Tag Archives: Japan

Aisai monogatari / Story of a Beloved Wife (1951) Kaneto Shindô, Nobuko Otowa, Jûkichi Uno, Ichirô Sugai, Drama, Romance

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Shindo’s directorial debut is the fictionalized account of the death of his first wife. Following the breakout of the Pacific War, the Japanese film industry was forcibly downsized. Numazaki, a mediocre screenwriter, faces imminent dismissal. His wife Takako encourages him to seek work in Kyoto. Numazaki fails his aptitude test, which is to write a script for the famous but demanding director Sakaguchi (a veiled reference for Kenji Mizoguchi). Takako offers to support his husband for a year, so that he can hone his craft from scratch.
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Watashi no guranpa / My Grandpa (2003) Yôichi Higashi, Bunta Sugawara, Satomi Ishihara, Tadanobu Asano, Comedy, Drama

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Yoichi Higashi’s Watashi No Gurampa (My Granpa) concerns the relationship between ex-convict Kenzo (Bunta Sugawara) and his 14-year-old granddaughter Tamako (Satomi Ishihara). Kenzo was behind bars for killing a gangster. Upon his release, he goes to live with his son (Mitsuru Hirata), whose marriage is on the rocks. Already a loner, Tamako is ostracized further when it is discovered that her grandfather is a murderer. Kenzo soon helps defend Tamako from bullies at school. When Tamako stands up for herself, she comes to believe that she has inherited some of her grandfather’s great strength. Eventually, an associate of the man Kenzo killed comes looking for revenge, along with the dead man’s son.
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Dobu / Ditch (1954) Kaneto Shindô, Nobuko Otowa, Taiji Tonoyama, Jûkichi Uno, Drama

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Toku, a factory worker (Taiji Tonoyama) gives food to a starving woman, Tsuru (Nobuko Otowa), who then follows him home. He shares a shack in a shanty village in Kawasaki with his friend Pin-chan (Jukichi Uno). The two men try to get rid of her but then let her stay when she gives them money. Tsuru tells the people of the village that she lost her job due to a strike, then was robbed of her severance pay, then sold to a brothel in Tsuchiura. She ran away with a friend from Kawasaki. Toku and Pin-chan sell her to a geisha house and spend the money. She is thrown out. The owner demands his money back. Tsuru earns the money to pay their debt by working as a prostitute outside the station. The other prostitutes beat her. She fends them off with a policeman’s revolver and is then shot dead by the police.
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Innocence (2004) Lucile Hadzihalilovic, Zoé Auclair, Lea Bridarolli, Bérangère Haubruge, Drama, Mystery

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Prepare yourself to be either infuriated or fascinated by this French film. There’s no in-between reaction available here.When people talk about seeing a really weird film where nothing happened and the end didn’t make any sense, this is the film they’re probably talking about. I’d call it fascinating, but I’m well aware that I’m probably in the minority.
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Ukikusa / Floating Weeds (1959) Yasujirô Ozu, Ganjirô Nakamura, Machiko Kyô, Haruko Sugimura, Drama

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A troupe of travelling players arrive at a small seaport in the south of Japan. Komajuro Arashi, the aging master of the troupe, goes to visit his old flame Oyoshi and their son Kiyoshi, even though Kiyoshi believes Komajuro is his uncle. The leading actress Sumiko is jealous and so, in order to humiliate the master, persuades the younger actress Kayo to seduce Kiyoshi.
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Underworld Beauty (1958) Seijun Suzuki, Michitarô Mizushima, Mari Shiraki, Shinsuke Ashida, Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

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The moment he’s released from prison, the honorable gangster Miyamoto recovers the stolen diamonds he had stashed before getting pinched. When he returns to his haunt to make good by friend who took a bullet for him, he is diverted by the greedy boss Oyane and his insatiable taste for Miyamoto’s precious stones. Replete with film noir style, “Underworld Beauty” is one of Suzuki’s best nods to the American gangster genre.
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Rabu sutori o kimini / Memories of You (1988) Shin’ichirô Sawai, Kumiko Goto, Tôru Nakamura, Tomomi Satô, Drama, Romance

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University student Akira meets the lovely 14-year-old Yumi, whom he had tutored years ago. Her mother is told by her doctor that the schoolgirl has leukaemia and has only 6 months to live. So the mother entreats Akira to be her special friend. Yumi’s condition remains stable for a while, but on the day that Akira leaves for Nagano for his teacher training, she suddently falls ill in school and then goes to a friend’s villa in the resort town of Karuzawa to recuperate. She is able to visit Akira from time to time, and this eases her fear and suffering. But when summer is over, Yumi’s condition deteriorates, and finally Akira takes her to Mount Hodaka where, as she falls into her final delirium, they express their deep love for each other.
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Kaze ni tatsu raion / The Lion Standing in the Wind (2015) Takashi Miike, Ayako Fujitani, Satomi Ishihara, Ryôhei Suzuki, Drama

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Jack-of-all-trades director Miike Takashi takes on more serious material in the human drama The Lion Standing in the Wind about the experiences of a Japanese doctor in Africa. Featuring location shooting in Kenya, the film is based on Sada Masashi’s novel and song Kaze ni Tatsu Lion, which were inspired by the true story of a Japanese doctor who operated a mobile clinic in the African nation.
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