Takashi Makino – Ghost of OT 301 (2014)

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Inspired by live performance of Inconsolable Ghost at OT301, Amsterdam.

Images by Makino Takashi.
Music by Inconsolable Ghost
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Most likely my favourite film of all time; the greatest sensory experience I had watching a film. Makino Takashi is probably the most formally interesting filmmaker working today and this is a great intro to his work. Watching his films are looking at the universe from outer space, falling into decay, destruction and beauty – and interesting sound collaborations. Continue reading Takashi Makino – Ghost of OT 301 (2014)

Kazuo Kuroki – Tomorrow – ashita (1988)

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On August 9, 1945, the Americans dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki. This film, based on a story by Mitsuharu Inoue, describes the daily life of people in Nagasaki the day before that fateful event. It presents the human drama of people’s lives, and their feelings of joy and sadness. These include a newlywed couple, an expectant mother, an American prisoner of war, and star-struck lovers who must say farewell because the boy is called to serve in the army. Each of these people, like others in the city, hoped to live with their dreams for ‘tomorrow’. However, tomorrow never comes for them, as their lives are brought to an abrupt and unexpected end. But in this case, knowing how the story ends doesn’t detract from the experience at all; rather, it heightens the emotional impact, which is further enhanced by the poignant musical score from Teizo Matsumura. ‘Ashita’ is the first film in Kazuo Kuroki’s ‘War Requiem Trilogy,’ which also includes ‘Utsukushii Natsu Kirishima’ (2002) and ‘Chichi to Kuraseba’ (2004). Continue reading Kazuo Kuroki – Tomorrow – ashita (1988)

Sogo Ishii – Gyakufunsha kazoku AKA The Crazy Family (1984)

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The Kobayashi family finally get the chance to move out of their tiny, cramped Tokyo apartment in favour of the suburban house of their dreams. But all is not well: the house is infested by termites and the family starts cracking up: Son Masaki is studying so obsessively for his exams that he’s losing his mind; daughter Erika is oblivious of all but her forthcoming record company audition, grandfather Yasukuni starts getting World War II flashbacks and father Katsuhiko is so worried about his family’s “sickness” that he thinks can only be cured by group suicide… Continue reading Sogo Ishii – Gyakufunsha kazoku AKA The Crazy Family (1984)

Yasujirô Ozu – Daigaku wa detakeredo aka I graduated but… (1929)

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大学は出たけれど

Yasujirô Ozu wrote:
I cast Takada Minoru and Tanaka Kinuyo for the first time in this film. I had made a good number of student films, but when it came to filming young actors, it was hard to go beyond the old themes of salarymen or college life. However, in those days, the images of white-collar types were limited. As for students, they were of course a different breed from the ones nowadays, who get into fights with the police. They were all very carefree, and comparatively easy fodder for jokes in nonsense comedies. Shimizu Hiroshi originally wanted to direct this film, but somehow, the script fell into my lap. I thought, if I was determined to be a director, then I must get to grips with any genre and make every film as well as I could. It’s all very well for the so-called film auteur to have artistic ideas but one also needs the professional flair for handling all the different aspects of filmmaking. Admittedly, excessive professionalism could spell trouble, but I was nonetheless extremely grateful for the chance to develop my professionalism through making these kinds of films. Continue reading Yasujirô Ozu – Daigaku wa detakeredo aka I graduated but… (1929)

Hajime Anzai – Hentaida (2016)

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This directorial debut from art director Anzai Hajime adapts a short story from popular writer and music personality Miura Jun. A guy (Maeno Kenta) spends an extra year studying for college entrance exams but ends up at a second-rate university, and becomes a musician after randomly getting involved with a misguided university rock ‘n roll club. Eventually the guy gets married, has a child, and builds an ordinary life for himself, but he hasn’t been able to break off his college romance with Kaoruko (Tsukifuna Sarara), his S&M dominatrix. When he and Kaoruko go off to one especially shitty gig, existential angst erupts and the trajectory of weirdness goes parabolic, leading to an ending you will never forget. Continue reading Hajime Anzai – Hentaida (2016)

Kichitaro Negishi – Enrai AKA Distant Thunder (1981)

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AMG wrote:
Mitsuo Wada (Toshiyuki Nagashima) works at raising tomatoes in a greenhouse, next to a big public housing complex. Because his father has moved out to go live with his girlfriend, Mitsuo lives alone with his mother and grandmother, a situation that does not particularly curb his romantic life. First he becomes involved with Kaede (Rie Yokoyama) a cafe manager, but that is not going to be a very permanent relationship once he discovers she is married. Next, he goes through slightly more formal channels to meet Ayako Hanamura (Eri Ishida) and the two decide that marriage might be the best option for both of them. Unfortunately, his former lover Kaede has run off with his best friend, Hirotsugu Nakamori (Johnny Ogura) — who is in a lot of trouble already because of stealing some money — and the two are not heard from again until the day of Mitsuo’s wedding. Hirotsugu shows up alone at the wedding, bearer of a tragic tale — not the kind of auspicious beginning Mitsuo and his bride would have wanted for their new life together. Continue reading Kichitaro Negishi – Enrai AKA Distant Thunder (1981)

Kaneto Shindô – Daigo Fukuryu-Maru aka Lucky Dragon No. 5 (1959)

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Daigo Fukuryū Maru (第五福龍丸?, Lucky Dragon 5) was a Japanese tuna fishing boat, which was exposed to and contaminated by nuclear fallout from the United States’ Castle Bravo thermonuclear device test on Bikini Atoll, on March 1, 1954. Kuboyama Aikichi, the boat’s chief radioman, died half a year later, on September 23, 1954, suffering from acute radiation syndrome. He is considered the first victim of the hydrogen bomb of Operation Castle Bravo.

Five years after the accident, the Japanese film director Shindo Kaneto made a film titled Daigo Fukuryu Maru. The actor Uno Jukichi played the role of Kuboyama Aikichi. Director Kaneto Shindo spoke at a screening of his 1959 film ”Daigo Fukuryu Maru” (Lucky Dragon No. 5), emphasizing the need to abolish nuclear weapons and to continue educating youth about the devastation they cause. ”Nuclear arms have been an issue since World War II,” the 91-year-old told an audience of over 90 people, citing this week’s multilateral talks in Beijing on North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. ”They can wipe out the human race.” Continue reading Kaneto Shindô – Daigo Fukuryu-Maru aka Lucky Dragon No. 5 (1959)