Japan

Yasujiro Ozu – Otona No Miru Ehon – Umarete Wa Mita Keredo AKA I Was Born, But… (1932)

Synopsis
Yoshii and his family move to a Tokyo suburb, to the same neighborhood as his boos. His two boys are initially terrorized by the school bully, and run truant. Eventually, they beat up and usurp the bully’s place, lording it over all the boys, including the boss’ son.

Review
Mr. Yoshii (Tatsuo Saito), an office clerk, has moved his young family into a new neighborhood in the suburbs, strategically located just a few blocks from his employer, Mr. Iwasaki (Takeshi Sakamoto). One afternoon, while playing outdoors, Yoshii’s younger son, Keichi (Tomio Aoki) catches the attention of the neighborhood children, among them, Iwasaki’s son, who proceed to tease him. Read More »

Yasujiro Ozu – Tokyo monogatari AKA Tokyo Story (1953)

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Synopsis
An elderly couple journey to Tokyo to visit their children and are confronted by indifference, ingratitude and selfishness. When the parents are packed off to a resort by their impatient children, the film deepens into an unbearably moving meditation on mortality Read More »

Kenji Mizoguchi – Sanshô dayû AKA Sansho the Bailiff (1954) (HD)

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Sansho Dayu… is the triumphant summation of Mizoguchi’s style and themes, as well as the most compassionate response imaginable to those atrocities which had been committed in then very recent years, in Japan and all over the world. It is the most humanist of films, but it asserts that humanism is powerless without politics, just as politics is purposeless without humanism. The last sequence is the most perfect ending in cinema, so broad in implication, so exquisite in form. The reunion of mother and son – the revelation of human love – is at once the most important thing in the world, and an event insignificant against the panorama of human suffering. The double perspective – never to see things in isolation, always in context – is assured by Mizoguchi’s style, and defines his art. Sansho Dayu is, in Gilbert Adair’s words, “one of those films for whose sake the cinema exists”.
Alexander Jacoby, Senses Of Cinema.com Read More »

Akira Kurosawa – Akahige (1965)

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In the Nineteenth Century, in Japan, the arrogant and proud just-graduated Dr. Noboru Yasumoto (Yuzo Kayama) is forced to work in the Koshikawa Clinic, a non-profit health facility ruled by Dr. Kyojio Niide (Toshir Mifune), a.k.a. “Red Beard”. “Red Beard” is a good, sentimental, but also very firm, strong and fair man. While in the clinic, Dr. Yasumoto becomes responsible for healing the hurt teenager Otoyo (Terumi Niki), and he learns a lesson of humanity, becoming a better man. Read More »

Kenji Mizoguchi – Genroku Chûshingura aka The 47 Ronin (1941)

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Genroku Chushingura, also known as The Forty-Seven Ronin of the Genroku Era, or in the case of Kenji Mizoguchi’s two-part, 220-minute adaptation, The Loyal Forty-Seven Ronin (1941-42), is one of Japan’s great historical legends. Retold in countless theatrical versions and perhaps several dozen films, Ronin tells the story of a band of masterless samurai (ronin) who exact revenge for the death of their beloved master and then commit hara-kiri. In her book Mr. Smith Goes to Tokyo: Japanese Cinema Under the American Occupation 1945-1952, Kyoko Hirano notes, “It is said that whenever a film studio fell into financial distress, it would produce a film based on this story, for a guaranteed hit.” Read More »

Kana Matsumoto & Kayo Nakamura – Tôkyô Oashisu aka Tokyo Oasis (2011)

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Plot / Synopsis
Set in Tokyo, actress Touko leaves the filming set of her latest project. She then comes across three people by random chance. She gives a ride to a man named Nagano whom she has never met before. At a small theater Kouko runs into Kikuchi – a former screen writer who now works in the small theater. Lastly, Touko meets Yasuko at the zoo. Yasuko is a women studying for her college entrance exam and applying for a job at the zoo. Read More »

Go Shibata – NN-891102 (1999)



This film’s cryptic title refers to the atomic bombing of Nagasaki (Nagasaki Nuclear 8 [August] 9 [the day] 11:02 [the time]). A 5-year-old boy survives the fateful blast and thinks that its sound has been captured on his father’s tape recorder, only to become obsessed with reproducing it when the tape appears to be empty. A first, the sound (or its absence) continues to traumatize him as he tries all manner of experiment to reproduce it, but gradually, as he grows older, it becomes oddly comforting. This emotionally powerful film features stunningly realistic flashback scenes that capture the look and feel of actual footage that could have been shot in 1940. NN-891102 was the first feature film by Go Shibata, who is perhaps better known for his 2004 film Late Bloomer. Read More »