Japan

Izuru Kumasaka – Pâku ando rabuhoteru aka Park and Love Hotel (2007)

A movie set in a love hotel, but without a single sex scene? A 59-year-old woman as the heroine? It’s hard to imagine that particular pitch loosening purse strings at major Japanese media companies. A fatally ill teenager? That’s more like it.

Mark Schilling’s review from the Japan Times: No sex at a love hotel
A movie set in a love hotel, but without a single sex scene? A 59-year-old woman as the heroine? It’s hard to imagine that particular pitch loosening purse strings at major Japanese media companies. A fatally ill teenager? That’s more like it.
Director Izuru Kumasaka has incorporated these and other decidedly uncommercial elements into debut feature “Park and Love Hotel” (titled “Asyl” — short for “Asylum” — internationally), which won the Best First Feature Award at this year’s Berlin Film Festival. Read More »

Shu Lea Cheang – I.K.U. (2000)

Quote:
Reiko is a sex robot programmed to accumulate sexual experience. She goes through seven body types to experiences a variety of couplings. She returns to the company to download her accumulated info and escape from their control. Read More »

Shohei Imamura – Ningen Johatsu aka A Man Vanishes [+Extras] (1967)

Synopsis
Ostensibly Imamura’s first work in documentary features, A Man Vanishes is much more, heralding the future work of Kazuo Hara and Werner Herzog, amongst others, in the genre-defying mix of style and loose adherence to filmic “reality.” Imamura follows one case of a growing phenomenon of working Japanese men who, sent to other cities while their families are left behind, disappear completely. The film concerns Yoshie Hayakawa, whose fiancée vanishes from sight, leaving behind only shadowy evidence of his past, casting darkness over Hayakawa’s relationship with her sister, her fiancée’s family, and even the investigator, who himself may not be what he seems to be. Read More »

Hiroshi Shimizu – Nanatsu no umi: Kohen Teiso-hen AKA Seven Seas: Frigidity Chapter (1932)

“Seven Seas, the first of Shimizu’s great silent films of the 30s, was scripted by Kogo Noda, Ozu’s close associate, from a novel by Itsuma Maki (a pen name of the noted writer, Umitaro Hasegawa). The film is a lengthy work interweaving characters from different backgrounds and social strata in a narrative centered around the experiences of its heroine, Yumie Sone. Over two hours long, Seven Seas was released theatrically in two parts, with the first part entitled “Virginity Chapter” coming out in December 1931, while the second part, “Frigidity Chapter,” followed in March 1932. Read More »

Hiroshi Matsuno – Kyûketsu dokuro-sen AKA The Living Skeleton (1968)

Quote:
In this atmospheric tale of revenge from beyond the watery grave, a pirate-ransacked freighter’s violent past comes back to haunt a young woman living in a seaside town. Mixing elements of kaidan (ghost stories), doppelganger thrillers, and mad- scientist movies, Hiroshi Matsuno’s The Living Skeleton is a wild and eerie work, with beautiful widescreen, black-and-white cinematography. Read More »

Nobuhiko Ôbayashi – Haishi AKA The Deserted City (1984)

Quote:
After reading a newspaper article about a town being destroyed in a fire, Eguchi begins to recall the summer he spent there writing his thesis. It’s a beautiful canal town, the “Venice of Japan.” As he arrives, he is greeted by the daughter of the Kaibara household, Yasuko. The rest of her family seems mysteriously absent. On his first night, Eguchi hears the stifled sound of crying. He attempts to find the source, and is soon drawn into the conflict that is tearing the family apart. While he likens the town to a dream, some of the inhabitants do not share his feelings. There is a sense of being stuck in time, with ruin and death the only future. Read More »

Nobuhiko Ôbayashi – Tenkôsei AKA Exchange Students (1982)

This hilarious movie catapults two youngsters hitting puberty into the opposite sex after a fall from which they recover in each other’s bodies. The timid sensitive girl becomes the effeminate insecure boy, and the unredeeming prankster becomes the loud clumsy girl with a chip on her shoulder. Both lead actors do tremendous jobs portraying the opposite sex, and often do so delivering more than a laugh. It ends in a bittersweet tone, but it is a really cute movie with hilarious moments. Read More »