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The Human Condition

Want a nine-hour dose of the truth of existence so harrowing that it will make you feel grateful no matter how humble your situation? Masaki Kobayshi's epic of the real cost of war boggles the mind with its creeping revelations of cosmic bleakness. Yet all the way through you know you're experiencing a truth far beyond slogans and sentiments. The Human Condition Region B Blu-ray Arrow Academy (UK) 1959-61 / B&W / 2:35 anamorphic widescreen / 574 min. / Ningen no jôken / Street Date September 19, 2016 / Available from Amazon UK £ 39.99 Starring Tatsuya Nakadai, Michiyo Aratama, Chikage Awashima, Ineko Arima, Keiji Sada, So Yamamura, Kunie Tanaka, Kei Sato, Chishu Ryu, Taketoshi Naito. Cinematography Yoshio Miyajima Art Direction Kazue Hirataka <Film Editor Keiichi Uraoka Original Music Chuji Kinoshita Written by Zenzo Matsuyama, Masaki Kobayashi from the novel by Jumpei Gomikawa Produced by Shigeru Wakatsuki Directed by Masaki Kobayashi

Reviewed by Glenn Erickson

The first Blu-ray of perhaps
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Kwaidan

What makes a Ghost Story scary? This classic was almost too artistic for the Japanese. Masaki Kobayashi's four stories of terror work their spells through intensely beautiful images -- weirdly painted skies, strange mists -- and a Toru Takemitsu audio track that incorporates strange sounds as spooky musical punctuation. Viewers never forget the Woman of the Snow, or the faithful Hoichi the Earless. Finally restored to its full three-hour length. Kwaidan Blu-ray The Criterion Collection 90 1964 / Color / 2:35 widescreen / 183 161, 125 min. / available through The Criterion Collection / Street Date October 20, 2015 / 39.95 Starring Michiyo Aratama, Rentaro Mikuni; Tatsuya Nakadai, Keiko Kishi; Katsuo Nakamura, Tetsurao Tanba, Takashi Shimura; Osamu Takizawa. Cinematography Yoshio Miyajima Film Editor Hisashi Sagara Art Direction Shigemasa Toda Set Decoration Dai Arakawa Costumes Masahiro Kato Original Music Toru Takemitsu Written by Yoko Mizuki from stories collected by Kiozumi Yakumo (Lafcadio Hearn) Produced by Shigeru Wakatsuki Directed by Masaki Kobayashi

Reviewed by Glenn Erickson
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'The Sword of Doom' (1966) - Best Movies #3

The list of great samurai films is long and it would probably consume a person's entire lifetime if they were to seek them all out in an attempt to satisfy any measure of a comprehensive list. Several of the known greats I have yet to see and most likely those that are new to the genre will start in the most obvious of places, that being the films of Akira Kurosawa, most specifically Seven Samurai and then probably Yojimbo, two films that will certainly be included on my Best Movies list before all is said and done along with several others, but as I said, the list is long. That said, I didn't want my first samurai entry on my Best Movies list to be an entirely obvious one, though fans of samurai films will no doubt be familiar with Kihachi Okamoto's The Sword of Doom. The first film
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Hey, Toronto! Win Tickets To See Classic Japanese Drama Suzaki Paradise This Saturday!

The Twitch curated Tokyo Drifters: 100 Years Of Nikkatsu screening series continues at the Tiff Bell Lightbox this Saturday with a rare screening of Kawashima Yuzo's Suzaki Paradise: Red Light District.  Considered one of the greatest Japanese films of all time by a master filmmaker largely overlooked in the west, Suzaki Paradise will screen from a subtitled 35mm print and you can win tickets now!A more sombre offering from Nikkatsu, Yuzo Kawashima's Suzaki Paradise: Red Light District offers an unsparing look at postwar poverty and desperation. Young married couple Tsutae (Michiyo Aratama) and Yoshiji (Tatsuya Mihashi) arrive in Tokyo with little more than the clothes on their backs and take up residence just outside Suzaki, one of Tokyo's most notorious red-light districts. Lusting after the...

[Read the whole post on twitchfilm.com...]
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Catherine Reviews Kihachi Okamoto’s The Sword of Doom

  • CriterionCast
We open on a mountaintop. An elderly man (Kamatami Fujiwara) and his granddaughter (Yoko Naito) emerge. He tells her the Buddhist origins of the lands surrounding them. They stop to rest and eat their lunch before beginning their downhill descent. The granddaughter, whose name is Omatsu, goes to find water. The elderly man prays for death so that his granddaughter will be happy and “no longer a pilgrim”. Suddenly, a deep voice calls out “old man”. He turns around and sees a man in black garb, his hat covering his face, smoke all around him. He approaches the elderly man and tells him to step forward and look to the west. The elderly man realizes what is about to happen, but before he can elicit a response; he is struck down with his wish cruelly fulfilled. The murderer is a samurai named Ryunosuke Tsukue (Tatsuya Nakadai), and he is The Sword of Doom’s protagonist.
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The End Of Summer d: Yasujiro Ozu

Kohayagawa-ke No Aki / The End of Summer (1961) Direction: Yasujiro Ozu Screenplay: Yasujiro Ozu, Kôgo Noda Cast: Ganjiro Nakamura, Setsuko Hara, Yôko Tsukasa, Michiyo Aratama, Chieko Naniwa, Hisaya Morishige, Reiko Dan By Dan Schneider of Cosmoetica: When an artist has reached a level of such high art that he and his work can be spoken of as being in the top tier of his art form, something terrible happens: often brilliant — but not quite ineffably so — work is looked upon with a lesser eye by critics and audiences alike. This is not an unnatural development; once treated to fancy cuisine, even a good steak can seem a comedown to most palates. Yet, that is a frustrating development, for sometimes quality is overlooked or dismissed because it is merely an 8 of 10, rather than a perfect 10. Such is the case concerning the critical reception of Yasujiro Ozu’s [...]
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Now on DVD: "The Human Condition" (Masaki Kobayashi, 1959-1961)

  • MUBI
Masaki Kobayashi's six-part magnum opus, The Human Condition, based on Junpei Gomikawa's postwar novel, bears the imprint of Kobayashi's tutelage under legendary filmmaker Keisuke Kinoshita at Shochiku's Ofuna studio, a critical, introspective, and deeply personal account of wartime Japan framed from the perspective of an idealistic everyman (and Kobayashi's alterego), Kaji (Tatsuya Nakadai). Opening to the ironic image of lovers Kaji and Michiko (Michiyo Aratama) meeting under an archway auspiciously called the Southern Gate of Peace in Manchuria as Imperial troops march in the street, Kobayashi presents an incisive image of 1930s Japanese society that is morally consumed—and ravaged—by increasingly extremist values of militarism, occupation, and nationalism.
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The Human Condition d: Masaki Kobayashi

The Human Condition Trilogy No Greater Love (1959), The Road to Eternity (1959), A Soldier’s Prayer (1961) Direction: Masaki Kobayashi Screenplay: Zenzo Matsuyama and Masaki Kobayashi; from Jumpei Gomikawa’s novel Cast: Tatsuya Nakadai, Michiyo Aratama Michiyo Aratama, Tatsuya Nakadai in The Human Condition Masaki Kobayashi’s The Human Condition, based on Jumpei Gomikawa’s novel, is probably as well known for its scope [...]
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