Tag Archives: Japan
Ashita e no yuigon / Best Wishes for Tomorrow (2007) Takashi Koizumi, Makoto Fujita, Robert Lesser, Fred Spiker, Drama
Amida-do dayori / Letter from the Mountain (2002) Takashi Koizumi, Akira Terao, Kanako Higuchi, Shoji Arano, Drama
As the film begins, Takao (Akira Terao) and Michiko (Kanako Higuchi) have already pulled up their Tokyo roots and moved to a village that is Takao’s ancestral home. They visit a thatched cottage that serves as a memorial shrine (amidado) for the village dead and chat with the attendant, the spry 96-year-old Oume (Tanie Kitabayashi). Together they admire the view — from an inspiring distance. Oume, it turns out, is a kind of sage, whose thoughts and observations are a popular feature in a column in a local newsletter. Her amanuensis is a mute, sweetly smiling young woman named Sayuri (Manami Konishi), who is as devoted to Oume as Oume is to the souls of her beloved dead.
Musashino fujin / The Lady of Musashino (1951) Kenji Mizoguchi, Kinuyo Tanaka, Yukiko Todoroki, Masayuki Mori, Drama
Set in post-war Japan, The Lady of Musashino tells the story of Michiko, a disillusioned young woman trapped in a loveless marriage. She confides in her younger cousin, Tsutomo, and the two become close, but decide not to consummate their affair. He instead becomes involved with the flirtatious Tomiko, who is also conducting an affair with Michiko’s husband. When Michiko finds that her husband has abandoned her, she decides to take her fate into her own hands.
Ongaku / The Music (1972) Yasuzô Masumura, Noriko Kurosawa, Toshiyuki Hosokawa, Chôei Takahashi, Drama
In this Derek Jarman version of Christopher Marlowe’s Elisabethan drama, in modern costumes and settings, Plantagenet king Edward II hands the power-craving nobility the perfect excuse by taking as lover besides his diplomatic wife, the French princess Isabel, not an acceptable lady at court but the ambitious Piers Gaveston, who uses his favor in bed even to wield political influence – the stage is set for a palace revolt which sends the gay pair from the throne to a terminal torture dungeon.
Kodomo no shiki / Four Seasons of Children (1939) Hiroshi Shimizu, Teruo Furuya, Masao Hayama, Shin’ichi Himori, Drama
A follow-up to Children in the Wind, Four Seasons of Children is also based on a Tsubota Joji novel. The film is divided into two chapters, following the young protagonists’ minor adventures and real-world awakenings over spring and summer, then autumn and winter.
The young houseboy in Uta wakes up every night to patrol the house of a teacher with a flashlight. He leads an austere life of meditation and he focuses his devotional attention on writing inscriptions for tombstones.
Chi-zome no daimon / Bloodstained Clan Honor (1970) Kinji Fukasaku, Bunta Sugawara, Tatsuo Umemiya, Kôji Tsuruta, Action, Crime
It takes place in the sunset days of the yakuza in the 1970s. The postwar turmoil that created the black market and lubricated illegal business opportunities was giving way to Japan Inc. A young Bunta Sugawara takes over as the oyabun of a crime syndicate in Yokohama, where he is struggling to keep operations at the port there alive. As his syndicate is eroding quickly, a major heavy industries company offers his gang the chance to chase some vagrants out of a shantytown where they are squatting on land where a factory is to be built. The job would secure steady profits for Bunta’s crime ring for years to come. However, Bunta and other members of his outfit grew up in the shanty, and they would be muscling their friends and neighbors. This sets the stage for an internal struggle that complicates the violent struggle with a rival mafia organization in Tokyo.
Members of a cult, modeled on Aum Shinrikyo, sabotage a city’s water supply, then commit mass suicide near the shores of a lake. Family members of the perpetrators meet at the lake to observe the anniversary of their loved ones’ deaths.