Shohei Imamura

April 8, 2011

Shohei Imamura

Here’s another unsung hero of Japanese cinema. This cat was still winning awards in his 70’s. Be warned that he does tend to have sex and violence in a lot of his films, so if you’re Amish don’t watch (of course if you’re Amish and reading this on a computer, Schande über Sie!)

The Pornographers –No, I didn’t buy it because I thought it would have violent tentacle porn. A little confusing, a little amusing, and a little disturbing. Yup, that’s an Imamura film. Interesting to see the taboo subject matters the Japanese were tackling over 40 years ago and where they are today. Now we have guys like Takashi Miike who seems fascinated by every disgusting thing the body produces.







Vengeance Is Mine – Starring the late, great Ken Ogata. Film students will recognize him from Paul Schrader’s Mishima (not my favorite Schrader film). This one is based on a true story. It’s kinda long, but pretty engrossing.









Ballad of Narayama – Ken Ogata returns. It won Cannes and some Japanese Academy Awards. This is the heartwarming story of a very poor village in Japan’s olden days. When the elderly reach 70 they are brought up to the mountain and left there to die (kind of a Japanese Logan’s Run (just replace 30 with 70 (or 21 if you read the book))). Did I say heartwarming? I meant tragic. There are some scenes in here that may be disturbing for our more delicate viewers, but there’s some great stuff in here.







Black Rain – No, not that horrible Ridley Scott movie with Michael Douglas. This is about Hiroshima after the bomb. Won a couple things at Cannes, and most of the big ones at the Japanese Academy Awards. Great award winning B/W photography by Takashi Kawamata (I think this was the last thing he shot). Not a feel good movie, so leave it out of the date night rotation.








The Eel – Won the Palm D’or at Cannes (tied with Kiarostami’s A Taste of Cherry) A violent beginning, and settles into a slow paced character study. May be too slow for some people, but if you can sit through Wim Wenders, you can sit through this.









Dr. Akagi – This one isn’t bad. Not my favorite, but if you’re gonna have an Imamura marathon, you should include this (stick it somewhere in the middle if you’re going out of order).

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