Japan

Shinji Sômai – Gyoei no mure AKA The Catch (1983)

Tuna fishing. It doesn’t exactly evoke the stuff of drama, yet very dramatic is this gripping yarn (puns intended) about the solemn, solitary lives of the men who catch what ends up as our sushi and sashimi. Opening with a shot of a young couple traversing sand dunes, the woman posits a question – women or fishing? This question fuels the drama of the next two-plus hours. – See more at: link Read More »

Susumu Hani – Kanojo to kare AKA She and He (1963)

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One of Hani’s recurring themes was the status of women in modern society. His first attempt at the subject was this Antonioniesque melodrama set in a sterile high rise complex. A woman resident becomes discontent with the empty life she and her husband are leading. They encounter a street beggar who lives in poverty with his dog and a blind orphan. The woman becomes fascinated by the beggar’s world and pursues a friendship which leads to terrible discord and a tragedy. Read More »

Noboru Tanaka – (Maruhi) jorô seme jigoku AKA The Hell-Fated Courtesan (1973)

The second of Nikkatsu’s trilogy of softcore melodramas looking at prostitution in various Japanese cities, this dark look at ritualistic temple sex in Edo from director Noboru Tanaka is quite a departure from the light, comic tone of Chusei Sone’s Maruhi: Joro Ichiba. Resembling nothing so much as an Asian version of all those Roman-set Italian sex films of the 1970s, the film deals with various members of Japanese royalty subjecting women to sadomasochistic sexual practices in the temple for supposedly religious reasons. Rie Nakagawa stars with Yuri Yamashina, Moeko Ezawa, and Hijiri Abe.
~ Robert Firsching, All Movie Guide Read More »

Nobuhiko Ôbayashi – Kare no ootobai, kanojo no shima AKA His Motorbike, Her Island (1986)

After being threatened by his girlfriend’s brother, Ko (Riki Takeuchi) goes on a trip on his Kawasaki to contemplate his options. He meets Miiyo (Kiwako Harada) by chance, and the two stay in touch. He later receives an invitation to her island, where he begins to teach her how to ride, and quickly falls for her. Miiyo is an extremely quick study, and the two are a well-matched pair. However, her obsession with motorbikes seems to be leading her down a dangerous path. Read More »

Yoshihiko Matsui – Tonkei shinjû aka Pig-Chicken Suicide (1981)

Directed by Japanese underground legend Yoshihiko Matsui, most famous for his epic film Noisy Requiem and his early work with maverik Japanese director Sogo Ishii (Gojoe, Crazy Thunder Road), Pig Chicken Suicide is a veritable assault on the senses, mixing violent images of animal slaughter, racial strife and surrealism to tell the story of two Koreans living in Japan who’s love is destroyed due to overwhelming racial discrimination. Read More »

Tadashi Imai – Himeyuri no Tô AKA Tower of the Lilies (1953)

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Tower of the Lilies is the true story of a group of high school girls on the island of Okinawa, who were mobilized into military service as nurses in the closing months of World War II.

The girls, around 200 in all, were thrust into the Battle of Okinawa, one of the fiercest and bloodiest battles in the Pacific. Known as the Himeyuri Corps, they were ordered to join the medical units in large bunker caves where injured soldiers received treatment. Read More »

Ryûsuke Hamaguchi – Tengoku wa mada tôi AKA Heaven Is Still Far Away (2016)

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Yuzo (Nao Okabe) and Mitsuki (Anne Ogawa) live together in Yuzo’s small apartment, their constant companionship tender and indifferent in turn. Then Yuzo receives a call from Satsuki (Hyunri), a documentarian resolved to make a film about a now-distant family tragedy, and the three meet, to search for some way to account for their relationship to one another, the memories they share and those they’ve kept to themselves. Read More »