Shohei Imamura

Shôhei Imamura – Hateshinaki yokubô AKA Endless Desire (1958)

Synopsis:
On 15 August 1955 at noon, on the anniversary of Japan’s surrender, five people gather outside a train station, each of them wearing the emblem of the former imperial army on their chest. On the day of the surrender, an army general had hidden a can of priceless morphin in an air-raid shelter. It had been agreed then that the general and his three soldiers would meet ten years later to share their loot. Outside the station there is now one person too many. What’s more, one of them is a woman who claims she was married to the now dead general. The four men and the woman hire a house, aiming to turn it into a real estate agency. They start digging the ground to reach the spot where the can was buried. As their work progresses, each of them becomes a victim of their own selfishness, distrust and greed. Read More »

Shohei Imamura – Ningen Johatsu aka A Man Vanishes [+Extras] (1967)

Synopsis
Ostensibly Imamura’s first work in documentary features, A Man Vanishes is much more, heralding the future work of Kazuo Hara and Werner Herzog, amongst others, in the genre-defying mix of style and loose adherence to filmic “reality.” Imamura follows one case of a growing phenomenon of working Japanese men who, sent to other cities while their families are left behind, disappear completely. The film concerns Yoshie Hayakawa, whose fiancée vanishes from sight, leaving behind only shadowy evidence of his past, casting darkness over Hayakawa’s relationship with her sister, her fiancée’s family, and even the investigator, who himself may not be what he seems to be. Read More »

Shôhei Imamura – Erogotoshi-tachi yori: Jinruigaku nyûmon AKA The Pornographers (1966)

Synopsis:
Mr. Ogata lives a complicated life: he is a pornographer making two skin flicks per day and trying to stay beneath the radar screen of the local mob; he deeply loves his ailing wife Haru who’s cursed by the restless spirit of her dead first husband; he also has a mistress, a step-son who wants to go to university, and a step-daughter entering adolescence. He lusts after his step-daughter, and when Haru finds out about those sexual advances, she asks him to marry the girl. Haru even signs over her business to him, and a crisis ensues when Ogata uses her nest egg to buy equipment so he and his pals can set up their own film processing lab. Surreal images and events weave their way into Ogata’s life. Read More »

Shôhei Imamura – Nippon konchûki AKA The Insect Woman (1963)

Synopsis:
Tome is born into poverty in rural Japan, in the late 1910s. Chuji, her father, dotes on her; her mother is less faithful. Tome becomes a neighbor’s mistress, works at his mill as World War II rages, and has a daughter. After an affair with a mill supervisor, Tome goes to Tokyo to seek her fortune. She leaves the child, Nobuko, in Chuji’s care. Tome’s a maid at a brothel, learns trade from the madam, enjoys the protection of a businessman whose mistress she becomes, and is soon herself the boss. As Chuji ages and Nobuko grows up with her own ideas, can Tome’s self-preserving schemes provide continued comfort? Or will the mice scamper over her? Read More »

Shôhei Imamura – Fukushû suru wa ware ni ari AKA Vengeance Is Mine (1979)

Synopsis:
Vengeance Is Mine is the come-back feature of master Shohei Imamura after a 10 year hiatus. The film is based on a real-life serial killer who went on a killing spree across Japan in the 60s. Read More »

Shôhei Imamura – Zegen (1987)

Quote:
This movie is black satire of Japanese imperial ambitions in the 20th century. In Meiji era Japan (1868-1910), the Japanese state sought to establish itself as an empire as a way to both catch up to and remain free from the West. These activities also lay the foundation for the disasters to come mid-century. This movie satirizes those efforts from a mid-1980s perspective, giving it an obvious subtext of being a commentary on the efforts of late 20th century Japanese businessmen abroad as well. The “hero” is a businessman who, realizing that the Japanese armed forces will likely soon be advancing across Asia, decides that they will require brothels wherever they go as well and so sets up shop in Southeast Asia. A very black comedy from one of Japan’s finest film satirists (cf. “Pigs and Battleships,” “The Pornographers”) best known abroad ca. 1999 for “The Eel” and “Black Rain” (the film based on the novel about Hiroshima, not the Michael Douglas flick). Read More »

Shôhei Imamura – Buban No Kaizoku AKA The Pirates of Bubuan (1972)

Quote:
Imamura reveals remote and impoverished islands in the Philippines to be the home of rival factions of pirates in this absorbing investigation into a little-known way of life.

“In ballsy, proto-Nick Broomfield fashion, Shohei Imamura puts himself directly in the line of danger to film THE PIRATES OF BUBUAN, a startling documentary glimpse of shady activity on the Phillipine high seas in the early 1970s. As an unintended side effect of bringing a camera crew into relatively unknown territory, Imamura also captures the experiences of native islanders eking out their day-to-day lives on both the poverty line and the idyllic shoreline.” —The Cinefamily Read More »