The day before Japan announces its defeat in WW2, a very ill Shusaku arrives in Okayama. He meets Shinko, an innkeeper, who inadvertently gives him the will to live as he spies her crying ... See full summary »
In the 1920s, the anarchist revolutionary Sakae Osugi is financially supported by his wife, journalist Itsuko Masaoka. He spends his time doing nothing but philosophizing about political ... See full summary »
Miyako Mizuki ((Mariko Okada), a wife and mother, becomes romantically involved with Kitano, her interior decorator. At first a simple flirtation, the relationship soon develops into a ... See full summary »
Set around a remote Buddhist monastery, it features Masao, a young son of a rich merchant who doesn't want to follow his father into business or go to college, preferring to study under a ... See full summary »
A man penetrates by night in a nurse dormitory planning to kill them all. While he accomplishes to his self imposed task thoughts and obsessions come to his mind revealing his love deficits... See full synopsis »
The movie is built around the very complex relationships between Yoshida, leaving Shimizu for Aihara (or at least he tries to), and his friend Ito, whose love for Yoshida seems to have ... See full summary »
I've just seen this film in a rare cinema screening. It's difficult to comment on this film. There are so many disparate elements and themes. Perhaps what the director was trying to do was create a portrait of a society in a time and a place that was antithetical to love. How can the young love of our two heroes (Shun and Nanami) be succoured by a society that has embraced the commodification of sexuality (including the sexual commodification of children), and rigid glacial patriarchalism. The ending of the movie underlines this (but I won't give it away).
Some of the absurd constipated behaviour of the Japanese is on full display here, Shun is so up-tight that he has to go to classes and be taught to laugh. Daisuke a high-school friend of Nanami shows a film in his university film club about his love for another girl at his high school, how he never managed to express it or have it recognised. It seems he barely even spoke to the object of his affection. He says that if she had just been beautiful that he would have been able to find another love. But by all accounts he was much more deeply attracted to her. They say that one's first love is always the strongest. For Daisuke it was so strong that it becomes hollow and obsessional, he will never love again.
Of course the beauty of this movie and its inventiveness marks it out as a very interesting film. Some of the shots are amazingly beautiful, their composition not entirely relevant to proceedings, almost cinematic asides (urban vistas, and graveyard scenes). It has a sense of atmosphere on a par with Rivette and Godard, and the film is much more dense and complex than films made by those two directors, or to be more accurate presents a portrait of a Japanese society profoundly more multi-textured than the France of the New Wave. A Japan at the crossroads between tradition and modernity both spiritually, intellectually, and socially.
At least in parts this movie is ambivalent, it portrays first love as foolish, obsessional and shallow and it also is sympathetic to the sadoerotic subculture (at least in places). But that's why it's so good, nothing is fed to you on a plate.
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