Japan

Kinji Fukasaku & Koreyoshi Kurahara – Seishun no mon AKA The Gate Of Youth (1981)

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This hard-to-find Fukasaku/Kurahara collaboration is an interesting coming-of-age story. The boy Shisuke grows up in a coal mining community in Kyushu, during and after the Second World War, and the viewer is treated to the
circumstances that shape the young man who emerges. Read More »

Tetsuya Nakashima – Kokuhaku AKA Confessions (2010)

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A psychological thriller of a grieving mother turned cold-blooded avenger with a twisty master plan to pay back those who were responsible for her daughter’s death. Read More »

Shunji Iwai – Riri Shushu no subete AKA All About Lily Chou-Chou (2001)

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Shunji Iwai’s Lily Chou-Chou offers eternal peace. She’s ethereal, the rebirth of death (indeed, she was born the moment Mark David Chapman shot and killed John Lennon), and all-powerful, a voice for a pop-cyber culture that feeds on her Björkness. In All About Lily Chou-Chou, fans of the fictional singer use her “amniotic” music to detach themselves from the violence that consumes Japanese culture. Yuichi (Hayato Ichihara) is obsessed with Lily: He gets busted for shoplifting one of her CDs and engages in endless conversations on the website Liliphilia with fellow Lily-heads, “connecting” with the so-called ether that is Lily, just like he melds into colorful rice fields whenever he listens to Lily sing. While Yuichi is quiet and reserved, his online handle (“philia”) suggests a boy erupting with adult emotions, and though his friendship with “blue cat” is elusive it still feels within reach. Such is the dreaminess and possibility the film taps into. Read More »

Seijun Suzuki – Mikkô zero rain AKA Smashing The 0-Line (1960)

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Two reporters from competing newspapers and different moral setups investigate a drug ring, delving deeper into the underworld in the process. Read More »

Mitsuo Yanagimachi – Himatsuri AKA Fire Festival (1985)

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Situated between the mountains of Kumano and the deep blue sea, the population of the rural seaside fishing town of Nigishima falls neatly into one of three categories: mountain people, sea people and outsiders. Tatsuo is one of the first of these, a rough and boorish lumberjack who not only depends on the wooded forests above the town for his economic survival, but also takes an almost primal delight in hunting, setting snares for wild animals and standing naked in the rain communing with the ancient goddess of the mountain. Plans for the development of a new marine park, whilst broadening the economic base of a community that has hitherto been dependant on logging and fishing for its survival threaten to disturb the region’s natural equilibrium. Read More »

Kôji Wakamatsu – Kabe no naka no himegoto AKA Secrets behind the wall aka Affairs within walls (1965)

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壁の中の秘事

Three or four different stories of people living in the same apartment complex, adultery couple, student lost in voyeurism or just a lonely wife. Emotions and feelings generated by poor oppressive architecture, social study of post-war Japan, dramas of family life. Read More »

Shunji Iwai – Ichikawa Kon monogatari AKA The Kon Ichikawa Story (2006)

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Summary from yesasia – “It has been three years since pop auteur Iwai Shunji’s last film Hana and Alice, and his latest offering may seem a bit surprising. In a marked departure from his previous youth-centric works, his new film is a documentary about legendary director Ichikawa Kon, whom Iwai cites as one of his greatest influences. In a momentous career spanning over fifty years, 91-year-old Ichikawa Kon has long established himself as one of the great masters of Japanese cinema. A lifetime his junior, 44-year-old Iwai Shunji has, through acclaimed films like Swallowtail Butterfly and All About Lily Chou-Chou, emerged with a distinct voice and language of his own amongst the current generation of filmmakers. Read More »