Battle Anthem / Nihonkai daikaisen: Umi yukaba (1983)

Battle Anthem gives Toshiro Mifune another opportunity to win the Battle of the Sea of Japan, but a lot has changed in Japanese movie-making and in the society as a whole since he first did so in 1969. Though Mifune reprises his role as Admiral Togo, the story of the battle now is told from … Continue reading Battle Anthem / Nihonkai daikaisen: Umi yukaba (1983)

Woman in the Mist / Oboroyo no onna (1936)

Just before he came down with TB before the war, Gosho began a turn away from his popular shomin-geki with three more melodramatic movies. Woman in the Mist is the most frustrating of these three movies, even though it seems the most complete, for it takes us into the confusing world of the Japanese mistress. … Continue reading Woman in the Mist / Oboroyo no onna (1936)

Angel Guts: Red Classroom / Tenshi no harawata: Akai kyôshitsu (1979)

One of the most highly regarded pinku films, Angel Guts: Red Classroom takes us into the complex world where exploitation and empathy are difficult to distinguish.* At one level, it is a story of a woman whose life is destroyed by a rape; on another, it is the story of a pornographer who loses his … Continue reading Angel Guts: Red Classroom / Tenshi no harawata: Akai kyôshitsu (1979)

Scarred Life / Scratched Faces / Life’s Bloody Wounds / Kizu darake no jinsei (1971)

There are so many yakuza movies, and the story lines are so often repetitive, that they tend to be distinguished primarily by the level of violence in their presentation. Scarred Life certainly culminates in a spectacularly bloody and extended fight, but it stands out not for the fight but for the sincerity and variety of … Continue reading Scarred Life / Scratched Faces / Life’s Bloody Wounds / Kizu darake no jinsei (1971)