Sion Sono – Koi no tsumi AKA Guilty of Romance [Extended Japanese Cut] (2011)

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A grisly murder occurs in Maruyama-cho, Shibuya, Tokyo – a love hotel district – a woman was found dead in a derelict apartment. Kazuko (Miki Mizuno) is a police officer called to investigate on this case, she will discover the story of two women who, despite appearing respectable on the outside have all manner of darkness hidden away. Continue reading

Akira Kurosawa – Waga seishun ni kuinashi AKA No Regrets For Our Youth (1946)

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In Akira Kurosawa’s first film after the end of World War II, future beloved Ozu regular Setsuko Hara gives an astonishing performance as Yukie, the only female protagonist in Kurosawa’s body of work and one of his strongest heroes. Transforming herself from genteel bourgeois daughter to independent social activist, Yukie traverses a tumultuous decade in Japanese history. Continue reading

Kihachi Okamoto – Nikudan aka The Human Bullet (1968)

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The summer of 1945. As a “human bullet” of the Kamikaze Unit, 21-year-old “he” is inside a drum with a torpedo. While he waits, he looks back on a short adolescence, reminiscing on the harsh training, a friendly bookstore, and a girl he loved. A complement to The Emperor and a General, and based on personal experience, Okamoto comically portrays the stupidity of war as well as the sentiments of youth. Though filmed on a low budget as an independent production, the tone of the 16mm image, the dry and humorous monologues and the surreal beach scene etc. create a unique effect. Continue reading

Kihachi Okamoto – Eburi manshi no yûga-na seikatsu AKA The Elegant Life Of Mr. Everyman (1963)

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Eburi is a 36 year-old man. Nothing enthuses him any more. While being drunk, he promises to contribute a story to a magazine. When he sobers down, he decides to write about the life of a salaried employee like himself who is very ordinary, not particularly talented.
The following is his story:
In 1949, Eburi gets married to Natsuko. His monthly salary is 8,000 yen and hers 4,000 yen. Therefore, both have to work to support themselves. Eburi has developed a habituIl tendency to pester around when he gets drunk. One year after their marriage, son Shosuke is born. In 1959, Eburi’s mother dies in despair of her husband who has become listless due to the several ups and downs of gaining big profits and going bankrupt. His father is still alive and Eburi is enable to find a way to pay his father’s debts. He is doubtful if he can make his wife and child happy. Nevertheless, he has somehow managed to survive so far, living in one of the houses at the employee housing quarters. He gives the title “The Elegant Life of Mr. Everyman” to his story of half novel and half essay style. When it is published, it receives the Naoki Literary Prize (the award given in memory of popular writer Naoki Sanjugo). At a party to celebrate his award, he gets drunk and pesters around. Continue reading

Noboru Tanaka – Tenshi no harawata: Nami aka Angel Guts: Nami (1979)

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The series really hits its stride by the third film, Nami, which is both the artistic pinnacle of the Angel Guts cycle and a roaring good time for devotees of outrageous cinema. A spate of sexual assaults motivates tenacious reporter Nami (Kanuma) to investigate the victims and the circumstances of the crimes, but her probing leads to the awakening of some very dark impulses within herself. Chasing down the girls with her crew and indulging in masturbatory bathtub fantasies afterwards, Nami eventually crosses the line when she prods one subject into sheer insanity. Continue reading

Shinji Sômai – Shonben Rider AKA P.P. Rider (1983)

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P. P. Rider is a Japanese film dealing with three teenagers who set out to recover a kidnapped schoolmate. This capsule description, while accurate enough, makes the film sound rather like something Disney used to make to fill a couple spare weeks on his TV show. P. P. Rider isn’t that at all. It certainly wasn’t made for children.
Written by Leonard Schrader and his wife Chieko Schrader. Continue reading