke AKA The Rocking Horsemen (1992)

              It is 1965. High-school student Takeyoshi Fujiwara Yasufumi Hayashi) hears “Pipeline” by the Ventures, and is mesmerized by their unique sound. With three friends, he forms a band called “The Rocking Horsemen.” A warm and comic glimpse into high-school and small-town life in Japan in the 60’s. Read More »