Hisayasu Sato’s THE BEDROOM is a bold, yet flawed film which manages to create an utter sense of depersonalization and loneliness, while still telling a great story. The visuals are great; blue and red light coat the bodies of the comatose girls of The Sleeping Room while giant TVs with constant static decorate the background. Sato’s spare use of music also helps to create tension in the film; the soundtrack features immense buildup that never actually climax, keeping the viewer aurally on edge. Despite the fact that the film may seem confusing at first, if the viewer is willing to actively watch the film and engage with the way Sato is telling his story, the viewer will be rewarded at the end. Continue reading
“Sooner or later, everyone who loves movies comes to Ozu. He is the quietest and gentlest of directors, the most humanistic, the most serene.” — Roger Ebert
It took long enough, but I sampled my first Yasujiro Ozu film, Good Morning (Ohayo), and will soon indulge myself with as many of his works as I can locate. At one time, his films were thought to be “too Japanese” and weren’t available in the West, but if Good Morning is any indication of his craft and appeal, Ozu deserves a much wider audience. It’s a film that works at multiple levels, and only artistic geniuses like Shakespeare have been able to pull off such a universal work that works with both down to earth people and with the upper levels of critical audiences equally. Continue reading
After Suzuki was fired for making ‘incomprehensible’ movies his first effort back after a long period of industry suppression was “Story Of Sorrow And Sadness”. In this corporate-victimization expose professional model Reiko (Shiraki) is dramatically groomed for a top spot on the golf tour. Her handlers saw her as an easy ‘sell’ if she could just prove worthy enough at the chosen sport. Her surprising victory in her first professional competition opens the door for her huge celebrity status as a bikini-clad TV talk show hostess. All the trappings of public adoration are forced, almost Bunuel-like, to the surface with protagonist indifference towards her fans, abuse, irresponsibility and a bit of sexual dalliance. Let’s make it clear – this is just as incomprehensible as most other Suzuki films – filled with some Imamura-style sexuality and each scene as unexpected and unpredictable as the next. Certainly another bizarre product of the psychedelic mind of a cult icon in Japanese cinema. Continue reading
WIFE TO BE SACRIFICED is another in a long line of sleazy Nikkatsu roman-porn features – and this is another of the better ones. Somewhat reminiscent of the (also excellent) 1969 film BLIND BEAST – WIFE TO BE SACRIFICED explores subjects such as sexual obsession and domination in much the same, albeit much sleazier fashion…
The story revolves around a woman whose husband had disappeared after being arrested for molesting a child. The husband comes back after three years and decides he’s not through with his wife yet. He kidnaps her and puts her through the requisite humiliation and S&M games, including some inventive rope torture, forced pube-shaving, candlestick rape, whipping, toilet humiliation, etc…The wife tries to escape several times but is never successful, and is even raped by two passers-by during one failed escape attempt. Out on an excursion around his property, the husband finds a couple who have attempted suicide, and after raping the female, kidnaps them as well and puts them through some strong “paces” as well – including a forced enema for the young lady. Eventually the psycho’s wife finds that she’s begun to enjoy the twisted “games” as her will has now been broken and re-molded by her whackadoo husband…
Japanese pink film in Nikkatsu’s Roman Porno series starring Asami Ogawa and directed by Masaru Konuma. Ogawa’s debut film, this was the seventh and last entry in the Office Lady Journal series, which had been launched in 1972 with Office Lady Journal: Scent Of Female Cat. In their Japanese Cinema Encyclopedia: The Sex Films, the Weissers write, “This film is a perfect end to the series. Konuma is the master of free-form, rambling cinema. He manages to make ordinary life seem extraordinary with moments of kinkiness (i.e., the eroticism of a sex scene with Ms. [Aoi] Nakajima wearing a full kimono dress; or another segment where Asami is making love in a room full of baby chicks).” Continue reading
Description: Yûkoku deals with the ritual suicide of high-ranking naval officer Takeyama. His harakiri is spun out as a long, emotional, romantic ritual in which he is joined (all the way to the bitter and graphically bloody end) by his wife Reiko. The film is based on Japanese author and playwright Yukio Mishima’s own novel of the same name, which was in turn inspired by the true events of ‘Ni ni roku’ – a failed, patriotically-motivated, attempted coup by a group of officers on February 26, 1936.
One of the most visually beautiful movies ever made, Maboroshi no Hikari (1995) is reality filmmaker Kore-eda Hirokazu’s impressive first foray into fictional storytelling. For Maboroshi, Kore-eda turns his documentary director’s eye on the rugged landscape of the Western Japanese coast, which serves as a starkly sublime backdrop for a tale of one young woman’s grievous loss and promise for spiritual renewal. The film draws on the traditions of Japan’s past directorial masters Ozu and Mizoguchi, but it’s also full of gorgeous moments that are purely Kore-eda’s own. Maboroshi no Hikari anticipates the director’s later narrative filmmaking masterpieces After Life and Nobody Knows, as well as featuring an early performance from international star Asano Tadanobu.
Twentysomething Yumiko (Esumi Makiko) and her husband Ikuo (Asano) live in a small, run-down apartment in Osaka with their infant son. The young couple seems content with their life, but when Ikuo inexplicably commits suicide, Yumiko’s entire world falls apart around her. Accepting an arranged marriage in a small fishing village on the Sea of Japan, Yumiko and her child attempt a fresh start. Although she soon comes to love the raw beauty of her new home, Yumiko remains haunted by the memory of Ikuo and the mystery surrounding his sudden death. (~YesAsia) Continue reading