Japan

Keisuke Kinoshita – Utae wakado-tachi AKA Sing, Young People (1963)

Quote:
A college student receives a surprising offer to be a movie star in this unlikely Kinoshita film, sort of college film by the veteran director including even semi nude scene, but eventually the same themes of dreams versus reality and alienation come to the surface.
Still, it’s one of his lighthearted films. Read More »

Kenji Mizoguchi – Tokyo koshin-kyoku AKA Tokyo March [Japanese print] (1929)

IMDB:
A classic melodramatic love tragedy addressing social inequality in feudal Japan, depicted in Kenji Mizoguchi’s typical style. The nostalgic scenes of 1920s Tokyo provides a valuable visual experience set against the background of the title song, “Tokyo March.” Read More »

Nagisa Ôshima – Watashi-wa beretto AKA It’s Me Here, Bellett (1964)

Quote:
Watashi-wa beretto is a promotional film for the automobile manufacturer Isuzu Jidosha directed by Nagisa Ôshima. Yasujirô Ozu assisted as executive creative consultant. Read More »

Nagisa Ôshima – Kôshikei AKA Death by Hanging (1968)

Quote:

A clinically presented series of stark white, unembellished placards illustrates the sobering statistical data for the overwhelming public sentiment against the abolition of the death penalty as an off-screen narrator (Nagisa Oshima) provides a snide, but impassioned rebuttal to popular opinion by presenting a objective documentary of the austere and impersonal milieu associated with the methodical process of carrying out a state execution through the specific example of the appointed hanging of a convicted rapist and murderer known only as ‘R’ (Do-yun Yu): an empty, minimalist sitting room that provides an illusive, parting glimpse of a semblance of home for the condemned prisoner as he makes his way into the execution room, an assembly of unnamed official guests waiting in a segregated viewing room to witness the macabre ceremony, a procedural rehearsal of the chamber’s fail-safe sequence as the prisoner is blindfold and fitted with a noose, the actuation of trap door, the median measured time of 18 minutes before the heart completely stops and a staff physician (Rokko Toura) is able to record the official time of death. Read More »

Kaneto Shindô – Gogo no Yuigon-jo AKA A Last Note (1995)

Quote:
Veteran Japanese filmmaker Kaneto Shindo was 82 when he directed this meditation on life, death, and loss. Following the passing of her husband, elderly former actress Yoko Morimoto (Haruko Sugimura) travels to her summer home in the mountains of Central Japan. Upon her arrival, her servant Tokoyo (Nobuko Otowa) has sad news for her — her long-time gardener has recently committed suicide. Adding to Yoko’s sorrow is the arrival of Tomie, an old friend from her days in the theater, who is traveling with her husband Tohachiro Urshikuni (Hideo Kanze), also an actor. Read More »

Seijun Suzuki – Jûsangô taihi-sen ori: Sono gôshô o nerae aka Take Aim At The Police Van (1960)

A sharpshooter kills two prisoners in a police van at night. The guard on the van is suspended for six months; he’s Tamon, an upright, modest man. He begins his own investigation into the murders. Who were the victims, who are their relatives and girlfriends, who else was on the van that night? As he doggedly investigates, others die, coincidences occur, and several leads take him to the Hamaju Agency, which may be supplying call girls. Its owner is in jail, his daughter, the enigmatic Yuko, keeps turning up where Tamon goes. Tamon believes he can awaken good in people, but has he met his match? Will he solve the murders or be the next victim? And who is Akiba? Read More »

Nagisa Oshima – Seishun Zankoku Monogatari AKA Cruel Story of Youth (1960)

Nagisa Oshima’s groundbreaking film opens with young, attractive Mako and her friend hitching a ride from an old man. After her friend leaves, the man tries to rape her, and she is saved only by the handsome Kiyoshi. Later, against the background of the tumultuous 1960 U.S./Japan Security Treaty demonstrations, Kiyoshi and Mako walk along a grungy seaside lumberyard while talking about sex. He attempts to kiss her, she slaps him, and he throws her in the water. She cries out that she can’t swim. When she continues to refuse his advances, he steps on her fingers as she clings to a log. Read More »