Shohei Imamura

Shôhei Imamura – Hateshinaki yokubô AKA Endless Desire (1958) (HD)

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Ten years after World War II, five people set out dig up a stash of morphine buried under a butcher shop in this black comedy by Shohei Imamura. Read More »

Shôhei Imamura – Mikikan-hei o otte: Marei-hen AKA In Search of the Unreturned Soldiers in Malaysia (1970)

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IN SEARCH OF THE UNRETURNED SOLDIERS IN MALAYSIA

In Malaysia, Imamura follows one false lead after another as he tries to locate unreturned Japanese who had given up the culture of their birth to integrate with Malaysian society. These wrong turns take the filmmaker on a tour through the complexities of post-war Malaysia, and allow him the time to air his outrage with the Japanese military’s conduct in Southeast Asia, focusing particularly on the 1942 Sook Ching massacre. Read More »

Shôhei Imamura – Kuroi Ame AKA Black Rain (1989)

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A somber, visually distilled, and deeply affecting portrait of the human toll and uncalculated tragedy of nuclear holocaust. In contrast to Shohei Imamura’s characteristically unrefined, primitivistic, and subversively bawdy cinema, the film is shot in high contrast black and white, creating a spare and tonally muted chronicle of dignity, survival, community, and human resilience. Through recurring literal and figurative images of regression, Imamura conveys a dual meaning, not only in the community’s noble attempt to rebuild Hiroshima and return to a semblance of normal life after the annihilating bombing but also in their collective gradual and systematic erasure from Japanese society through long-term effects of radiation sickness, infertility, cultural (and geographic) isolation, and social stigmatization. Read More »

Shôhei Imamura – Zegen (1987)

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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 – Eijanaika AKA Why Not? (1981)

This 1981 nihilist epic by Shohei Imamura is witty, grotesque, relentless, and beautifully engineered. The setting is the Edo era, when local warlords battle the emperor for control of the country, and all of Japan is under cultural pressure from its long delayed opening to the West. Political loyalties and personal loves disintegrate; the only certainty is money, and even that is crumbling. Imamura follows eight major characters through a bright, bursting, impossibly dynamic mise-en-scene, leading up to the Eijanaika (“What the hell?”) riots—a frightening, exhilarating explosion of empty freedom, the freedom of those who have lost everything. A very important film, and possibly a great one. Read More »

Shôhei Imamura – Kamigami no fukaki yokubô AKA Profound Desire of the Gods (1968)

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The culmination of Shôhei Imamura’s extraordinary examinations of the fringes of Japanese society throughout the 1960s, Profound Desires of the Gods [Kamigami no fukaki yokubô] was an 18-month super-production which failed to make an impression at the time of its release, but has since risen in stature to become one of the most legendary — albeit least seen — Japanese films of recent decades. Read More »

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 »