Tree of Love / Aizen katsura (1938)

Aizen katsura was one of the few movies made by Kinuyo Tanaka that was actually mentioned in Actress, so it was nice to find it on YouTube. It turns out to be fairly standard romantic melodrama. Kinuyo Tanaka is a nurse who falls in love with the young doctor Ken Uehara. However, she faces several … Continue reading Tree of Love / Aizen katsura (1938)

Actress / Eiga joyu (1987)

Kinuyo Tanaka was one of the most popular and admired actresses in Japanese movies, so it is no surprise to find that ten years after her death, Kon Ichikawa made a bio-pic about her life. To a considerable degree, her history is also the history of Japanese film in general, and Ichikawa also tries to … Continue reading Actress / Eiga joyu (1987)

The Bride Talks in Her Sleep / Hanayome no negoto (1933)

Like The Neighbor's Wife and Mine, Gosho's Bride Talks in Her Sleep is designed to show off the new sound technology that Shochiku was slowly introducing as their studio standard. It is also a light-hearted look at student and salaryman life in the early thirties, very much the same feel as Ozu's silent student comedies … Continue reading The Bride Talks in Her Sleep / Hanayome no negoto (1933)

Death of a Tea Master / Sen no Rikyu: Honkakubo ibun (1989)

Among the many mysteries of Japanese culture, the tea ceremony remains arguably the least comprehensible to outsiders. Though similar rituals began in China and continue to be observed in some form in China and Korea, the Japanese seem to have taken it to an extreme, converting the brewing and drinking of a cup of tea … Continue reading Death of a Tea Master / Sen no Rikyu: Honkakubo ibun (1989)

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)