Yasuzo Masumura

Yasuzo Masumura – Blind Beast AKA Môjuu (1969)

Blind Beast is a grotesque portrait of the bizarre relationship between a blind sculptor and his captive muse, adapted from a short story from Japan’s foremost master of the macabre, Edogawa Rampo (Horrors of Malformed Men, The Black Lizard, Caterpillar). Read More »

Yasuzo Masumura – Sekkusu chekku: Daini no sei aka The Sex Check (1968)

Quote:
Ogata’s first leading role was in Masumura’s Sex Check — the Second Sex (1968). Here, Ogata plays Shiro Miyagi, a sprinter with Olympic aspirations whose dreams were shattered by WWII. A broken man, he leads the dissolute life of a gigolo until a chance meeting with a fiery young athlete named Hiroko (Michiyo Yasuda, who also plays Naomi in A Fool’s Love). Realizing that she has talent as a sprinter, Miyagi sees a second chance at Olympic glory in becoming her coach. Following Miyagi’s unconventional, military-style training, Hiroko sets a record for the 100-meter dash, but her greatest hurdle proves to be a “sex check” which all professional athletes must pass. The Second Sex shows the love-hate relationship between athlete and coach as a means to explore a hypothesis about gender, androgyny, and human potential. This is, simply put, an unclassifiable film. Read More »

Yasuzo Masumura – Sonezaki Shinju AKA Double Suicide of Sonezaki (1978)

From All Movie Guide:
“Suicide has long been used as a form of social protest in Japan. In this film, set in 1703, samurai culture is being transformed by the emergence of a new merchant class. Elements of the social contract are beginning to unravel, and some unscrupulous people took undue advantage of these changes before the social order was re-created. In this story, a rich merchant gives his clerk an I.O.U. instead of wages. When the impoverished clerk presents the paper to the merchant at the agreed upon time asking for payment, the man flies into a rage and pretends he never wrote it and claims the clerk is trying to defraud him. Then he sets his henchmen on the clerk to administer a beating. Though similar in story and period, this is a different film from the 1969 Double Suicide by director Masahiro Shinoda.” Read More »

Yasuzo Masumura – Akumyo: shima arashi AKA Bad Reputation: Notorious Dragon (1974)

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Set in 1937, this is the story of Asakichi, who is played by Shiuntaro Katsu, best known as being Zatoichi in 26 films. Asakichi has been disowned by his father for gambling, so he heads off to make his living in cockfighting. He, in quick order, wins some money, takes up with a fallen geisha and quickly comes in conflict with the yakuza. Besting their top man, Asakichi, is drawn into the life of a yakuza despite his efforts to remain outside of it. Read More »

Yasuzô Masumura – Rikugun Nakano gakko AKA Nakano Spy School (1966)

How a young second lieutenant becomes your basic Bond is the subject of this spy-vs.-spy noir set in 1938 at the start of the Sino-Japanese War. Jiro (Raizo Ichikawa) leaves his fiancée for a mysterious military assignment — he and a few good men are to be trained as special agents at the newly established Nakano Spy School, based on the British model. (The girlfriend, meanwhile, becomes involved in the machinations of the British themselves.) A True Fiction-style narrative offers both lessons in spying (bring your notepad, and a sense of humor) and the lessons of spying: for all its worldly ideals, and even without uniforms, the Spy School is a microcosm of a closed society. Read More »

Yasuzô Masumura – Kono ko no nanatsu no oiwai ni AKA For My Daughter’s 7th Birthday (1982)

The film is Yasuzo Masumura’s last feature film, based on Mio Saito’s novel which wons him a Seishi Yokomizo Award, shot by Setsuo Kobayashi, principle cinematographers of such Kon Ichikawa & Yasuzo Masumura classics as Fires on the Plain, An Actor’s Revenge, Being Two Isn’t Easy, Ten Dark Women, A Wife Confesses, Red Angel, Blind Beast, Manji, Black Express… (Indeed I think he’s responsible for the look (for example, the tight framing & deep focus) of these films). The film also boasts a fabulous cast, including Tetsuro Tamba, who seems uncredited. Read More »

Yasuzô Masumura – Danryu AKA Warm Current [+Extra] (1957)

Remake of Yoshimura Kozaburo’s 1939 film of the same title, originally adapted from a novel by Kishida Kunio. Together with scenarist Shirasaka Yoshio, Masumura re-imagines a traditional melodrama as a fast-paced comedy of manners. Includes a cameo appearance by the singer Miwa Akihiro.

The story revolves around a young man appointed to rescue a troubled hospital, and who must choose between two women, a dedicated nurse or a spoiled rich girl. Read More »