Takashi Miike – Dead or Alive: Hanzaisha (1999)

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Handed a tedious script about a turf war in Shinjuku’s Kabuki-cho entertainment district (a maverick Chinese gang pulls a robbery which upsets organised crime; a care-worn cop lumbers towards a showdown with the troublemakers), Miike threw away half of it and used the rest as a springboard to amazing inventions. The exposition scenes are boiled down to an entire reel of ‘abstract’ action – a cataclysmic restaurant ambush, a gay man killed while sodomising a kid, the world’s longest line of coke, a homo-erotic knife-throwing act in a girlie bar – while the unrevealable ending is turned into the ultimate blast. In between, Miike offers a series of electrifyingly sad vignettes of death, failure and loss, including what must be the most disturbing stoned murder scene the genre has ever known. A future classic. (Time Out Film Guide) Continue reading

Yoshishige Yoshida – Erosu purasu Gyakusatsu AKA Eros Plus Massacre (1969)

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Synopsis:
In the 20’s, the anarchist revolutionary Sakae Osugi is financially supported by his wife, journalist Itsuko Masaoka. He spends his time doing nothing but philosophizing about political systems and free love and visiting with his lovers Yasuko and the earlier feminist Noe Ito. He conveniently defends three principles for a relationship between a man and a woman: they should be financially independent (despite the fact that he is not); they should live in different places; and they should be free to have intercourse with other partners. In 1969, twenty year-old student, Eiko Sokuta, has an active sexual life, having sex with different men. Her friend, Wada, is obsessed with fire and they usually play weird games using a camera while they read about Osugi and Ito. Continue reading

Kiyoshi Kurosawa – Kurîpî: Itsuwari no rinjin AKA Creepy (2016)

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Takakura is a former detective. He receives a request from his ex-colleague, Nogami, to examine a missing family case that occurred 6 years earlier. Takakura follows Saki’s memory. She is the only surviving family member from the case. Meanwhile, Takakura and his wife Yasuko recently moved into a new home. Their neighbor, Nishino, has a sick wife and a young teen daughter. One day, the daughter, Mio, tells him that the man is not her father and she doesn’t know him at all. Continue reading

Shunji Iwai – Love Letter (1995)

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IMDB plot summary: Hiroko Watanabe’s fiancee Itsuki died two years earlier in a mountain climbing accident. While looking through his high school yearbook, Hiroko in a fit of grief decides to write a letter to him using his old school address. Surprisingly she receives a reply, not from her dead husband, but from a woman also named Itsuki whom had known Hiroko’s husband in school. A relationship develops between the two women as they continue to exchange letters and share memories of the dead Itsuke. Continue reading

Seijun Suzuki – Tôkyô nagaremono AKA Tokyo Drifter (1966)

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Tokyo Drifter stands with Branded to Kill as one of the best-known and most acclaimed films of Seijun Suzuki, one of Japan’s most talented maverick directors. A colorful riot of an action drama, Tokyo Drifter, like many of Suzuki’s films, transforms a standard gangster film plot into a vehicle for his own loopy brand of filmmaking, featuring gorgeous cinematography, unconventional storytelling techniques, and a dark sense of humor. This particular example centers on Tetsu, a yakuza member who, when his gang is disbanded, remains loyal to his boss and attempts to go straight. This is no easy task, however, as the yakuza are determined to get him back into the life — or kill him if he refuses. The pressure soon forces Tetsu to go on the road, becoming the “Tokyo drifter” of the title, but even this is not enough to prevent his past from violently catching up with him. The film’s choreographed action and vibrant color palette make the frequent action sequences, including one of the most raucous barroom brawls ever put on film, seem almost like musical numbers, resulting in a spectacularly entertaining and truly original take on the gangster drama. Continue reading

Teinosuke Kinugasa – Jigokumon aka The Gate of Hell (1953)

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Plot :
In 1159, during an attempted coup, one of the court’s ladies in waiting disguises herself as the lord’s wife, and a loyal samurai conveys her from the city. This diversion allows the royal family to escape. After the coup fails, the samurai asks his lord to let him marry the woman as his reward. The lord grants the request and then discovers she is already married to one of the ruling family’s lieges. The samurai clings to his desire, importuning her to leave her husband, then challenging the husband to release her. Although the husband stays calm and she stays faithful, the samurai remains intemperate and stubborn, with tragic consequences. Continue reading

Hideo Sekigawa – Hiroshima (1953)

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“Hiroshima” is a feature film directed by Hideo Sekigawa and was independently produced outside of major studio system in 1953. In fact the film was supported by the Teacher’s Union of Hiroshima who helped finance the production and organized about 90,000 Hiroshima citizens who acted in the film.

The film begins with Hiroshima in the early 1950s and flashes back to scenes of the horrific aftermath following the detonation of an atomic bomb on humans for the first time in history. Continue reading