Noboru Tanaka – Edogawa Ranpo ryôki-kan: Yaneura no sanposha AKA Watcher in the Attic (1976)

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Watcher in the Attic is a 1976 Japanese film in Nikkatsu’s Roman porno series, directed by Noboru Tanaka and starring Junko Miyashita.

In 1923 Tokyo Lady Minako is the owner of a shabby boarding house with a collection of bizarre characters for tenants. Gōda, one of her tenants, spends most of his time in the attic spying on the other tenants through holes he has drilled into the ceiling. During one of his peeping sessions, Gōda witnesses the murder of one of the tenants at the hand of Lady Minako. Gōda becomes obsessed with Lady Minako, and determines to commit a grotesque murder in order to prove to her that he is her soul mate. He kills another tenant – a priest – by dripping poison into his mouth through the ceiling. A series of grotesque murders follow. The film ends apocalyptically with the Great Kantō earthquake which kills both of them during their intercourse. Continue reading

Robert Houston – Shogun Assassin (1980)

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A sort of remake of Lone Wolf and Cub for the western market condensing the series in one film. In 1980, Americans David Weisman (producer) and Robert Houston (director) stumbled upon the Japanese Lone Wolf and Cub films (in turn based on a hugely successful manga comic book), and realised that while Western Audiences at the time would lap up the violent battles, they might not be ready for the Chanbara genre’s comparatively slow pacing and period politics. They decided to take the best bits of Lone Wolf and Cub parts 1 and 2, and add their own dubbing and simplified plot. Shogun Assassin was born, and is probably responsible to this day for the Chanbara movie’s arrival in the West. Best approached as an introduction to the Lone Wolf and Cub legend. Continue reading

Yoshishige Yoshida – Honô to onna AKA Flame and Women (1967)

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Quote:
Honoo to onma (lmpasse; the title translates as the more poetic ” Flame and Woman” neatly rendered in the French title, La Femme et la Flamme) made the same year as The Affair (whose Japanese title more poetically translates as “Flame of Feeling”), concerns the inability of a woman to find satisfaction in her traditional family s tructure. The heroine, Ritsuko, is married to Shingo, a design engineer. Shingo is unable to father a child so Ritsuko is artificially inseminated. The birth of a son, Takashi, however, does not help marital relations between husband and wife. When Sakaguchi, a doctor having marital problems with his wife, Shina, is revealed as the sperm donor, Ritsuko develops a passion for the doctor. Eventually, following other complications (Shina kidnaps Takashi and she tries to seduce Shingo), Ritsuko, Shingo, and Takashi are reunited . Continue reading

Masahiro Shinoda – Sakura no mori no mankai no shita AKA Under the Blossoming Cherry Trees (1975)

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Plot:
When a mountain man (Lone Wolf and Cub’s Tomisaburo Wakayama) kills a man and steals his wife (Shima Iwashita), he bites off more than he can chew. Rather than being a submissive victim, the beautiful woman soon browbeats her murderous husband into total compliance, convincing him to murder all but one member of his harem of dirty mountain women. She soon becomes his wife, and convinces him to take her (and the one girl she spared, now a maid) to the capital, where the mountain man begins his new vocation: collecting heads for his wife, who uses them as props in her own personal melodramas. Soon, Wakayama (his character has no name) becomes a feared figure in the city, and his wife’s collection of heads grows and grows. But how long can it last? Continue reading

Takeshi Kitano – Hana-bi AKA Fireworks (1997)

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“Hana-bi” is the highly acclaimed drama from and with Takeshi Kitano. In this film Kitano In a very honest way, also works up and reflects about his own inner life after his motorcycle accident that nearly cost him his life. So, it’s no big surprise that he implemented certain aspects of his character in the main lead as he did in Horibe.

With tranquil pictures and on a subtle level Kitano creates a story, that revolves around loneliness, isolation, guilt, love and grief. Very Kitano-like the almost poetically meditative looking pictures are interrupted by sudden bursts of violence. However, this just serves the purpose to imbue the story with the necessary amount of authenticity. Continue reading