Rhapsody in August / Hachigatsu no rapusodi (1991)

Himself one of the last of the Japanese directors to have experienced the war years as an adult, Kurosawa in 1991 used Kiyoko Murata's novella of a woman spending time with her grandchildren as a basis for a movie about the lasting after-effects of the Nagasaki bombing. While Kinoshita had dealt with the blast and … Continue reading Rhapsody in August / Hachigatsu no rapusodi (1991)

Tomorrow / Ashita (1988)

Movies can show many things and have many effects on their audience, but even so, it's rare to find a movie that is simply overwhelming. In 1988, Japan produced two of them, one of which (Grave of the Fireflies) is still remembered and admired today, the other of which was essentially unknown outside Japan and, … Continue reading Tomorrow / Ashita (1988)

Ballad of Narayama / Narayama bushiko (1983)

Imamura’s Ballad of Narayama could not be more different from Kinoshita’s version. Where Kinoshita used a kabuki-like stage setting with realistic acting to tell the fable, Imamura opts for intense realism. This makes Imamura’s version more dramatic, at times more humorous, and more immediately powerful. In addition to dispensing with artificial scenery and moving his … Continue reading Ballad of Narayama / Narayama bushiko (1983)

Sandakan 8 / Sandakan hachibanshokan bohkyo (1974)

Sandakan was the British name for a port town in northern Borneo, and Sandakan #8 was the eighth brothel on the main street. Most of the brothels were stocked with Japanese women. During the Meiji era, similar brothels spread all across Southeast Asia, and even into Manchuria and Siberia decades ahead of the Japanese military. … Continue reading Sandakan 8 / Sandakan hachibanshokan bohkyo (1974)