Japan

Yasujirô Ozu – Sôshun AKA Early Spring (1956)

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A young man and his wife struggle within the confines of their passionless relationship while he has an extramarital romance. Read More »

    Masaki Kobayashi – Seppuku aka Harakiri (1962)

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    Following the collapse of his clan, an unemployed samurai (Tatsuya Nakadai) arrives at the manor of Lord Iyi, begging to be allowed to commit ritual suicide on the property. Iyi’s clansmen, believing the desperate ronin is merely angling for a new position, try to force his hand and get him to eviscerate himself—but they have underestimated his beliefs and his personal brand of honor. Winner of the Cannes Film Festival’s Special Jury Prize, Harakiri, directed by Masaki Kobayashi is a fierce evocation of individual agency in the face of a corrupt and hypocritical system. Read More »

      Kihachi Okamoto – Samurai aka Samurai Assassin (1965)

      Synopsis:
      February 17 to March 3, 1860, inside Edo castle. A group of assassins wait by Sakurada Gate to kill the lord of the House of Ii, a powerful man in the Tokugawa government, which has ruled Japan for 300 years. They suspect a traitor in their midst, and their suspicions fall on Niiro, an impoverished ronin who dreams of samurai status, and Kurihara, an aristocratic samurai who befriends Niiro. Niiro longs to identify his father, knowing he is a high-ranking official who will disclose himself only if Niiro achieves samurai status. With American ships in Japan’s harbors, cynicism among the assassins, and change in the air, Niiro resolves to reach ends that may prove ephemeral. Read More »

        Yôichi Takabayashi – Honjin satsujin jiken AKA Death at an Old Mansion (1976)

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        When a woman and her bridegroom are found dead in a double suicide the day after their wedding, it is up to the detective to figure out what could possibly have motivated them. Carefully and systematically, he pieces together the inner lives of the two. Read More »

          Kihachi Okamoto – Jazz Daimyo (1986)

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          A Nutshell Review: Dixieland Daimyo, 26 October 2006
          Author: DICK STEEL from Singapore

          My initial reaction was, this sure is one strange movie. Set in the late 19th century and after the end of the American Civil War, three slaves decided to make their way back to Africa, but en route, found themselves on the shores of Japan after a shipwreck. From then on, it’s a weird mix of Japanese shogun intrigue and jazz music fused into a somewhat nonsensical end. Read More »

            Kihachi Okamoto – Tokkan AKA Battle Cry (1975)

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            Peter High: Your war films seem to fall into two categories – those large, epic productions you did for Toho like Gekido no Showa-shi Okinawa kesen (The Battle of Okinawa, 1971) and the low-budget, personal ones financed by yourself, like Nikudan (The Human Bullet, 1968) and Tokkan (Batle Cry, 1975). Read More »

              Juzo Itami – Shizukana seikatsu AKA A Quiet Life (1995)

              Veteran director Juzo Itami who — shot to fame with his sharply satirical Ososhiki and Tampopo — turns to decidedly sweeter fare in this melodrama about the life of a mentally handicapped young man and his devoted sister after their famous novelist father and housewife mother go to Australia on a business trip. Adapted from the novel by Nobel Laureate and brother-in-law to Itami, Kenzaburo Oe, the film centers on Iyo (Atsuro Watabe) — a brain damaged lad who is a gifted musician — and his artist sister Ma-chan (Hinako Saeki), who slowly learn about the darker, more complicated life outside their idyllic home. One catalyst in this transition is Arai-kun (Masayuki Imai) who at first seems like not only the perfect swim instructor for Iyo — he’s kind and patient — but also the perfect boyfriend for Ma-chan. Unfortunately, Arai-kun has a darker side, which comes out in unfortunate ways. Itami’s wife, Nobuko Miyamoto, also appears. ~ Jonathan Crow, All Movie Guide Read More »