Japan

Shunji Iwai – Hana to Arisu AKA Hana and Alice (2004)

Synopsis:
Upon entering high school, two best friends named Hana and Alice notice a boy a year older them while waiting for the train, and they both develop a pretty strong crush on him. One day while secretly following him home, Hana witnesses the boy walk right into a wall and pass out. When he wakes up, she lies and convinces him that he must have amnesia, because he doesn’t remember the fact that she was his girlfriend. After this, hilarity ensues as the two girls attempt to run with the lie. Of course, complications soon arise. Read More »

Kenji Mizoguchi – Furusato no uta aka The Song of Home (1925)

From David Williams entry on Mizoguchi in World Film Directors:
The first of his pictures still extant, Furusato no uta (The Song of Home), is a studio assignment remote from Mizoguchi’s personal concerns, lauding traditional rural values over those of the wicked city, although it contains some montage experiments in the manner of Minoru Murata. The script by Ryunosuke Shimizu won a Ministry of Education award. Read More »

Seijun Suzuki – Yumeji (1991)

Synopsis:
Yumeji is the final film in youth-gone-berserk auteur Seijun Suzuki’s acclaimed Taisho Trilogy. Sensual and absurdist, it spins a ghost story around the character and work of real-life painter and poet Yumeji Takehisa (1884-1934). The eponymous character — conjured by Suzuki as a chronic philanderer and dreamer played by former rock star Kenji Sawada — is plagued with ideals of perfect beauty and the terror of his own demise. He falls in love with women, but can never capture their hearts. He is constantly escaping his rivals, but can never face them down. Read More »

Shunji Iwai – Rabu reta AKA Love Letter AKA When I Close My Eyes [+commentary] (1995)

Synopsis:
Hiroko Watanabe’s fiancé 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 the dead Itsuki, but from a woman with the same name whom had known Hiroko’s fiancé in school. A relationship develops between the two women as they continue to exchange letters and share memories of the dead Itsuki. Read More »

Teruo Ishii – Hîchirimen bâkuto – Nôbarydu takahadâ AKA The Tattooed Swordswoman AKA Black Cat’s Revenge AKA The Blind Woman’s Curse (1970)

Synopsis:
Akemi and the man of her clan confront their opponents; Akemi delivers a sword thrust to kill the opponents’ leader, and Aiko, his daughter, tries to interpose herself, suffering a glancing blow to her eyes, thus cutting her badly, and blinding her. Amid the ensuing fight, no one notices that a black cat laps the young woman’s wound. Years later, revenge between the two clans continue, plus added dissension amongst Akemi’s people, leading to more deaths. A new member comes to help them, but she is a strange woman – and blind. The curse of the blind woman is about to fell on the dragon-lady. Read More »

Kimiyoshi Yasuda – Zatôichi hatashi-jô AKA Zatoichi and the Fugitives (1968)

Synopsis:
Blind masseur and master swordsman Zatoichi becomes involved with a gang of bandits hiding out in a small village. While they hide in the attic of a silk mill, they manipulate the corrupt chief official of the town. Simultaneously Zatoichi tries to rescue a young woman from the sweatshop conditions of the mill. Eventually he must confront not only the leaders of the town but the outlaw gang in battle. Read More »

Kenji Misumi – Zatoichi Jigoku tabi AKA Zatoichi and the Chess Expert (1965)

Synopsis:
Zatoichi makes friends with a dangerous chess player, while fending off angry yakuza and bloodthirsty relatives out for revenge, and trying to save a sick child. Meanwhile, his luck with dice is turning… Read More »