Tag Archives: Japan

Shiawase no kiiroi hankachi / The Yellow Handkerchief (1977) Yôji Yamada, Ken Takakura, Chieko Baishô, Kaori Momoi, Comedy, Drama

Shiawase no kiiroi hankachi (Yoji Yamada, 1977)
The story starts with Kinya, who has recently upgraded his car. He’s a young adult and he’s single so naturally he uses his ride to ahem, look for companions. He offers a ride to a shy girl by the name of Akemi and she reluctantly accepts. From the get go, sexual tension is apparent, but things get a bit easier as the two become acquainted. They pick up Yusaku, a 30-something coal miner with a reserved personality. The story slowly begins to shift from the comedic hijinks of Kinya and Akemi to Yusaku’s mental drama. He’s hiding something about his past, which he either wants to forget or is trying to remember.
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The Garden (1990) Derek Jarman, Tilda Swinton, Johnny Mills, Philip MacDonald, Drama

The Garden (Derek Jarman, 1990)
A nearly wordless visual narrative intercuts two main stories and a couple of minor ones. A woman, perhaps the Madonna, brings forth her baby to a crowd of intrusive paparazzi; she tries to flee them. Two men who are lovers marry and are arrested by the powers that be. The men are mocked and pilloried, tarred, feathered, and beaten. Loose in this contemporary world of electrical-power transmission lines is also Jesus. The elements, particularly fire and water, content with political power, which is intolerant and murderous.
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Kujira gami / The Whale God (1962) Tokuzô Tanaka, Kyôko Enami, Shiho Fujimura, Kôji Fujiyama, Drama, Fantasy

Kujira gami AKA The Whale God (1962)
Based on the award-winning story of the same title by Uno Koichiro. A demon whale is killing the fishermen of a small village year after year. The townspeople become obsessed with killing the whale, and the town’s wealthiest man offers his land, position and only daughter to the man who can kill the beast. A stranger, Kishu, steps forward and declares that he will kill the whale. A brute, he frightens the crowd. Another fisherman, Shaki, wants to kill the whale to avenge the deaths of his father and grandfather. Shaki is the popular leader of the local men.
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Robô no ishi / The Wayside Pebble (1964) Miyoji Ieki, Chikage Awashima, Shûichi Ikeda, Katsuo Nakamura, Drama

Robo no Ishi AKA The Wayside Pebble (1964)
The Wayside Pebble is an effective drama about the hardships of a childhood spent with a brusque, cold-hearted father and a submissive mother. The year is 1910 and the place is a small Japanese village. Goichi is suffering because he wants to go to school, but his family is too poor to afford that luxury. Even when a kind friend agrees to help out, Goichi’s father refuses to give in to his son’s request for an education. Instead, he sends Goichi off to work as an indentured servant for a cold-hearted merchant and his family. As tragedy strikes and the suffering of the young boy increases, he begins to look for some way out of his bleak situation.
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Bangiku / Late Chrysanthemums (1954) Mikio Naruse, Haruko Sugimura, Ken Uehara, Sadako Sawamura, Drama

Bangiku (1954)
What is the life of a Geisha like once her beauty has faded and she has retired? Kin has saved her money, and has become a wealthy money-lender, spending her days cold-heartedly collecting debts. Even her best friends, Tomi, Nobu, and Tamae, who were her fellow Geisha, are now indebted to her. For all of them, the glamor of their young lives has passed; Tomi and Tamae have children, but their children have disappointed them. Kin has two former lovers who still pursue her; one she wants to see, and the other she doesn’t. But even the one she remembers fondly, when he shows up, proves to be a disappointment.
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Bashing (2005) Masahiro Kobayashi, Fusako Urabe, Nene Ohtsuka, Takayuki Katô, Drama

Bashing (2005)
Yuko volunteered to be an aid worker in Iraq and was taken hostage there. When freed she returned to Japan, but after being home six months she is still the ongoing object of harassment from her own countrymen. A co-worker finds many angry postings on the Internet denouncing her and spreads them very vocally, causing her boss let her go. He tells her that the atmosphere at the hotel where she works as a chambermaid has changed negatively as a result. Several anonymous phones are made daily to her at home where she lives with her father and stepmother, saying that she is an embarrassment and disgrace to Japan. She is even harassed by strangers on the street after buying soup at a local convenience store, ruining her dinner. Her boyfriend dumps her, calling her actions as a volunteer in a foreign country selfish, that she should have stayed in Japan and only helped her own community. Yuko’s father supported her decision to go to the Middle East, and he defends her actions after her …
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Nemuri Kyoshiro 2: Shôbu / Sleepy Eyes of Death: Sword of Adventure (1964) Kenji Misumi, Raizô Ichikawa, Kôichi Aihara, San’emon Arashi, Drama

Nemuri Kyoshiro 2 Shobu (1964)
Wandering samurai Nemuri Kyoshiro (Raizô Ichikawa) finds a bulls-eye on his back after befriending the shogunate’s tightfisted financial adviser, Asahina, who’s earned the wrath of the shogun’s self-indulgent daughter for cutting off her allowance. The enraged princess promptly hatches a scheme to have Asahina bumped off — along with his protector, Kyoshiro.
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Akasen Chitai / Street of Shame (1956) Kenji Mizoguchi, Machiko Kyô, Aiko Mimasu, Ayako Wakao, Drama

Akasen Chitai (1956)
Five prostitutes work at Dreamland, in Tokyo’s Yoshiwara district. As the Diet considers a ban on prostitution, the women’s daily dramas play out. Each has dreams and motivations. Hanae is married, her husband unemployed; they have a young child. Yumeko, a widow, uses her earnings to raise and support her son, who’s now old enough to work and care for her. The aging Yorie has a man who wants to marry her. Yasumi saves money diligently to pay her debt and get out; she also has a suitor who wants to marry her, but she has other plans for him. Mickey seems the most devil-may-care, until her father comes from Kobe to bring her news of her family and ask her to come home.
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Bin-jip / 3-Iron (2004) Ki-duk Kim, Seung-yeon Lee, Hyun-kyoon Lee, Hyuk-ho Kwon, Crime, Drama, Romance

Bin-jip (2004)
The lonely and silent rider Tae-suk breaks in empty houses and lives a normal life while the owners are traveling. He does not steal anything and moves from house to house without any loss other than food, and he cleans the houses, provides small repairs or washes some clothes to pay for the hospitality. When he enters in the house of Sun-hwa, he does not see the woman that is wounded in her room after being beaten up on by her abusive husband Min-gyu Lee. Tae-suk helps the hurt woman and when Min-gyu returns, he hits the husband with golf balls and Sun-hwa leaves her husband with Tae-suk on his motorcycle. When they break in the house of an old man, they find that the man is dead and Tae-suk provides funeral service for him. However, his son returns and Tae-suk and Sun-hwa are arrested by two abusive police detectives. He is sent to prison and Sun-hwa is forced to return home. But she never forgets him.
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Tsuma / Wife (1953) Mikio Naruse, Mieko Takamine, Ken Uehara, Rentarô Mikuni, Drama

Tsuma (1953)
Tokyo. Mihoko and Toichi Nakagawa’s ten year marriage is crumbling out of inertia. Each knows the other isn’t happy, they themselves aren’t happy, but they don’t talk about their problems with each other, each festering in their unhappiness largely so that they will not show especially to their three boarders their problems. Mihiko in particular, old fashioned in her outlook, does not see divorce as an option, that move which would be a stigma she could not tolerate. Both are seemingly oblivious to the fact that others around them are facing similar if not worse situations, and that they themselves are largely the cause of their unhappiness. Things for their marriage get worse when Toichi starts to fall for his work colleague, widowed Fusako Sagara, who returns his affections.
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