Japanese Cinema

Japanese Film Directors by Audie Bock

Audie Bock presents a collection of perceptive, knowledgeable, and comprehensive critical essays on the most influential and distinctive filmmakers of Japan in Japanese Film Directors. Bock chronologically explores the personal influences and cinematic contributions of several acclaimed film directors, and in the process, provides an intelligent observation on the profound effects of changing political, social,… read more »

Forest of Pressure: Ogawa Shinsuke and Postwar Japanese Documentary by Abé Mark Nornes

By examining the evolution of postwar Japanese documentaries – and in particular, the singular output of the Ogawa Pro film collective under the leadership of the charismatic, if autocratic and impractical filmmaker Ogawa Shinsuke – Abé Mark Nornes’s book, Forest of Pressure: Ogawa Shinsuke and Postwar Japanese Documentary aligns closer to a socio-ethnographic study of… read more »

Air Doll, 2009

During a poignant encounter in Hirokazu Kore-eda’s idiosyncratic, yet droll and resonant contemporary fable, Air Doll, a reclusive doll maker, Sonoda (Jô Odagiri) tells a troubled inflatable doll turned video store clerk, Nozomi (Du-na Bae) that the main difference between her and a human being is biodegradability. In a way, Sonoda’s simplified differentiation between burnable… read more »

Woman of the Mist, 1936

In the essay Woman of the Mist and Gosho and the 1930s from the book Reframing Japanese Cinema: Authorship, Genre, History, Arthur Nolletti examines the complex narrative and visual strategies employed by Heinosuke Gosho that culminate in what would become one of his most accomplished works. Perhaps the most indicative of this style is his… read more »

The Neighbor’s Wife and Mine, 1931

Heinosuke Gosho’s The Neighbor’s Wife and Mine is a breezy and effervescent slice-of-life comedy on a harried – and easily distracted – freelance writer (Atsushi Watanabe) whose deadline for a commission work to write a play for a theater company in Tokyo is quickly approaching. Scouting for a suitable retreat where he can complete his… read more »

A Man Vanishes, 1967

Converging towards Kobo Abe’s experimental fiction in its fragmented examination of the strange phenomenon of johatsu – the unexplained (and presumably self-initiated) disappearances of otherwise seemingly responsible and professional salarymen in metropolitan Tokyo – as a broader social symptom of the anonymization and erasure of identity inherent in urbanization and rigid cultural conformity (most notably,… read more »

Intentions of Murder, 1964

Anticipating Nagisa Oshima’s Ceremony in its metaphoric representation of the dying of the samurai class through contaminated bloodlines, mystical connections, incestuous relationships, frailty, and impotence, Intentions of Murder bears the characteristic imprint of Shohei Imamura’s recurring preoccupations: the sensuality and resilience of women, the manifestation of individualism in a codified society, the idiosyncrasies and primitive… read more »

Black Rain, 1989

On the morning of August 6, 1945, a young woman named Yasuko (Yoshiko Tanaka) catches a ride with a neighbor who is evacuating from Hiroshima in order to transport her family’s formal clothes and sentimental possessions to a friend’s home for safekeeping on a nearby island in Furué. At 8:15, during a tea ceremony, Yasuko… read more »

The Ballad of Narayama, 1982

The Ballad of Narayama opens to an aerial shot of a vast, frozen wilderness on a remote mountainous region in Northern Japan at an inexact date of a hundred years ago. Along the base of the mountain is an isolated, snow covered feudal village, where a family matriarch Orin (Sumiko Sakamoto) lives with her widowed… read more »

Vengeance Is Mine, 1979

On January 4, 1964, a convoy of patrol cars traverse a provincial countryside to escort captured criminal Iwao Enokizu (Ken Ogata) to the local police precinct for interrogation. Callous and unremorseful, Enokizu laments his inevitable fate as unfair, citing that his arresting officers will outlive him and continue the pursuit of hedonistic pleasure now denied… read more »

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