Mitsuo Yanagimachi

Mitsuo Yanagimachi – Kamyu nante shiranai AKA Who’s Camus Anyway? (2005)

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Throws down the gauntlet with the very first shot, in which the camera glides sinuously all over the sprawling exterior of a university campus, caroming from one group to characters to another, for minute after self-consciously virtuosic minute, and just as you’re idly wondering whether Fred Ward is going to show up and start ranting about the opening of Touch of Evil, we suddenly pick up two film students engaged in discussion of that very topic, who then proceed to address The Player itself. Except that Altman’s achievement really is little more than a clever, hollow joke, whereas Yanagimachi has taken that sort of suffocating pomo referentiality as his subject. 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 »

Mitsuo Yanagimachi – Jukyusai no chizu AKA The Nineteen Year-Old’s Map (1979)

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Yanagimachi’s first feature film is about a young man who makes a map of a neighborhood in which he delivers newspapers. He keeps a dossier on each family, recording their habits and rating how much he dislikes them. One family, for example, gets an X because their dog barks all the time. Another man gets an X because he refuses to pay his bill. What turns all this scary is that the young man declares “I’m a right-winger!” and starts ruthlessly calling in bomb threats on these families. He psychologically abuses the crippled mistress of his roommate until she is driven to the brink of suicide. Rather than coming up with pat explanations for such anti-social behavior, Yanagimachi only describes the actions and lets the viewer decide why these things are happening. Questions of personal responsibility versus societal influences are completely left to the viewer to sort out. Read More »

Mitsuo Yanagimachi – Saraba itoshiki daichi AKA Farewell to the Land (1982)

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Even though this film has (ofifcially) no involvement by Kenji Nakagami, it still feels totally like one of his stories. People familiar with his writings set in Wakayama will cerntainly recognize a couple of similarities.

Eiga Geijutsu’s #2 for 1982.

Jinpachi Nezu really delivers an outstanding performance that got him the Kinema Junpo Award for “Best Actor”.
Beautiful cinematography by genius Masaki Tamura. Read More »