Tag Archives: Japanese

Yuki Kawamura – Grandmother (2010)

The grandmother of filmmaker Yuki Kawamura dies after spending fifty days in a coma; with the whole family we accompany her through this journey.

Grandmother death is an opportunity for each and everyone to reflect upon mourning, and beyond that, upon life, its multiple forms, its disappearance as well as its inexhaustible resources, and the signs of its infinite diversity. Life’s beauty is in water, mist and foam, in lichens and trees, in this grandmother’s dying face, and in her family’s care, affection and joking, in her children’s every word, every breath. Read More »

Sion Sono – Utsushimi [Extended Edition] (2000)

This faux-documentary follows a butoh master, a fashion designer, and a filmmaker racing against time to create art and help a young girl in love. Read More »

Mikio Naruse – Onna no za AKA A Woman’s Place (1962)

A Women’s Place follows the daily lives of the Ishikawa family who own a general goods store in Tokyo. The film’s opening sees the Ishikawa children rush to the bedside of their father after hearing that he collapsed. As all is well, they go on with their hurried lives. A mystery son later appears out of nowhere to upend the family order and stability. Read More »

Kajirô Yamamoto – Enoken no chakkiri kinta AKA Enoken’s Kinta the Pickpocket (1937)

A famous sound film comedy by Kajira Yamamoto, best known for being the mentor of Akira Kurosawa. This is actually considered a major classic of physical comedy in Japan and remains perhaps the most fondly remembered vehicle for the famous comedian Enoken, who was a major star during the pre-war period.

A comedic tale told in four parts, this film follows the antics of the pickpocket Kinta as he is pursued by a low ranking deputy named Kurakichi. The two get into all manner of peccadilloes and encounter a range of peculiar characters as their game of cat and mouse moves across the countryside in the last days of the Tokugawa Shogunate. The title role is played by Enomoto Kenichi (known by his performance name Enoken), a star of screen and stage. Kinta the Pickpocket showcases his indefatigable energy and talent for physical comedy. Read More »

Akira Kurosawa – Kumonosu-jô AKA Throne of Blood (1957)

A vivid, visceral Macbeth adaptation, Throne of Blood, directed by Akira Kurosawa, sets Shakespeare’s definitive tale of ambition and duplicity in a ghostly, fog-enshrouded landscape in feudal Japan. As a hardened warrior who rises savagely to power, Toshiro Mifune gives a remarkable, animalistic performance, as does Isuzu Yamada as his ruthless wife. Throne of Blood fuses classical Western tragedy with formal elements taken from Noh theater to create an unforgettable cinematic experience. Read More »

Taizô Fuyushima – Kagoya hangan AKA The Palanquin Carrier Magistrate (1935)

Two cowardly palanquin carriers know the culprit of a murder but are too scared to report it to the police. In the mean time, an innocent man is arrested as the murderer and chaos ensues. Read More »

Kajirô Yamamoto – Wagahai wa neko de aru AKA I am a Cat (1936)

It’s the first film adaptation of Natsumi Soseki’s novel “I Am a Cat”, but I was a little disappointed when I saw it with high expectations, because it’s less than 90 minutes long and there’s no monologue about the cat, so it’s just me in the middle of the human drama. Before that, there are only a few scenes in which I appear.

The world situation at the time of the Russo-Japanese War has been replaced by that of World War I (the attack on Qingdao is shown in a newspaper article. However, since it was filmed before the war, the scenery has a certain feel to it. This atmosphere is something you can’t get in a postwar film. Read More »