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

Hiroshi Shimizu – Kaze no naka no kodomo AKA Children in the Wind (1937)

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The best way to describe this film would be “bright”. The story is simple, two young boys are usurped from being the head of their gang of children by the son of the man who indicts their father on charges of embezzlement (him being fired and arrested for this.) They’re sent to live with their uncle (Takeshi Sakamoto, fast becoming my favorite Japanese actor of this decade) and spend their time thinking of ways to escape back home. Father is found innocent, and they live happily ever after. This film is beautiful, the music and the sound of the children playing are both unforgettable. It was no. 4 in the Kinema Jumpo that year, and it was adapted from a Tsubota novel (his 1939 film Four Seasons of Childhood, which contains the same characters, is also based on a Tsubota book.) The cinematography is “gliding” (a term which consistently seems to be used to describe the look and feel of his films) and more reminiscent of Arigato-San than any other film I’ve seen by him. There are also some strong similarities in plot and character to Ozu’s I Was Born But… and according to Keiko McDonald he, “tells of finding himself in tears as he read in the short story (Naoya Shiga’s “Manazuru”) about the little children shuffling along a road at night”. I watched Children in the Wind without subtitles, but more than any other unsubtitled film I’ve seen, It was extremely easy to follow along with. One of my favorites from this director, and I can’t wait to see more of his children’s films. Continue reading

Senkichi Taniguchi – Akatsuki no dasso AKA Desertion at Dawn (1950)

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Synopsis:
Mikami, a Japanese soldier serving in China, is captured by the Chinese. Although he is able to escape, his troubles are far from over. He returns to his unit but is treated with contempt for the disgrace of having been captured. Mikami falls in love with Harumi, a prostitute. She tries to convince him to desert from the army, with fatal results.
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Sogo Ishii – Dead End Run (2003)

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Synopsis:
Dead End Run is an hour length collection of three short films by Japanese visual genius Ishii Sogo. Starring three of Japan’s hippest and most talented actors: Yusuke Iseya (Casshern,) Masatoshi Nagase (Electric Dragon 80,000V) and the extraordinary cool Tadanobu Asano (Ichi the Killer, Electric Dragon 80,000v.) Each short focuses on the protagonists running away from a threat, be it a hitman or the police then finding themselves stuck in a dead end. Continue reading