Tomu Uchida – Kiga kaikyo aka The Straight of Hunger (1965)

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IMDb user chaosrampant wrote:
We’re beating a dead horse if we begin to lament another lost treasure, another overlooked Japanese director who’s yet to receive his dues. Uchida will have to queue up in a humongous line. The film canon, as we know it, as it’s being taught to college kids in film classes, is written from a Western perspective and is so incomplete as to be near useless. It’s safe to say we’re living in the Dark Ages of cinema, in the negative time of ignorance, and that 100 years from now Straits of Hunger will feature prominently in lists of the epochal narrative films of the previous century. We may choose to keep honoring the Colombuses and pretend we invented paper or gunpowder, but film history will invariably reveal the pioneers. Continue reading

Koji Wakamatsu – Okasareta hakui aka Violated Angels (1967)

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A voyeur, invited into a dormitory for nurses, remains behind to violate and murder close to a dozen of them. Some of the nurses attempt to talk him out of ending their lives and much of the film is comprised of these conversations, but the talk doesn’t do much good. Most of the film is black and white and quite murky, but there are selected snippets of color to illustrate the aftermath of the killer’s work. Bleak and slow moving, Wakamatsu attempts to provide a political subtext for the nastiness, but it comes across as pretentious. The stabbings, rapes and beatings are shot mostly at a distance, but the tone is upsetting and the constant screaming and general air of misery is palpable. The score, by Wakamatsu, is hypnotic. Continue reading

Nagisa Oshima – Ai no corrida aka In the Realm of the Senses [+Extras] (1976)

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Based upon a true incident in 1930s Japan, Nagisa Oshima’s controversial film effectively skirts the borderline between pornography and art — making Bernardo Bertolucci’s Last Tango in Paris of four years earlier look like children’s programming in comparison. The story concerns servant and former prostitute Sada Abe (Eiko Matsuda) who becomes sexually obsessed with her employer Kizicho (Tatsuya Fuji), a businessman, after seeing him making love to his wife. After making love to Sada, Kizicho becomes obsessed with her as well. As their love-making becomes more and more intense, they find themselves unable to separate themselves from each other, until every waking hour is spent in more and more dangerous sexual acts with Sada becoming more and more of the aggressor. Finally, for the ultimate in eroticism, Kizicho agrees to be strangled during sexual ecstasy for the ultimate in orgasmic fulfillment. Continue reading

Nagisa Ôshima – Tôkyô sensô sengo hiwa AKA The Man Who Left His Will on Film (1970)

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Aesthetic and political rebel, Oshima is one of the most original directors now working in Japan. This is a metaphysical tale of a radical student filmmaker who succumbs to the illusion that he has committed suicide and left a film as his testament. Attempting to
“decipher” this film and the “dead man’s” life, he rapes his own girl (who plays along with the illusion to cure him) and retraces the “other man’s” life by means of the film, only to find himself in his own birthplace. The film testament proves incomprehensible. He therefore refilms it, intending to create a work superior to that of his illusory rival; but his girl, to save him, willfully interrupts and changes each scene. He finally realizes that he must kill the dead man — himself — in order to be free. Several key episodes, including sex scenes, are recreated by the protagonists in front of a screen showing the film testament so that they are projected onto their bodies. Throughout, the style is meticulously realistic, meticulously metaphysical.

– from Vogel’s Film as a Subversive Art Continue reading

Nobuhiro Yamashita – Linda Linda Linda (2005)

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Story: A music group of girls need to learn to play a song before the school festival.

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What distinguishes Nobuhiro Yamashita’s Linda Linda Linda from the crowd is a refreshing modesty. Rather than the usual underdog struggle against the odds culminating School of Rock style in the obligatory spectacular stage show and a fat recording contract, Linda Linda Linda’s story revolves around four highschool girls for whom learning how to play a single song in time for the school festival is the ultimate challenge. Continue reading

Kon Ichikawa – Shokei no heya AKA Punishment Room (1956)

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Kon Ichikawa’s study of gang-related violence among the youth, ‘Punishment Room’, is a brutal and nihilistic work utterly barren of hope! Yes, just the way I like a movie to be. ‘Punishment Room’ is far from the same league as Ichikawa’s masterpiece ‘Nobi’, but it is a film I better would be able to say I enjoyed watching. Though it is not much less powerful and at the release in the 50’s it were met with angry protests from parent-groups, the Japanese government and even Shintarô Ishihara, the writer of the novel ‘Punishment Room’ is based on! Plot is centered on a disgruntled university student whose disrespect and ruthlessness against authorities finally lead to his doom. He humiliate his sick, but hard-working, father at the bank in order to get a loan to fiancé a huge party. The party scene features a cool jazz band and the camera often zoom in on the girls legs. While the party goes on our hero leaves in order to beat up some members of a street gang in a pool hall. Later he drug two girls together with a pal and they bring them to an apartment and rape them! Continue reading