Tomu Uchida

  • Tomu Uchida – Sake to onna to yari AKA The Master Spearman (1960)

    1951-1960ActionDramaJapanTomu Uchida

    Kurando is a retired samurai. Granted a last-second reprieve from the obligation to commit Harakiri, he decides to settle down and marry one of two kabuki actresses who helped him enjoy what he thought would be his final days.Read More »

  • Tomu Uchida – Dotanba AKA The Eleventh Hour (1957)

    1951-1960AsianClassicsJapanTomu Uchida

    Based on a 1956 television feature on Japan’s national network, NHK, this is one of Uchida’s rarest films. A socially conscious drama with a contemporary backdrop, Dotanba focuses on the attempts to rescue a group of trapped miners. The title is a figure of speech — (essentially “last minute” or “eleventh hour”) — that refers to a situation of peril. The film boasts a script co-written by Uchida and Akira Kurosawa’s frequent screenwriter, Shinobu Hashimoto, and stars Kurosawa’s frequent star Takashi Shimura.Read More »

  • Tomu Uchida – Koiya koi nasuna koi AKA The Mad Fox [+ commentary] (1962)

    Tomu Uchida1961-1970DramaFantasyJapan

    Colourful, wildly stylised, immense captivating fable, including animation, kabuki and butoh and collapsing sets. About a soothsayer at court who was driven to insanity by the murder of his lover and will marry her likeness. And indeed, she’s a fox in human form!Read More »

  • Tomu Uchida – Mori to Mizuumi no Matsuri aka The Outsiders (1958)

    1951-1960AsianDramaJapanTomu Uchida

    Japanese Title: 森と湖のまつり

    quote:One of the major joys of writing about Japanese movies is that whenever you begin to get that tired, jaded feeling that you think you’ve seen it all and that there’s nothing left that’s ever going to set your pulse racing, you stumble across a whole previously hidden seam of movies that completely revolutionises any ideas of what Japanese cinema is. I remember getting this feeling watching the works of Hiroshi Shimizu at the 2003 Tokyo FILMeX, and I got it again at the same festival exactly one year later, during a 13-film retrospective of Tomu Uchida, which travelled to the Rotterdam Film Festival in a slimmed-down version a couple of months later.Read More »

  • Tomu Uchida – Jinsei-gekijô: Hishakaku to kiratsune aka Theater of Life: Hishakaku and Kiratsune (1968)

    1961-1970AsianClassicsJapanTomu Uchida

    Hishakaku (Koji Tsuruta), a kyakubun (visitor) with the Kokin gang, frees his lover Otoyo (Junko Fuji) from a brothel run by boss Oyokota (Tatsuo Endo), accompanied by Miyagawa (Ken Takakura) and other Kokin gangsters — and consequently brawls with Oyokota’s gang. After killing several of Oyokota’s men, including a former anikibun (elder brother) who has betrayed him, Hishakaku flees, with the police in close pursuit, and takes refuge in a strange house. There, he encounters Kiratsune (Ryutaro Tatsumi), an old man who calmly invites him in, gives him sake, and advises him to give himself up. Struck by the nobility of the old man’s character and the sageness of his advice, Hishakaku does as he says.Read More »

  • Tomu Uchida – Tasogare sakaba AKA Twilight Saloon (1955)

    1951-1960ClassicsDramaJapanTomu Uchida

    In Twilight Saloon a cast of diverse characters spend an eventful evening in a cheap beer hall filled with music, dance, drunkenness, and self-reflection. Witty and lively, it also has a confessional quality: Uchida cast his regular prewar star Isamu Kosugi as an artist lamenting his art’s use for propagandistic purposes during the war….Read More »

  • Tomu Uchida – Koiya koi nasuna koi AKA The Mad Fox (1962)

    1961-1970AsianDramaJapanTomu Uchida

    At once reserved and utterly unhinged, Tomu Uchida’s The Mad Fox has garnered praise for its fervent theatricality and haywire visuals. But the very structure of the thing possesses a lopsided attractiveness as well and not only due to a twisty narrative that does justice to its alternative title, Love, Thy Name Be Sorrow (although a review claims it’s roughly translated as Love, Love, Don’t Play With Love). The first 25 or so minutes were taken up with what my friend Bill called cabinet meetings, some sort of medieval court power play that reminded me of the overnarrativization of The Phantom Menace (or, better, its laser-pointed parody in a hilarious episode of The Simpsons).Read More »

  • Tomu Uchida – Yôtô monogatari: hana no Yoshiwara hyakunin-giri AKA Hero of the Red Light District AKA Killing in Yoshiwara (1960)

    1951-1960AsianDramaJapanTomu Uchida

    On the surface, this may seem to be an early example of the Japanese exploitation films that would become very popular about five years later. In fact, this film occasionally feels like Seijun Suzuki’s own interpretation, if only for the technicolor cinematography and the presence of some sleazy elements. However, past the surface, this is still very much a Tomu Uchida film. His compassion towards his character and the issues they face, is handled delicately and his semi-cynical humor is as apparent as ever. Still, I’d be lying if I said this was on the same level as Uchida’s own Bloody Spear on Mount Fuji.Read More »

  • Tomu Uchida – Chiyari Fuji AKA A Bloody Spear on Mount Fuji (1955)

    1951-1960AdventureAsianJapanTomu Uchida

    Tomu Uchida’s A Bloody Spear at Mt. Fuji is the story of an unassuming samurai who is more interested in a person’s actions than his social standing. In spite of the rigid class divide that exists between himself and his servants he tends to treat them as his equals even when they themselves feel that they are inferior to him. The film features remarkable subplots that add scope and depth to the social criticism offered by the main plot. Among these is the story of a male orphan who idolizes the samurai’s spear bearer and a young woman who is sold into prostitution because her family is too poor to support her.Read More »

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