Masahiro Shinoda – Kaseki no mori AKA The Petrified Forest (1973)

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Synopsis:
Based on novel by Shintaro Ishihara, this is a human drama about the complex relationship of parent and child. Haruo spends his time working in a university hospital when he meets a childhood friend. On the other hand Haruo’s long estranged mother wishes to make amends with her lost son.

Review:
One day, a young medicine student Hauro Himoto (Ken’ichi Hagiwara) runs into his attractive ex-schoolmate Eiko Izawa (Sayoko Ninomiya) and they fall in love with each other in no time at all. The only obstacle which intrudes the couple is the owner of a barbershop who simultaneously is her lover and her employer and pesters Eiko out of his jealousy. Hauro and Eiko resolve to get rid of the insufferable male so that they can remain together without further complications… Continue reading

Takashi Miike – Gokudô kuroshakai AKA Rainy Dog (1997)

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“The quietest and, in some ways, most impressive film of the trilogy tells the story of Yuji, an exiled Yakuza, now living in Taiwan. In one of the film’s many similarities to Luc Besson’s Leon, Yuji is left with a young boy, supposedly his son, when an ex-girlfriend dumps the child on him without explanation. Yuji does not let the child’s presence disrupt his violent lifestyle and he continues killing rival gang members for a local crime lord. When a hit leaves Yuji with a suitcase full of Triad money, he tries to escape Tiawan. However, when you are a stranger in a strange land and cannot trust anybody, escape and survival is almost impossible. Continue reading

Shûji Terayama – Isoppu Monogatari AKA Aesop’s Fables (1973)

Oh man, this is a gem. Highly recommended if you dig Tenjosajiki/Terayama’s musical numbers. For starters, take a peek at this lineup:

Lyrics composed by Terayama Shuji
Music composed by J.A. Seazer, Panta, Fukamachi Jun…
Performed by Zunou Keisatsu (Brain Police, far left political rock band, Les Rallizes Denudes’ Hiroshi Nar was a member at one time), Tanaka Seiji

Terayama Shuji’s slightly…dark? interpretations of the fables, mixed with the absolutely wonderful composition and experimental, theatrical vocals/instrumentation…it’s a surreal journey. Continue reading

Shûe Matsubayashi & Hugo Grimaldi – Hawai Middowei daikaikûsen: Taiheiyô no arashi AKA Storm Over the Pacific AKA I Bombed Pearl Harbor (1960)

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Synopsis:
On December 1, 1941, a Japanese fleet of 30 warships sails for Hawaii; when diplomatic negotiations in Washington fail, the task force commander, Adm. Isoroku Yamaguchi, receives orders to attack Pearl Harbor. Following the devastating aerial assault on December 7, flight navigator Koji Kitami returns to Japan and Keiko, his childhood sweetheart. Although deeply in love with the young woman, Koji fears that marriage will make him less worthy as a naval officer. During the next few months, he participates in many successful raids on U. S. and British ships and planes, but during the battle at Midway he becomes less certain of the invincibility of the Japanese fleet. While he is aboard the carrier Hiryu , the vessel is attacked by U. S. dive bombers and badly damaged. Officers order the ship abandoned, but rather than leave it as a prize of war, a Japanese destroyer is given instructions to sink the carrier. As the Hiryu goes down, Koji and others give a final salute.
— TCM.com Continue reading

Toshio Masuda – Kanzenna yugi AKA Perfect game (1958)

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In recent years, director Toshio Masuda has worked on the international stage with action-oriented movies such as Tora! Tora! Tora! and the Space Cruiser Yamato films. But he began his career in the middle-late 1950s with The Perfect Game (aka Kanzen Na Yuugi), a shockingly amoral tale of delinquency, rape, and murder that was to Japan, what In Cold Blood was to American cinema. It was among the earliest works in the career of a director who has generated little except major box office hits in Japan since the 1950s. …says Criterion. Or in short: young Akira Kobayashi of Nikkatsu’s diamond line fame’s cool combined with a tale about a heist which goes terribly wrong. Continue reading

Takeshi Kitano – Ryûzô to 7 nin no kobun tachi AKA Ryuzo and His Seven Henchmen (2015)

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From hollywoodreporter.com
To the many ways in which the career of Japanese auteur and action star Takeshi Kitano resembles that of Clint Eastwood, we can now add another: Both have made the increasingly obligatory geezer-comeback film. It was retired astronauts in Eastwood’s Space Cowboys; in Kitano’s Ryuzo and the Seven Henchmen, we get yakuza who hobble out onto not-so-mean-anymore streets attempting to regain their fearsome reputations. A bit sillier than it needs to be to earn the laughs it winds up getting, the likeable picture (which got a Japanese release in April) isn’t colorful enough to reach beyond the director’s established fan base here. Of those who follow Kitano, some will lament his small role onscreen. Continue reading

Shion Sono – The Virgin Psychics AKA Eiga: minna! Esupâ da yo! (2015)

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From Busan International Film Festival:

High school student Kamogawa Yoshiro wakes up one day to discover that he has psychic superpowers. He also soon discovers that others in the city have the gift, only some of them are hellbent on causing trouble. He becomes embroiled in several strange incidents and eventually overcomes those seeking to do the city and its people harm, meeting the woman of his dreams along the way. A film that takes a different approach to the superhero genre by introducing a joyful young man who becomes a hero not by boasting of his superpowers but by overcoming temptation.
The Virgin Psychics is an adaptation of a serial comic strip that has been published in Weekly Young Magazine since 2009. It was later made into a TV show (also by SONO Sion) in 2013 and is the director’s fifth film. SONO is the same filmmaker who brought us Love & Peace, Shinjuku Swan, The Chasing World, and the independent film Whispering Star (scheduled to be released in theaters next year), which was shot in the area ravaged by the Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdown. (PARK Jin-hee) Continue reading