Tag Archives: Ayako Wakao

Kon Ichikawa – Anata to watashi no aikotoba: Sayônara, konnichiwa AKA Goodbye, Hello (1959)

There is little to nothing written in English about this film, and in fact of the entire Cinemateque Ontario Ichikawa Kon tome the only mention of Goodbye, Hello was in the extensive filmography. This was one of the films Ichikawa made for Daiei that he co-wrote with his wife Wado Natto, the pair being one of world cinema’s great husband and wife collaborations. Ichikawa worked with the cinematographer for Goodbye, Hello, Kobayashi Setsuo, on some of his best looking films: Ten Dark Women, Fires on the Plain, and An Actor’s Revenge. Actress Kyo Machiko was certainly a familiar face in Ichikawa’s films, starring in Odd Obsession and The Pit. Judging by cast and crew alone, this looks like prime Ichikawa, and I personally find this period of his filmmaking (late 50s, early 60s) the most interesting. Read More »

Yasuzô Masumura – Nise daigakusei AKA A False Student (1960)

This is one of my very favorite films. I was lucky enough to see a 35 print of it at a Masumura retrospective. A near perfect pitch black comedy, the flick also has some very compelling material regarding activism (a potent topic for the student movement the film is based on). Masumura’s like the Japanese Sam Fuller, but then again, I think this film is better than any of the Fullers I’ve seen. Read More »

Yasuzô Masumura – Tsuma futari AKA Two Wives (1967)

After a random encounter at a bar, two couples collide. Two men, two women, embroiled in a love-and-hate drama that threatens to engulf them. The sexual anxiety between the interwoven couples tautens right up to the nearly unbearable tension of the climax, in this rare masterpiece by the director of Manji and Blind Beast. Read More »

Kon Ichikawa – Nihonbashi AKA Bridge of Japan (1956) (HD)

Ichikawa’s 1956 adaptation of Nihonbashi was the first to take the work of Kyoka Izumi— until then regarded as a writer of common tragic melodramas—and re-evaluate it as a sanbi-ha work of decadence, aestheticism, and intrigue. Ichikawa’s film presents the tragic plot of the young geisha who is unable to enact her love for a man publicly in any way other than a histrionic story of torment, a heart-rending tale of lovers being crushed by fate. Instead Ichikawa shows the contest of wills that transpires as two geisha, Oko (Chikage Awashima) and Kiyoha (Fujiko Yamamoto) fight for the top spot in Nihonbashi, the pinnacle ot the Tokyo geisha world. Nihonbashi is an elegant, if steely, exposition of manners. The young doctor, Shinzo Katsuragi (Ryuji Shinagawa), is the object of affection for both women, but appears to be more the choice reward for the plotting and thieving of these two early modern superwomen, than a lover they swoon over. Read More »

Kenji Misumi – Nyokei kazoku AKA The Third Will (1963)

Misumi directs an adaptation of a famous novel written by Yamasaki Toyoko, writer whose works were adapted numerous times for TV (Shiroi Kyotō is a sort of cult here in Japan) and for the big screen.
Kyō Machiko, Wakao Ayako and Takada Miwa star in a story about a wealthy family and the greed and selfishness of his three daughters, and relatives, after the passing of their old father. The movie casts a dim light on family relationships and money, where the only ray of hope seems to come from the younger generations.
Cinematography, music and editing are top-notch, the manner in which Misumi and his editor cut from one scene to the following in many passages of the film is really mesmerizing. Read More »

Yûzô Kawashima – Gan no tera AKA The Temple of Wild Geese (1962)

Satoko is a mistress by trade, or fate: when her master, the silkscreen artist of the Kohoan Temple in Kyoto, dies, she is given to the temple’s lascivious head priest Kikuchi. She is drawn to a melancholy young acolyte, Jinen, who has observed the profligacy of his cruel master and Satoko’s utter dependence on the man. Jinen is both fascinated and disturbed by Satoko’s interest in him; he is similarly caught between loathing of Kikuchi and of the dark circumstances of his birth and his own moral weakness. The story unfolds in a dreamlike manner, a flashback inspired by a now-infamous image on a silkscreen in the souvenir shop at the so-called Temple of the Wild Geese. Read More »

Kon Ichikawa – Yukinojô henge AKA An Actor’s Revenge [+Extras] (1963)

Master Director Kon Ichikawa’s 1963 classic is considered by many to be one of the finest films ever made in Japan.Kasuo Hasegawa stars as Yukinojo, a talented kabuki actor who specializes in playing female roles (women were not allowed on the stage during the period of the film). But his success on the stage is but a means to an end; his true goal is to visit vengeance upon the three ruthless and powerful men who destroyed his family’s business and drove his parents to commit suicide.Yukinojo’s vengeance will be carefully scripted, and skillfully acted. But the price of admission will be high indeed. Read More »