Japan

Akira Kurosawa – Sugata Sanshirô AKA Judo Saga (1943)

Synopsis:
Sanshiro Sugata (Susumu Fujita) wants to learn jujitsu. But after he witnesses the power of judo firsthand, he abandons his jujitsu training to study with judo master Shogoro Yano (Denjirô Ôkôchi). Under Yano, Sanshiro learns the combative elements of the art, and he also masters satori — the quiet, meditative aspects of judo style. With both in hand, he fights for the respect of his former teacher and for the love of his teacher’s daughter, Sayo (Yukiko Todoriki). Read More »

    Kazuo Hara – Gokushiteki erosu: Renka 1974 aka Extreme Private Eros: Love Song 1974 (1974)

    Quote:
    In 1972, Miyuki tells her ex-lover Kazuo that she’s going to Okinawa with their son. Kazuo decides to film her. He narrates his visits to her there: first while her flatmate is Sugako, a woman Miyuki is attracted to; then, while she works at a bar and is with Paul, an African-American soldier. Once, Kazuo brings his girlfriend, Sachiko. We see Miyuki with her son, with other bar girls, and with Sachiko. Miyuki, pregnant, returns to Tokyo and delivers a mixed-race child on her own with Kazuo and Sachiko filming. She joins a women’s commune, talks about possibilities, enjoys motherhood, and is uninterested in a traditional family. Does the filmmaker have a point of view? Read More »

      Naomi Kawase – Koma (2009)

      Kawase’s contribution to the 2009 Jeonju Digital Project.

      A Japanese-Korean man (Kitamura Kizuki) travels to a village in Nara to fulfill his late grandfather’s final wish. A local woman (Nakamura Yuko) shows him around town, but the relationship grows into something beyond visitor-and-guide. Read More »

        Keisuke Kinoshita – Koge AKA The Scent of Incense (1964) (HD)

        Quote:
        The success of The River Fuefuki encouraged Kinoshita to return to period filmmaking once again with this “epic” chamber drama about a geisha mother and her daughter. Based on the popular novel by Ariyoshi Sawako, the story begins as Ikuyo (Nobuko Otowa) is forced into prostitution from poverty; she soon becomes known as a woman who will agree to her clients’ basest desires. Although shielded from her mother’s profession, her daughter Tomoko (Mariko Okada) is deeply ashamed by her mother’s degradation—while still accepting her financial support. But when Mariko attracts the attention of a boy from a well-to-do family, the danger arises that he might discover Mariko’s secret. Read More »

          Hirokazu Koreeda – Distance (2001)

          Quote:
          With its focus on the emotional aftermath of a religious cult’s terrorist attack on Tokyo, “Distance” was always going to invite comparisons with the Aum cult’s nerve gas attack on the city’s subway system in 1995.

          Yet, rather than simply recreating that tragedy, “Distance” takes us into a far more complex, and decidedly more unsettling, drama about loss and bereavement.Three years after the fictional Ark of Truth group has contaminated Tokyo’s water supply with a genetically-engineered virus, leaving 128 people dead and 8,000 injured, four of the dead cult members’ relatives meet to pay their respects to their loved ones at the lake where their ashes were scattered. Read More »

            Eiichi Yamamoto – Sen’ya ichiya monogatari AKA One Thousand and One Nights (1969)

            Quote:
            This movie is completely wacky. Completely. Wacky. It concerns the story of a poor water seller in Baghdad who stumbles his way through ali baba and his 40 thieves, the tower of Babel, sinbad the sailor, the island of the sirens and many others stories that either i didn’t recognise from the 1001 nights stories or were just made up by the animation team on one of what must have been many acid binges. The film was made in 1969 with a crew of about 15 animators and others (the same names pop up in multiple roles) and is thus forced to employ a number of techniques to cheapen the animation, using still frames incorporating live action shots (for such hard to animate things as the ocean) and shooting live action footage of miniature models for the landscape shots. Read More »

              Noboru Tanaka – Hitozuma shudan boko chishi jiken AKA Rape and Death of a Housewife (1978)

              There’s a Nobura Tanaka masterpiece lurking behind this lurid title. Today many critics feel Tanaka was the best director in Nikkatsu’s pink film stable, but in the 70s his work was constantly overshadowed by other studio masters like Chusei Sone and Tatsumi Kumashiro. This film was his first major “break-through.” Despite the “objectionable” necrophilia scenes, the movie was applauded by the mainstream press, praised for Hideo Murota’s remarkable performance , and honored by the Japanese Academy of Films and Motion Pictures and Kinema Jumpo as the best film of 1979. Read More »