Kinji Fukasaku & Koreyoshi Kurahara – Seishun no mon AKA The Gate Of Youth (1981)

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This hard-to-find Fukasaku/Kurahara collaboration is an interesting coming-of-age story. The boy Shisuke grows up in a coal mining community in Kyushu, during and after the Second World War, and the viewer is treated to the
circumstances that shape the young man who emerges. Continue reading

Mitsuo Yanagimachi – Himatsuri AKA Fire Festival (1985)

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Quote:
Situated between the mountains of Kumano and the deep blue sea, the population of the rural seaside fishing town of Nigishima falls neatly into one of three categories: mountain people, sea people and outsiders. Tatsuo is one of the first of these, a rough and boorish lumberjack who not only depends on the wooded forests above the town for his economic survival, but also takes an almost primal delight in hunting, setting snares for wild animals and standing naked in the rain communing with the ancient goddess of the mountain. Plans for the development of a new marine park, whilst broadening the economic base of a community that has hitherto been dependant on logging and fishing for its survival threaten to disturb the region’s natural equilibrium. Continue reading

Kôji Wakamatsu – Kabe no naka no himegoto AKA Secrets behind the wall aka Affairs within walls (1965)

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壁の中の秘事

Three or four different stories of people living in the same apartment complex, adultery couple, student lost in voyeurism or just a lonely wife. Emotions and feelings generated by poor oppressive architecture, social study of post-war Japan, dramas of family life. Continue reading

Shunji Iwai – Ichikawa Kon monogatari AKA The Kon Ichikawa Story (2006)

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Summary from yesasia – “It has been three years since pop auteur Iwai Shunji’s last film Hana and Alice, and his latest offering may seem a bit surprising. In a marked departure from his previous youth-centric works, his new film is a documentary about legendary director Ichikawa Kon, whom Iwai cites as one of his greatest influences. In a momentous career spanning over fifty years, 91-year-old Ichikawa Kon has long established himself as one of the great masters of Japanese cinema. A lifetime his junior, 44-year-old Iwai Shunji has, through acclaimed films like Swallowtail Butterfly and All About Lily Chou-Chou, emerged with a distinct voice and language of his own amongst the current generation of filmmakers. Continue reading

Stephen Chow – Cheung Gong 7 hou aka CJ7 (2008)

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A poor Chinese laborer learns important lessons after his son gets a strange new toy.

Plot:
Construction worker Ti (Stephen Chow) lives in a ramshackle shanty and scavenges everything from shoes to toys from the trash dump. Despite his state of abject poverty, the earnest, lesson-spouting Ti is determined to send his son Dicky (Xu Jiao) to a posh private elementary school. Dicky, however, is a lot more interested in playing than studying, and he’d like nothing more than a CJ1 robot dog to show up his bullying classmate. Unable to afford a CJ1, Ti brings home “CJ7”, a curious rubbery green ball he found at the dump. His son isn’t impressed – until the ball shows its true alien form, morphing into a little green dog whose penchant for mischief gives even Dicky a run for his money. Stephen Chow has helped launched the careers of many a starlet, and this time CJ7 co-stars Mainland newcomer Kitty Zhang and talented child actress Xu Jiao who genderbends as Chow’s son. Chow was so impressed with Xu Jiao’s performance, he not only has more plans in store for the budding ingenue, he’s adopted her as his goddaughter. Other key comedy players include portly Stephen Chow regular Lam Chi Chung and the cuddly titular alien that serves as another testament to Chow’s ability to effectively integrate state-of-the-art CGI into his films. Continue reading

Mitsuo Yanagimachi – Jukyusai no chizu AKA The Nineteen Year-Old’s Map (1979)

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Yanagimachi’s first feature film is about a young man who makes a map of a neighborhood in which he delivers newspapers. He keeps a dossier on each family, recording their habits and rating how much he dislikes them. One family, for example, gets an X because their dog barks all the time. Another man gets an X because he refuses to pay his bill. What turns all this scary is that the young man declares “I’m a right-winger!” and starts ruthlessly calling in bomb threats on these families. He psychologically abuses the crippled mistress of his roommate until she is driven to the brink of suicide. Rather than coming up with pat explanations for such anti-social behavior, Yanagimachi only describes the actions and lets the viewer decide why these things are happening. Questions of personal responsibility versus societal influences are completely left to the viewer to sort out. Continue reading