Hideo Sekigawa – Hiroshima (1953)

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“Hiroshima” is a feature film directed by Hideo Sekigawa and was independently produced outside of major studio system in 1953. In fact the film was supported by the Teacher’s Union of Hiroshima who helped finance the production and organized about 90,000 Hiroshima citizens who acted in the film.

The film begins with Hiroshima in the early 1950s and flashes back to scenes of the horrific aftermath following the detonation of an atomic bomb on humans for the first time in history. Continue reading

Seijun Suzuki – Tantei jimusho 23: Kutabare akuto-domo aka Detective bureau 23 (1963)

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Japanese director Seijun Suzuki solidified his growing cult following with this offbeat adaptation of Haruhiko Ooyabu’s crime novel. Jo Shishido stars as Det. Tajima, a smug investigator who nabs a pair of criminal gangs with flamboyant aplomb while the police remain baffled. Suzuki treats the rather hoary plotline as an excuse for dark-humored camp, and young audiences were delighted with his irreverent approach, which made him one of the few distinctive names in the ’60s assembly-line of Nikkatsu Studios. ~ (Robert Firsching, All Movie Guide) Continue reading

Hirokazu Koreeda – Umi yori mo mada fukaku AKA After the Storm (2016)

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A prize-winning author that wastes his money on gambling struggles to take back control of his existence as his aging mother and ex-wife move on with their lives, until a stormy summer night offers him a chance to bond with his young son once again.

Tara Judah wrote:
From sentiment to scenario and across his characters, places, imagery and impressions, Kore-eda’s films have a melancholic tonality that represents the aching of the human soul.

Familiar themes are revisited here including; broken families, the problem of the patriarch, strained relationships between fathers and sons, coming to terms with grief, as well as the unutterable bond that is created and strengthened through taking time to share a meal together. Continue reading

Takashi Miike – Dead or Alive 2: Tôbôsha AKA Dead or Alive 2: Birds (2000)

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From the ashes of Dead or Alive’s apocalyptic ending comes Dead or Alive 2, both a continuation of the series and a stand-alone film on par with its predecessor. Serving up shockingly graphic violence, sincere character nuance, engaging humor and transcendent magical realism with equal mastery, Dead or Alive 2 offers definitive evidence of why the New York Post hailed director Takashi Miike (Audition, Ichi the Killer) as “one of the most exciting, versatile directors working today.” Continue reading

Akira Kurosawa – Ichiban utsukushiku AKA The Most Beautiful (1944)

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The Most Beautiful is a wartime propaganda film depicting the efforts of female factory workers in a precision-lens manufacturing plant. It is episodic and anecdotal and very documentary-like. Donald Richie records specific instances of documentary techniques borrowed principally from Russian filmmakers such as the austere and static composition of its scenes. This need not be entertained to any considerable degree: the point is, holistically, the overwhelming impression is one of a document. We see many shots of the lens-making equipment, and through these learn the process of lens manufacture itself. Nearly every scene is segmented with shots of a parade (a military band, a marching platoon of young soldiers, etc.) and the film itself was shot in a real factory, a length to which Kurosawa would rarely go in later work. Continue reading

Yasuzô Masumura – Daichi no komoriuta AKA Lullaby of the Earth (1976)

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The story of an orphan girl, brought up in naive, rustic innocence by an elderly relative, who is suddenly exposed to the brutality, greed and deceptiveness of the outside world when her grandmother dies. Notwithstanding her healthy distrust of all strangers, which her upbringing instilled in her, it is not long before a cunning racketeer finds her weak point, that temptation which she cannot resist, that weakness, different as it may be, that each of us has, and brings her into his power. What follows is a depiction of her cruel descent into the depths of moral decay, as she becomes a collaborator in a system of exploitation, unbridled lust, vanity, and greed, in which she and other victims are always the losers. Continue reading