Japanese Cinema

Retribution, 2006

Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s brooding, atmospheric, surreal, and sufficiently creepy, but woefully underformed and uncharacteristically messy horror film, Retribution unfolds with the formulaic familiarity of a haphazardly (and irregularly) sutured career retrospective digest. A rumpled and overworked detective, Yoshioka (Kôji Yakusho) and his partner Miyaji (Tsuyoshi Ihara) are called in to investigate the apparent murder by drowning… read more »

Séance, 2000

An unidentified widow (Hikari Ishida) sits in the kitchen of the Sato home bearing a keepsake from her late husband in the desperate hope that her psychic medium, Junko (Jun Fubuki) can somehow connect her to him and help resolve her own conflicted emotions on the prospect of marrying another man. Soft-spoken, deliberative, and perhaps… read more »

Bright Future, 2003

An aimless, twenty-something man, Yuji Nimura (Joe Odagiri), bides his idle time at a local video arcade as he reflects off-camera in a solemn voice of recurring visions for a bright future that once filled his unconscious hours of sleep until recently when, suddenly and inexplicably, the pleasant dreams ceased. Volatile and asocial (where the… read more »

Pulse, 2001

A solitary young woman stands on the deck of a near empty ship, staring out into the ominous sea, and solemnly recounts a seemingly ordinary day in a Tokyo botanical nursery when a young man named Taguchi (Kenji Mizuhashi) failed to return to the office after working from home on a software project. Concerned about… read more »

Charisma, 1999

Charisma opens to an apparently familiar pattern of an overworked, rumpled, and unfocused officer named Goro Yabuike (Koji Yakusho) napping on an empty bench at police headquarters and being awakened by a superior officer to discuss the progress of his arrest case. One day, he is called to an abandoned house in the countryside in… read more »

Cure, 1997

An unassuming man in a plaid sport coat walks with a confident gait through the streets and removes a section of pipe from an exposed water line in a tunnel. The scene cuts to a shot of the same man calmly pacing the floor of an anonymous hotel room with a drink in hand before… read more »

Ran, 1985

Hidetora Ichimonji (Tatsuya Nakadai) has lived a long and prosperous life of a feudal warlord, his reign marked by devastating territorial battles, humiliation of the vanquished, and brutal punishment of those who flout his authority. One day, in the presence of neighboring feudal lords and attendants, he announces his decision to step down from power… read more »

Dersu Uzala, 1974

Given the expanse of the Siberian wilderness as his cinematic canvas, Akira Kurosawa responds with the visually hypnotic, deeply affecting portrait of nature, friendship, and survival in Dersu Uzala. Based on the journals of Russian explorer Vladimir Arseniev, the film opens to a forest that is being cleared for development, and Arseniev searching for an… read more »

High and Low, 1963

High and Low never wavers under the assured direction of Akira Kurosawa. It is, all at once: a procedural crime story, a social commentary on the casualties of industrialization, the redemption of a man’s soul. A wealthy executive, Gondo (Toshiro Mifune), hosts an informal board meeting in his insular residence atop a hill, overlooking the… read more »

Seven Samurai, 1954

In 16th century Japan, protracted feudal wars have created a prevailing sense of lawlessness. Bandits have organized into formidable armies that scavenge the countryside in search of villages to loot. One morning, a band of thieves arrive at the outskirts of a farming community, but is persuaded to delay their attack until the barley has… read more »