Circus Boys / Nijisseiki shônen dokuhon (1989)

The Art Theater Guild had ceased production and distribution in 1986, but its spirit lived on, most notably in the films of Kaizo Hayashi. In a sense, Hayashi was the first Japanese writer/director who fell in love with movies themselves rather than with making movies, which led eventually to his three movies about Maiku Hama, … Continue reading Circus Boys / Nijisseiki shônen dokuhon (1989)

The Love and Adventures of Kuroki Taro / Kuroki Taro to ai no boken (1977)

Kuroki Taro is a stuntman, something of a rarity in Japanese movies.* However, we only see him do one kind of stunt, car races and wrecks, at the very beginning of the movie. The “Love and Adventures” all occur far from the movie set. Juichi and his two buddies are introduced to us on a … Continue reading The Love and Adventures of Kuroki Taro / Kuroki Taro to ai no boken (1977)

Living Koheiji / Koheiji is Alive / Kaidan: Ikiteiru Koheiji (1982)

After more than a decade of silence, Nobuo Nakagawa, the Grand Old Man of Japanese horror movies, re-surfaced in 1982 at ATG. The result, The Living Koheiji, is a cryptic and hypnotic ghost story that is short on shock value but full of visual, verbal, and character complexity far more fascinating than his more famous … Continue reading Living Koheiji / Koheiji is Alive / Kaidan: Ikiteiru Koheiji (1982)

At This Late Date, the Charleston / Chikagoro naze ka Charusuton (1981)

Even by the eighties, the war had not faded from Japanese consciousness and there was still a great deal of survivor’s guilt, which Okamoto manages to turn into the often hilarious At This Late Date, the Charleston. After an attempted rape, Jiro, the second son of a wealthy family, is thrown into a jail cell … Continue reading At This Late Date, the Charleston / Chikagoro naze ka Charusuton (1981)

Double Suicide at Sonezaki / Sonezaki shinju (1978)

The love suicide has permeated Japanese popular culture, almost as significant a subject as seppuku itself.* Chikamatsu’s Double Suicide at Sonezaki was one of the major drivers in the subject's popularity, as it was the first play (initially for bunraku then later Kabuki) in which both lovers were commoners. Given its immense popularity on stage … Continue reading Double Suicide at Sonezaki / Sonezaki shinju (1978)