Japan

Juzo Itami

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Juzo Itami Some folks believe his suicide may have been a Yakuza hit, because they were still mad over their portrayal in Minbo no Onna (he had been attacked and slashed soon after the release of that film). The Funeral – A black comedy and funnier than most real funerals (believe me, I know). Tampopo […]

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Kon Ichikawa

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Kon Ichikawa This guy has a pantload of films under his belt. I’ve only seen the following two so far, but what a two they are (did that sound weird?). The Burmese Harp – Nominated for an Oscar a little over 10 years after WWII. These are not the Japanese soldiers we were shown in […]

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Seijun Suzuki

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Seijun Suzuki He’s got a ton of films and I can’t vouch for all of them. But he did some hip and wacky stuff in the 60’s. If you watch Suzuki’s interviews you’ll learn that the surrealist flair that permeates many of his films were out of necessity, not because he had some deep symbolism […]

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Nobuhiro Yamashita

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Nobuhiro Yamashita Linda Linda Linda – This is the kind of slice-of-life film we can’t seem to make here in the states. American independent cinema always has to have some contrived plot element; Quirky family. Gay relative. Quirky gay family relative. Handicap (mental or physical). Crime. Dwarves. A thinly veiled political statement. It can never […]

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Kenji Mizoguchi

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Kenji Mizoguchi When Americans talk about Japanese cinema, they usually only mention Kurosawa or Ozu. Just like in French cinema people talk about Truffaut or Godard, they often forget Dimitri Kirsanoff or Robert Bresson. Mizoguchi is the Japanese Bresson. He will depress you. And personally, I think he’s a better visual artist than Kurosawa.  Mizoguchi’s […]

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Yasujiro Ozu

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Yasujiro Ozu Ozu is what we call a minimalist. A pan in an Ozu film is about as exciting as you’re gonna get. But damn could he get performances out of actors. Just watching characters eat dinner tells you more about their lives than a Paddy Chayefsky diatribe (I love ya Paddy, rest in peace. […]

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Akira Kurosawa

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Akira Kurosawa Some have called him the Japanese Spielberg. How can people be so cruel? Akira sometimes suffers a backlash because of how popular the film brat generation made him (kinda like the Chaplin backlash many years ago when folks said Keaton was better. They’re both great, so shut up). Is Kurosawa the greatest Japanese […]

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Shohei Imamura

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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!) […]

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Takeshi Kitano

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Takeshi Kitano This cat is pretty cool. Look up his bio some time. He does everything. Most Americans probably only recognize him from MXC on Spike. I got into “Beat” Takeshi years ago (can’t remember how). Violent Cop – Don’t mess with his sister. Double feature it with Kindergarten Cop.           […]

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