Masahiro Shinoda – Sakura no mori no mankai no shita AKA Under the Blossoming Cherry Trees (1975)

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Plot:
When a mountain man (Lone Wolf and Cub’s Tomisaburo Wakayama) kills a man and steals his wife (Shima Iwashita), he bites off more than he can chew. Rather than being a submissive victim, the beautiful woman soon browbeats her murderous husband into total compliance, convincing him to murder all but one member of his harem of dirty mountain women. She soon becomes his wife, and convinces him to take her (and the one girl she spared, now a maid) to the capital, where the mountain man begins his new vocation: collecting heads for his wife, who uses them as props in her own personal melodramas. Soon, Wakayama (his character has no name) becomes a feared figure in the city, and his wife’s collection of heads grows and grows. But how long can it last? Continue reading

Masahiro Shinoda – Kaseki no mori AKA The Petrified Forest (1973)

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Synopsis:
Based on novel by Shintaro Ishihara, this is a human drama about the complex relationship of parent and child. Haruo spends his time working in a university hospital when he meets a childhood friend. On the other hand Haruo’s long estranged mother wishes to make amends with her lost son.

Review:
One day, a young medicine student Hauro Himoto (Ken’ichi Hagiwara) runs into his attractive ex-schoolmate Eiko Izawa (Sayoko Ninomiya) and they fall in love with each other in no time at all. The only obstacle which intrudes the couple is the owner of a barbershop who simultaneously is her lover and her employer and pesters Eiko out of his jealousy. Hauro and Eiko resolve to get rid of the insufferable male so that they can remain together without further complications… Continue reading

Masahiro Shinoda – Himiko (1974) (HD)

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Quote:
An imagined life of the prehistoric Japanese Queen Himiko, based loosely on a few mentions in Chinese chronicles. Himiko is presented as the head priestess of the Sun Goddess cult and a spirit medium. This cult later was used by the Japanese Imperial family as their claim to rule. Himiko is made queen when the king is killed, but lets the men around her rule. She is then deposed and killed because she lusts after her half-brother, who is more interested in Adahime, who supports the Earth Goddess. Continue reading

Masahiro Shinoda – Setouchi munraito serenade AKA Moonlight Serenade (1997)

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Continuing the Setouchi trilogy — which began with 1984’s MacArthur’s Children — this film looks at Japan just after World War II. The film opens with documentary footage of the 1995 Hanshin earthquake that flattened Kobe. The devastation reminds an elderly Keita Onda of the ruined landscape of Kobe just after the Allied bombing raids, which he witnessed from his home on nearby Awajishima Island. Cut to 1945, when Keita’s father, Kokichi (Kyozo Nagatsuka), receives the ashes of his eldest son who died on the battlefield. A rigid traditionalist, Kokichi decides to follow custom and return the ashes to his son’s birthplace in Kyushu. He hires out a car — a lavish expense that has the neighbors’ tongues wagging about a possible mass suicide. Instead, the family — consisting of the father, the mother Fuji (played by Shinoda’s wife, Shima Iwashita), Keita (Hideyuki Kasahara), daughter Hideko (Sayuri Kawachi), and teenaged son Koji (Jun Toba) — end up on a ferry bound for the south of Japan. Koji and his father are locked in a battle of wills. While dad preaches the value of tradition, Koji is much more interested in all things American. As the film progresses, Koji falls for a beautiful war-orphan named Yukiko (Hinano Yoshikawa). Also featured in this film are side stories about other passengers on the boat, including a sweet-talking black marketer who enlightens Kokichi on the joys of foreign liquor, a drug-addled soldier who falls in love with an impoverished woman about to turn tricks just to eat, and a dapper middle-aged man who jumps from the boat. Continue reading

Masahiro Shinoda – Himiko (1974)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

Quote:
An imagined life of the prehistoric Japanese Queen Himiko, based loosely on a few mentions in Chinese chronicles. Himiko is presented as the head priestess of the Sun Goddess cult and a spirit medium. This cult later was used by the Japanese Imperial family as their claim to rule. Himiko is made queen when the king is killed, but lets the men around her rule. She is then deposed and killed because she lusts after her half-brother, who is more interested in Adahime, who supports the Earth Goddess. Continue reading