Tag Archives: Keiju Kobayashi

Eizo Sugawa – Kemonomichi aka Beast Alley (1965)

Review from The Montreal Gazette – Jan 10, 1970
BEAST ALLEY – directed by Eizo Sugawa; original Japanese version with English subtitles; at the Art Cinema

The only real beast in Beast Alley is a black and white Great Dane, who is incidental to the plot. There are, however, a lot of humans who behave in a rather beastly manner.

There’s a frustrated wife who burns her decrepit husband; an evil old man who preys on unhappy young women; a sinister villain who plays with gasoline and matches; and a host of unscrupulous, corrupt politicians and police detectives. Read More »

Kihachi Okamoto – Eburi manshi no yûga-na seikatsu AKA The Elegant Life Of Mr. Everyman (1963)

Eburi is a 36 year-old man. Nothing enthuses him any more. While being drunk, he promises to contribute a story to a magazine. When he sobers down, he decides to write about the life of a salaried employee like himself who is very ordinary, not particularly talented.
The following is his story:
In 1949, Eburi gets married to Natsuko. His monthly salary is 8,000 yen and hers 4,000 yen. Therefore, both have to work to support themselves. Eburi has developed a habituIl tendency to pester around when he gets drunk. One year after their marriage, son Shosuke is born. In 1959, Eburi’s mother dies in despair of her husband who has become listless due to the several ups and downs of gaining big profits and going bankrupt. His father is still alive and Eburi is enable to find a way to pay his father’s debts. Read More »

Kihachi Okamoto – Samurai aka Samurai Assassin (1965)

February 17 to March 3, 1860, inside Edo castle. A group of assassins wait by Sakurada Gate to kill the lord of the House of Ii, a powerful man in the Tokugawa government, which has ruled Japan for 300 years. They suspect a traitor in their midst, and their suspicions fall on Niiro, an impoverished ronin who dreams of samurai status, and Kurihara, an aristocratic samurai who befriends Niiro. Niiro longs to identify his father, knowing he is a high-ranking official who will disclose himself only if Niiro achieves samurai status. With American ships in Japan’s harbors, cynicism among the assassins, and change in the air, Niiro resolves to reach ends that may prove ephemeral. Read More »

Zenzô Matsuyama – Namonaku mazushiku utsukushiku AKA Happiness of Us Alone (1961)

The story is of two people. One is deaf, the other deaf and dumb. They marry after meeting at a school reunion, and the film follows their trials and tribulations … and joys.

The directorial debut of longtime screenwriter and frequent Masaki Kobayashi collaborator Zenzo Matsuyama. Read More »

Mikio Naruse – Onna no naka ni iru tanin AKA The Stranger Within a Woman (1966)

Tashiro (Keiju Kobayashi) coincidentally meets his best friend Sugimoto (Tatsuya Mihashi) in a bar very close to the apartment in which Sugimoto’s wayward wife is found dead. Although Tashiro is not a suspect in the police investigation, he is racked with guilt and confesses to his wife, Masako (Michiyo Aratama). In an effort to further relieve his tortured sense of guilt, he then confesses to Sugimoto. Neither his wife nor his friend can believe that he could have been involved. Read More »

Zenzo Matsuyama – Na mo naku mazushiku utsukushiku aka Happiness of Us Alone (1961)

The directorial debut of longtime screenwriter and frequent Masaki Kobayashi
collaborator Zenzo Matsuyama, Happiness of Us Alone is a tour de force of humanist
cinema that stands as a landmark of the changing attitudes towards people with
disabilities in Japan. A sympathetic portrayal of the suffering of a deaf couple (played by
Matsuyama’s own wife, Hideko Takamine, and frequent co-star Keiju Kobayashi) at the
hands of a shell shocked postwar society that treats them like wayward children to be
at turns pitied or exploited, the film prefigures the wave of activist documentaries of the
1970s exploring mistreatment of the disabled by such filmmakers as Kazuo Hara, Noriaki
Tsuchimoto and Mariko Miyagi. Amidst a culture that traditionally sought to hide those
with disabilities from public view, Happiness of Us Alone charts the often disastrous
consequences of attempting to live an independent life in a society that isn’t yet prepared
to accommodate those who are different. Read More »

Mikio Naruse – Tsuma no kokoro aka A Wife’s Heart (1956)


The best moments of A Wife’s Heart involve things not said or seen and this is most explicit in the interactions between Kiyoko (Hideko Takamine) and her bank clerk bachelor confidant Kenkichi (Toshiro Mifune). Kiyoko, along with her husband Shinji (Keiju Kobayashi), wants to open a coffee shop and so goes to Kenkichi to ask for a loan. Director Mikio Naruse never focuses on the duo’s talk of money; as filmed, their entire relationship is a series of beginnings and endings with the middles cut out. It is at first purely a business association, though after Shinji (at the manipulative behest of his matchmaker mother) gives a majority of the loan to his deadbeat brother Zenichi, Kiyoko starts to think that her feelings for Kenkichi may be more then platonic. Following through on his setup, Naruse never lets either character nakedly confess their heart’s desire. The closest they come is during a sequence, set against the backdrop of a torrential downpour, where Kenkichi utters the first few words of a thought that he will never finish. In other hands this scene might have played as masochistic repression, but Naruse allows the rainstorm to act as an expressive emotional outlet—nature thus concludes what Kenkichi cannot. Read More »