Hayao Miyazaki – Tonari no Totoro AKA My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

51PRJZZP6FL Hayao Miyazaki   Tonari no Totoro AKA My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152 Hayao Miyazaki   Tonari no Totoro AKA My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

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No number of superlatives that I could laud upon Hayao Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro could convey the amount of joy that it brings me, but I’ll throw out a few anyway. It’s Miyazaki’s finest work! It’s the best film of 1988! It’s the best animated feature ever made (even better than two other great animated films of ’88: Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Akira!)! I’ve seen it countless times, but it never loses a bit of its enchanting luster. It invigorates me with the same sense of gleeful pleasure that most people talk about when they describe movies like E.T. and The Wizard of Oz, but I’d gladly take it over either of those two classics. There’s something special and elusive about the wonderland Miyazaki creates, and I think he gets closer to a child’s mindset here than either of those two films do. The main reason for this is probably because Miyazaki doesn’t saddle his movie down with an adult’s unnecessary desire for plot and meaningful action. Don’t get me wrong here: it’s not as if this movie has no plot, but it doesn’t play out in the schematic way that most coming of age films do. There are no big revelations, no momentous life lessons learned, and best of all no superfluous morality. The movie takes place in an overwhelmingly decent world, but it never harps upon that decency, so it feels intrinsic instead of tacked on. Continue reading

Koji Wakamatsu – Gendai sei hanzai zekkyo hen: riyu naki boko aka Violence Without A Cause (1969)

aHRmAa Koji Wakamatsu   Gendai sei hanzai zekkyo hen: riyu naki boko aka Violence Without A Cause (1969)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152 Koji Wakamatsu   Gendai sei hanzai zekkyo hen: riyu naki boko aka Violence Without A Cause (1969)

Synopsis
Three poor young university student dropouts, with hardly any money left, hang around and decide to move to countryside Aomori where they stay at one of the boys small appartment. As they wander around the beach they spot a young couple and decide to rape the girl. They all feel rejected by society and try to get out of their state. One of the boys eventually gets a hold of a gun and commits suicide, while the other accidentally finds a gun and shoots at a policeman. The story was probably inspired by the figure of Norio Nagayama, a 19 year old serial killer who was convicted of killing 4 people in a cross-country murder spree in 1968 (see Masao Adachi’s movie AKA Serial Killer which is about this figure). Continue reading

Akira Kurosawa – Shichinin no samurai AKA Seven Samurai [+Extras] (1954)

7Samurai Akira Kurosawa   Shichinin no samurai AKA Seven Samurai [+Extras] (1954)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152 Akira Kurosawa   Shichinin no samurai AKA Seven Samurai [+Extras] (1954)

SYNOPSIS
One of the most beloved movie epics of all time, Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai (Shichinin no samurai) tells the story of a sixteenth-century village whose desperate inhabitants hire the eponymous warriors to protect them from invading bandits. This three-hour ride—featuring legendary actors Toshiro Mifune and Takashi Shimura—seamlessly weaves philosophy and entertainment, delicate human emotions and relentless action into a rich, evocative, and unforgettable tale of courage and hope.
(Criterion Collection) Continue reading

Hisayasu Sato – Shisenjiyou no Aria aka The Bedroom (1992)

2xknlr Hisayasu Sato   Shisenjiyou no Aria aka The Bedroom (1992)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152 Hisayasu Sato   Shisenjiyou no Aria aka The Bedroom (1992)

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

Yasujiro Ozu – Ohayô aka Good Morning (1959)

51oxBocSfVL Yasujiro Ozu   Ohayô aka Good Morning (1959)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152 Yasujiro Ozu   Ohayô aka Good Morning (1959)

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“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

Seijun Suzuki – Hishu monogatari aka A Story of Sorrow And Sadness (1977)

i6joz7 Seijun Suzuki   Hishu monogatari aka A Story of Sorrow And Sadness (1977)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152 Seijun Suzuki   Hishu monogatari aka A Story of Sorrow And Sadness (1977)

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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

Masaru Konuma – Wife To Be Sacrificed (1974)

wifetosacrificed Masaru Konuma   Wife To Be Sacrificed (1974)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152 Masaru Konuma   Wife To Be Sacrificed (1974)

VOL666 wrote:
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…
Continue reading

pixel Masaru Konuma   Wife To Be Sacrificed (1974)