Wuthering Heights / Arashi ga oka (1988)

On its surface the least likely European novel for a Japanese adaptation, Wuthering Heights is transformed by Yoshihige Yoshida, Toru Takemitsu, and a towering characterization by Yusaku Matsuda into one of the finest unknown Japanese movies ever made and certainly the best film adaptation of the novel itself I have ever seen. A blind biwa … Continue reading Wuthering Heights / Arashi ga oka (1988)

Gonza the Spearman / Yari no Gonza (1986)

Gonza is a handsome young samurai, so handsome that girls sing songs about him in the street, and regarded as the best spearman in his clan. Oyuki, the sister of his competitor Bonnojo, wants to marry him, but he feels he needs further advancement to secure permission from her brother. When the daimyo of the … Continue reading Gonza the Spearman / Yari no Gonza (1986)

Double Suicide / Shinju: Ten no Amijima (1969)

One of the simplest yet one of the most complex of Japanese movies, Shinoda’s Double Suicide adapts Ten no Amijima, one of the most popular of Chikamatsu’s domestic suicide plays, to film. Unlike Mizoguchi’s adaptation of a different love suicide play, however, Shinoda theatricalizes the film medium without ever suggesting he is filming a stage … Continue reading Double Suicide / Shinju: Ten no Amijima (1969)

Scattered Clouds / Two in the Shadow / Midaregumo (1967)

If we did not have Yoko Tsukasa’s sleek sixties skirts and hairdo, we might easily think Scattered Clouds had been made a decade earlier. Its color looks like fifties Eastmancolor and its bland compositions look like the work of people still trying to master wide-screen. Its omni-present music score by Toru Takemitsu sounds like it … Continue reading Scattered Clouds / Two in the Shadow / Midaregumo (1967)