Japan

Seijun Suzuki – Ukigusa no yado AKA Inn Of The Floating Weeds (1957)

Another Kayo-eiga (Pop Song Film), inspired by the hit Ukikusa No Yado sung by Hachiro Kasuga. Although the singer has a co-starring role, the movie was designed as a star vehicle for the new Nikkatsu hunk, Hiseaki Nitani. He plays a young gangster wanna-be, framed for a murder and sent to prison. Upon release, he gets revenge against the yakuza boss who set him up. Read More »

Tatsumi Kumashiro – Yoi-machi-gusa AKA Evening Primrose (1974)

The Taisho era was a time of turbulence in Japan. From new marks of modernity to full-blown riots, a sense of revolution filled the air. The Dam Dam Group is a small anarchist organization lead by Daijiro, a silver tongued “Benshi”, a performer who provides narratives for silent films, playing multiple roles. In other words, he was a master at the art of deception, a handy talent when it came to ‘doing jobs’ for his group. His revolutionary ideals attracted many to his squadron, but among them was a young girl who was oblivious to his group’s activities. Her name was Shino. Read More »

Takashi Ishii – Hito ga hito o ai suru koto no dôshiyô mo nasa AKA The Brutal Hopelessness of Love (2007)

Nami (Mai Kitajima) is a popular actress, but in her personal life, her marriage is at a crisis point as her husband, Yosuke (Toshiyuki Nagashima), a fellow actor, keeps having affairs. The new film they are working on together is about a heroine who kills her husband and his mistress. The film is drawing a lot of public attention because of its casting, where Nami is the heroine, her husband is played by Yosuke, complete with Yosuke’s mistress playing the part of the mistress. Then Katsuragi (Naoto Takenaka), an editor, asks Nami for an interview. Nami accepts it as if superseding herself on the character in the film. Nami has in fact killed her husband and his mistress, and she has been taken into a mental institution; Katsuragi, a psychiatrist, has been pretending to be a journalist to look for the truth. Read More »

Motohiro Torii – Sanbiki no mesubachi AKA Three Pretty Devils (1970)

Quote:
A trio of teenaged tarts try to earn money through shoplifting and prostitution scams and get into trouble deep. Hilarious scenes where the girls try to pick up gaijin at Osaka’s World Expo 70. A colorful kaleidoscope of nudity, violence, drama, yakuza machinations and music, with cameos by transvestite (transsexual?) singer/actor Ikehata Shinnosuke (aka “Peter”, see here and there), who still acts today and did voiceover for Death Note: The Last Name (!?) and Wada “Akko” Akiko who beats up yakuza thugs and croons the film’s theme song. Read More »

Keita Amemiya – Zeiram AKA Zeiramu [+Extras] (1991)

Quote:
“When two hapless electricians go out on a job, they have every reason to believe that it’ll be a job like any other. But the bumbling twosome soon find themselves zapped into a virtual reality war zone! This Zone is an artificial dimension set up by Iria, a cute, tough-as-nails bounty hunter and her super-intelligent computer, Bob, to do battle with Zeiram, a seemingly indestructible alien that’s been genetically engineered to kill. The electricians do their best to help Iria take on Zeiram in this epic adventure. Created and directed by noted illustrator Keita Amemuya (Moon Over Tao, Mechanical Violator Hakaider) and starring Yuko Moriyama (Kunoichi Lady Ninja).” Read More »

Akira Kurosawa – Ikiru (1952)

Synopsis:
Kanji Watanabe is a longtime bureaucrat in a city office who, along with the rest of the office, spends his entire working life doing nothing. He learns he is dying of cancer and wants to find some meaning in his life. He finds himself unable to talk with his family, and spends a night on the town with a novelist, but that leaves him unfulfilled. He next spends time with a young woman from his office, but finally decides he can make a difference through his job… After Watanabe’s death, co-workers at his funeral discuss his behavior over the last several months and debate why he suddenly became assertive in his job to promote a city park, and resolve to be more like Watanabe. Read More »

Kazuo Kuroki – Rônin-gai aka Street of Masterless Samurai (1990)

Kazuo Kuroki’s international award-winning period drama was produced in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the death of Shozo Makino, “the father of Japanese films.” Set in the 1830s near the end of the age of the samurai, Ronin Gai is populated by an ensemble of colorful characters, social outcasts who patronize a restaurant and brothel on the outskirts of Edo. Among them are prostitutes and masterless samurai reduced to drunkenness and debauchery. The disgraced and disillusioned former warriors get a chance at redemption when renegade samurai invade the area to murder the prostitutes. Read More »