Japan

Akira Kurosawa – Nora inu AKA Stray Dog (1949)

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quote:
“Stray Dog is an intense criminal story that examines the psychology of the characters as in compares the similarities between criminals and detectives. These similarities are balanced on a thin line based on choice, which Kurosawa dissects studiously through the camera lens. Kurosawa’s investigation of the character’s psychology creates a spiraling suspense that is enhanced through subtle surprises and brilliant cinematography. The camera use often displays shots through thin cloths, close ups, and new camera angles, which also makes the film aesthetically appealing. When Kurosawa brings together camera work and cast performance, among other cinematic aspects, he leaves the audience with a brilliantly suspenseful criminal drama, which leaves much room for introspection and retrospection.” Read More »

Koji Wakamatsu – 17-sai no fukei – shonen wa nani o mita no ka AKA Cycling Chronicles: Landscapes the Boy saw (2004)

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Kôji Wakamatsu’s Cycling Chronicles: Landscapes the Boy Saw (17-sai no fûkei – shônen wa nani o mita no ka) – a.k.a. “Cycle Chronicles – Landscapes the Boy Saw” and “17 and Life” – is scheduled to have its U.S. première at the 49th San Francisco International Film Festival (SFIFF) on April 27th at 8:45 p.m., and to subsequently be screened there on May 2nd at 6:00 p.m.. As was previously reported here and there on Twitch, the movie was screened at Regional Film Festival (Rîjonaru Firumu Fesutibaru) – “RiFF” for short – on October 31, 2004, and at the 26th PIA Film Festival in Sendai (Dai-26-kai Pia Firumu Fesutibaru in Sendai) – “PFF Sendai” for short – on November 23, 2004. It was released theatrically in Japan by Toshiki Shima’s Shima Films on July 30th of last year. Read More »

Yasuzo Masumura – Ongaku aka The Music (1972)

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Masumura has been one of the most intersting directors for many of us Japanese cinema buffs. His “Blind Beasts” is a real classic and a disturbing film, almost an archetype of movies dealing with dark sexual passions, abductions and growing affection to an abuser.

Masumura’s much less known film “The Music” also deals with dark passions, but from a more pathological point of view. Our main character is Reiko, who has problems enjoying sex with her lover and who is also not able to hear music when it’s played on the radio. A psychiatrists tries to cure her and finds out a lot about her past. Reiko’s passions, fears and experiences are presented in drastic, exciting pictures and metaphors (a big, scary pair of scissors appears again and again ready to cut off legs and maybe other important part from the body titles), combined with a very haunting score. The characters act wild and breathless, you can almost smell their feelings.
Even more interesting: The film is based on a novel by the famous writer Mishima Yukio, who wrote a lot of exciting books but who is also well known for his ritual act of public suicide in 1970 – 40 years ago.

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Totorochi< Read More »

Nagisa Oshima – Shinjuku dorobo nikki AKA Diary of a Shinjuku Thief (1968)

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Quote:
One of Oshima Nagisa’s most cinematically daring films, Diary of a Shinjuku Thief was the second production between the Art Theatre Guild and his company Sozosha. In this film, Oshima extracts some personality traits for his protagonist from Ri Chin’u (the Korean murderer largely inspired the earlier film Death by Hanging), who stole foreign literature from the library, and was especially fond of Dostoyevsky and Goethe.

The film is set mostly in a multi-storey bookstore, the Shinjuku Kinokunya, (which is one of the largest in Tokyo, and a centre for intellectuals, artists, and young children) and the larger Shinjuku area, featuring its bars, restaurants, and community. We’re initially introduced to an actual theatre troupe, Juro Karo Situation Players, who strike down any idea of realism in the film, but as the action unfolds the main character and Shinjuku thief, Birdy Hilltop, emerges. Sexuality, theatre, and politics clash. Read More »

Nagisa Oshima – Asu no taiyo AKA Tomorrow’s Sun (1959)

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As far as I know, this short film is Nagisa Oshima’s directorial debut. It seems to be in the form of a trailer for a film that doesn’t exist. It parodies the mainstream Japanese film genres of the time and is a rare glimpse at Oshima’s more playful side. Read More »

Hisao Kurosawa – A Message from Akira Kurosawa: For Beautiful Movies (2000)

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A Documentary in 10 parts covering the filmmaking of Kurosawa around the theme of making the perfect movie or as he says: A Beautyful Movie.

Kurosawa on filmmaking.

Chapter 1 – The seed of a film
Chapter 2 – Screenplays
Chapter 3 – Storyboards
Chapter 4 – Filming
Chapter 5 – Lighting
Chapter 6 – Production design
Chapter 7 – Costumes
Chapter 8 – Editing
Chapter 9 – Music
Chapter 10 – Directing
Read More »

Yasuharu Hasebe – Bôkô Kirisaki Jakku AKA Assault! Jack the Ripper (1976)

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Plot: Two restaurant employees begin a torturous and sexual killing spree
after they accidentally kill a hitch hiker and find tha
t murder and mutilation is their mutual aphrodisiac. Read More »