Yasuo Furuhata – Eki Station aka Station (1981)


A very beautiful film. This is a Ken Takakura vehicle, and as such follows his formula. Takakura plays to type as the laconic brooder who suffers multiple tragedies with manly stoicism. While the variety of his film varied greatly, his films with director Yasuo Furuhata were always of the highest quality, and this is no exception. Takakura is a cop training to be a sharpshooter for the Olympic games, he divorces his wife and abandons his daughter when he discovers she’s had an affair. Later his coach is gunned down by a fleeing criminal. Years later Takakura returns to his snowy hometown and starts an affair with a middle-aged bar owner. The story is a bit thick, with a number of subplots, yet it is extrordinarily melancholic, as Takakura seems to regret everything he’s done in his life and is made over and over again to relive his mistakes. There is very little “action” as such, and no yakuzas of any kind; but beyond that this is one of the most lushly beautiful and emotional films you can see (if you can see it), with an excellent score by Ryudo Uzaki. Continue reading

Yuuji Makiguchi – Tokugawa onna keibatsu-emaki: Ushi-zaki no kei aka Shogun’s Sadism aka Joy of Torture 2: Oxen Split Torture (1976)

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a review
by Ian Jane

I don’t know what it is with Japanese cinema and it’s affinity for violence and cruelty, but man, when they pull out all the stops they sure do a damn good job of grossing me out. This movie, Shogun’s Sadism (Ushiaki No Kei), is one of those times.

Essentially what we have are two stories, totally unrelated to each other, that exist for the soul reason of piecing together assorted scenes of torture. You see, back in the sixties there was a very popular series of films entitled The Joy Of Torture (Tokugawa Onna Keibatsu-Shi) directed by Teruo Ishii. This series ran for a total of eight volumes and proved to be quite successful. Toei Studios cashed in with this film, directed by Yuji Makiguchi (which some people believe was a pseudonym for Tereo Ishii) and gave it a similar title – the film is also known as Oxen Split Torturing. Continue reading

Kinji Fukasaku – Kuro bara no yakata AKA Black Rose Mansion (1969)



A feverishly perverse 1969 film noir oddity starring female impersonator Akihiro Maruyama. When wealthy Kyohei hires singer “Black Rose” to perform in his exclusive men’s club, he gets more than he bargains for when she attracts scores of homicidal past lovers. The film takes a bizarre twist when Kyohei’s son falls victim to the femme fatale’s unique charm. Continue reading

Edward Yang – Du li shi dai AKA A Confucian Confusion (1994)


Nominated for the Golden Palm in Cannes 1994.

I’ve just seen a marvelous film. Edward Yang’s little-seen and under-distributed A Confucian Confusion is that screwball comedy I long to see that for once is smart, engaging and jabs you where it hurts and tickles most.

As suggested by the title, it deals with the trials and tribulations of a motley of urbanites living in modern Taipei and their escalating moral decadence (or not?). Among them is the young and lovely Chen Shiang-Chyi.

The dialogue is just so fun to listen to. The scenes are so expertly staged. The humor so spot-on.

Over-the-top funny yet never losing its grip on pressing contemporary issues. Confusion is indeed an artful blend of artistry and entertainment. For an Edward yang film, this is in fact a rare sight. Continue reading

Chinlin Hsieh – Flowers of Taipei: Taiwan New Cinema (2014)



In 1982 a small group of Taiwanese filmmakers reinvented Asian cinema, among them, Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Edward Yang. Travelling from Europe to Latin America to Asia, Flowers of Taipei sets out to assess the global influence of Taiwan New Cinema.

Taiwan – tropical Pacific island devoid of tourists; former plastic manufacturing powerhouse turned technology hub in just 20 years; not a fully-fledged country for the United Nations, yet the sole Chinese territory with a vibrant democracy.

In 1982, under severe martial law, amid the stormy climate of pre-democratization, a small group of Taiwanese filmmakers set out on a daring journey to discover their own identity, and in the process to reinvent Asian cinema. Unintentionally, these gutsy youngsters managed to offset the cheap-labor image of ‘Made in Taiwan’ by bestowing a cultural identity on their beloved homeland. Taiwan New Cinema not only inaugurated modern cinema in the Chinese world, it also secured itself a firm place on the world map of contemporary filmmaking. Continue reading

Tomu Uchida – Kiga kaikyo aka The Straight of Hunger (1965)


IMDb user chaosrampant wrote:
We’re beating a dead horse if we begin to lament another lost treasure, another overlooked Japanese director who’s yet to receive his dues. Uchida will have to queue up in a humongous line. The film canon, as we know it, as it’s being taught to college kids in film classes, is written from a Western perspective and is so incomplete as to be near useless. It’s safe to say we’re living in the Dark Ages of cinema, in the negative time of ignorance, and that 100 years from now Straits of Hunger will feature prominently in lists of the epochal narrative films of the previous century. We may choose to keep honoring the Colombuses and pretend we invented paper or gunpowder, but film history will invariably reveal the pioneers. Continue reading