Company Funeral / Shaso (1989)

Shaso opens with a title card translated as “Newspapers are written with intelligence but are sold by gangsters.” This is immediately followed by salesmen for two competing papers forging subscriptions and fighting with each other. But we soon turn to boardroom machinations as the President Okabe, whose father founded the paper, squeezes out the CEO … Continue reading Company Funeral / Shaso (1989)

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)

As a Wife, As a Woman / Poignant Story / Tsuma to shite onna to shite (1961)

Few Japanese movies illustrate the status of the Japanese mistress as clearly as does Naruse’s As a Wife, As a Woman. Miho (Hideko Takamine) has been the mistress of Professor Kouno for almost 20 years and has run the bar he owns in the Ginza for the last ten, but she is not getting any … Continue reading As a Wife, As a Woman / Poignant Story / Tsuma to shite onna to shite (1961)

Most Dangerous Game / Games of Maximum Risk / Mottomo kiken na yugi (1978)

In The Most Dangerous Game, the action movie is reduced to its pure essence – action with hardly a break except for our hero to get drunk while he recovers absurdly quickly from a gunshot wound. Barring that brief pause, we have beatings, gun battles, rape, lots of running, some more gun battles, the most … Continue reading Most Dangerous Game / Games of Maximum Risk / Mottomo kiken na yugi (1978)

Zatoichi Goes to the Fire Festival / Zatoichi abare-himatsuri (1970)

In 1968-69, Shintaro Katsu seemed to be making a major change of direction. He finished both the Bad Reputation and the Hoodlum Soldier series and appeared to be closing down Zatoichi as well. This hardly means Katsu took a break from filming, appearing in half a dozen or so other movies every year. He had … Continue reading Zatoichi Goes to the Fire Festival / Zatoichi abare-himatsuri (1970)

Scent of Incense / Koge – Ichibu: Waremoko no sho & Koge – Nibu: Mitsumata no sho (1964)

Kinoshita’s last major movie,* at least until 1983's Children of Nagasaki, The Scent of Incense is a domestic epic that spans sixty years in the life of a geisha and her mother. Released in two parts on the same day, the two halves total almost 3½ hours in length and against the background of Japan’s … Continue reading Scent of Incense / Koge – Ichibu: Waremoko no sho & Koge – Nibu: Mitsumata no sho (1964)