Tampopo (1985) & A Taxing Woman / Marusa no onna (1987)

During the eighties, only a handful of new Japanese movies reached America. The two most successful were Tampopo and A Taxing Woman, both from the same writer/director, Juzo Itami, and both gentle satires on the contemporary Japanese way of life. In Tampopo, a truck driver stops in the rain to get something to eat at … Continue reading Tampopo (1985) & A Taxing Woman / Marusa no onna (1987)

The Sea and Poison / Umi to dokuyaku (1986)

Never one to shy away from uncomfortable topics, Kei Kumai adapted Shusaku Endo's 1957 novel The Sea and Poison into one of the most complex studies on film of medical ethics. The movie (sometimes graphically) describes the use of eight downed American fliers as subjects of experimental surgical techniques at Kyushu University's medical school and … Continue reading The Sea and Poison / Umi to dokuyaku (1986)

Spirit of Tattoo / Irezumi: Sekka tomuraizashi (1982)

Unrelated to the earlier Irezumi, Takabayashi’s Spirit of Tattoo is as its title suggests a meditation on the tattoo as both an art and a mystical experience. The situation is simple: Akane, now in her thirties, is the secretary and apparently long-time lover of Fujieda, a forty-ish librarian with a fetish about tattoos and women’s … Continue reading Spirit of Tattoo / Irezumi: Sekka tomuraizashi (1982)

His Motorbike, Her Island / Kare no otobai kanojo no shima (1986)

His Motorbike, Her Island accomplishes the seemingly impossible. Combining a showcase for not one but two of Kadokawa’s girl “pop idols,” the introduction of a young male to potentially join them as a teen idol, a teen-romance story line, a Japanese ghost story, and a 90-minute ad for Kawasaki, Obayashi somehow also managed to make … Continue reading His Motorbike, Her Island / Kare no otobai kanojo no shima (1986)