Tetsuji Takechi – Ukiyoe zankoku monogatari aka Ukiyo-e Cruel Story (1968)

Sayo has just celebrated her sixteenth birthday when she attends a temple festival. On her way back she sees a large cherry tree which is infamous for the legend of dead white horse. When her fiancé returns from war and visits her he comes across a white horse which he takes in. Read More »

Fumio Kamei – Ikiteite yokatta AKA It Is Good to Live (1956)

From Amos Vogel’s Film as a Subversive Art:
This is one of the first documentary films about the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It coldly records the lingering effects of the bomb on the victims decades later. In a succession of realistic, shocking sequences, their lives, difficulties, and camaraderie are examined. The very objectivity of incidents, scenes, and faces makes the film the more terrifying. Read More »

Yasujirô Shimazu – Joriku dai-ippo AKA First Steps Ashore (1932)

Fascinating remake of Sternberg’s “Docks of New York.” The geometric and pictorial aspects, as in the case of many Japanese films, and especially those of this time period, fascinate as much as the story. The push/pull, attraction/repulsion dynamic of the romance between the lowly ship stoker and the “fallen woman” he rescues from drowning gives a charge to the claustrophobic confines of their scenes together. The fight scenes between the men fascinated me also: a chaotic melange of sprawling limbs, bodies leaping over one another, sharp jabs and uppercuts. Read More »

Hiroshi Shimizu – Odoriko aka Dancing Girl (1957)

In Asakusa, Tokyo, a couple of a violinist Yamano and a revue dancer Hanae lives in poverty. One day Hanae’s little sister rolls into their apartment and begins to stir things up with her riotousness. Read More »

Isshin Inudou – Bizan (2007)

Sakiko returns home to care for her mother, who is dying of cancer. What she doesn’t expect is that she will come to discover the existence of her father, the truth of which her mother has concealed for many years. Going through her mother’s box of love letters, she decides to go Tokyo to seek out her father. Her hope is that she will be able to fulfill her mother’s last wish before it is too late. Read More »

Naomi Kawase – Nanayomachi AKA Nanayo (2008)

Nanayo is the latest film from Naomi Kawase, the winner of the Grand Prix at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival with The Mourning Forest and BAFF 2003 with Shara. Making a change from Kawase’s former films, which are all set in her native Nara, Nanayo was shot in a poetic village in Thailand. The movie details the human drama that unfolds as different people of different nationalities happen to come together under one roof in a house in the middle of a forest. Lacking a common language, the art of traditional Thai massage becomes the tool they use to communicate. Read More »

Hitoshi Yazaki – Kazetachi no gogo AKA Afternoon Breezes (1980)

Natsuko nurses a helpless crush on her roommate Mitsu and tries to possess her for herself by generating conflict between Mitsu and her boyfriend, Hideo. Mitsu discovers what is happening and throws Natsuko out of the apartment. But Natsuko cannot bring herself to sever the one-way emotional bond. Read More »