Sogo Ishii – Kuruizaki Sanda Rodo aka Crazy Thunder Road (1980)

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Synopsis
Jin, an antagonistic youth, tries to take over a motorcycle gang once its leader, Ken, announces he’s going to retire and settle down with his girlfriend. But things aren’t so easy for Jin. The other gangs have united, and decide that Jin’s reckless ways are a thing of the past, so they band together to take him and his four followers out. Continue reading

Sogo Ishii – Gyakufunsha kazoku AKA The Crazy Family (1984)

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The Kobayashi family finally get the chance to move out of their tiny, cramped Tokyo apartment in favour of the suburban house of their dreams. But all is not well: the house is infested by termites and the family starts cracking up: Son Masaki is studying so obsessively for his exams that he’s losing his mind; daughter Erika is oblivious of all but her forthcoming record company audition, grandfather Yasukuni starts getting World War II flashbacks and father Katsuhiko is so worried about his family’s “sickness” that he thinks can only be cured by group suicide… Continue reading

Sogo Ishii – Mizu no naka no hachigatsu AKA August in the Water (1995)

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Quote:
Taking in the whole spectrum of pre-millennial new age phenomena, the bizarre August in the Water (whose English language release title is a direct translation of the Japanese, though is not to be confused with Yoichiro Takahashi’s identically titled Mizu No Naka No Hachigatsu, a 1998 coming of age drama which did the Festival circuit under the English language title of Fishes in August) is a bit of a mixed bag. Thematically, it’s a real inspiration. The X-Files notwithstanding, this sort of imaginative pseudo-scientific fantasy stands fairly uniquely amongst contemporary cinematic output. Visually the film is also a wonder, with impressive use of natural lighting in the bright exteriors, and beautifully composed Zen-like static shots of the assorted esoteric ephemera alternating with rapid multiple-angle edits and abstracted close-ups of the natural phenomena. Continue reading

Sogo Ishii – Dead End Run (2003)

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Synopsis:
Dead End Run is an hour length collection of three short films by Japanese visual genius Ishii Sogo. Starring three of Japan’s hippest and most talented actors: Yusuke Iseya (Casshern,) Masatoshi Nagase (Electric Dragon 80,000V) and the extraordinary cool Tadanobu Asano (Ichi the Killer, Electric Dragon 80,000v.) Each short focuses on the protagonists running away from a threat, be it a hitman or the police then finding themselves stuck in a dead end. Continue reading