Tag Archives: Japanese

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 »

Hiroshi Matsuno – Kyûketsu dokuro-sen AKA The Living Skeleton (1968)

Quote:
In this atmospheric tale of revenge from beyond the watery grave, a pirate-ransacked freighter’s violent past comes back to haunt a young woman living in a seaside town. Mixing elements of kaidan (ghost stories), doppelganger thrillers, and mad- scientist movies, Hiroshi Matsuno’s The Living Skeleton is a wild and eerie work, with beautiful widescreen, black-and-white cinematography. Read More »

Nobuhiko Ôbayashi – Haishi AKA The Deserted City (1984)

Quote:
After reading a newspaper article about a town being destroyed in a fire, Eguchi begins to recall the summer he spent there writing his thesis. It’s a beautiful canal town, the “Venice of Japan.” As he arrives, he is greeted by the daughter of the Kaibara household, Yasuko. The rest of her family seems mysteriously absent. On his first night, Eguchi hears the stifled sound of crying. He attempts to find the source, and is soon drawn into the conflict that is tearing the family apart. While he likens the town to a dream, some of the inhabitants do not share his feelings. There is a sense of being stuck in time, with ruin and death the only future. Read More »

Nobuhiko Ôbayashi – Tenkôsei AKA Exchange Students (1982)

This hilarious movie catapults two youngsters hitting puberty into the opposite sex after a fall from which they recover in each other’s bodies. The timid sensitive girl becomes the effeminate insecure boy, and the unredeeming prankster becomes the loud clumsy girl with a chip on her shoulder. Both lead actors do tremendous jobs portraying the opposite sex, and often do so delivering more than a laugh. It ends in a bittersweet tone, but it is a really cute movie with hilarious moments. Read More »

Juichiro Yamasaki – Atarashiki tami AKA Sanchu Uprising: Voices at Dawn (2015)

Synopsis:
Yamasaki’s highly inventive take on the jidaigeki (historical drama) concerns a group of rural farmers treated poorly by tax authorities in the 18th-century Okayama town of Sanchu. On the verge of starvation, the farmers protest both the rising tax rate and the lack of access to the crops they grow… until samurai are dispatched to keep them under control. A devastating uprising appears inevitable. Combining glorious black-and-white cinematography in natural-light situations, animation, and an inventive final sequence that transports us to the modern day, Sanchu Uprising is both unique in style and compelling in its theme of wrestling with difficult choices. 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 »

Nagisa Ôshima – Gishiki AKA The Ceremony (1971)

Quote:
The film takes place in postwar Japan, following a Japanese clan through their wedding and funeral ceremonies, and the lengths the family goes to preserve their traditions in spite of the damage it causes to the younger generations. Read More »