a page of madness

film writing by nicholas vroman

Archive for September 2013

Japanese Movie Posters 5

leave a comment »

_IMG_8099

Heitai Yakuza Nagurikomi / 兵隊やくざ殴り込み / Hoodlum Soldier on the Attack (1957)

監督 田中徳三                                 Director: Tokuzou Tanaka
脚本 笠原良三                                 Script : Ryozo Kasahara
撮影 武田千吉郎                              Cinematography: Senkichiro Takeda
音楽 鏑木創                                     Music: Hajime Kaburagi

キャスト                                         Cast
勝新太郎                                         Shintaro Katsu
田村高廣                                         Takahiro Tamura
野川由美子                                      Yumiko Nogawa
岩崎加根子                 Kaneko Iwasaki

This poster is available to buy ($35 + $20 shipping and handling from Japan). Click here to purchase. Size: 145cm x 51cm

Japanese Movie Posters 4

leave a comment »

_IMG_8095

Otoko no kiba / 男の牙 (1957)

監督 倉橋良介                                 Director: Ryosuke Kurahashi
脚本 鈴木兵吾                                 Script : Hyogo Suzuki
撮影 服部幹夫                                 Cinematography: Mikio Hattori

キャスト                                         Cast
田村高廣                                         Takahiro Tamura
高野真二                                         Shinji Takano
名和宏                                            Hiroshi Nawa

This poster is available to buy ($55 + $20 shipping and handling from Japan). Click here to purchase. Size: 145cm x 51cm

Unforgiven / Yurusarezaru mono / 許されざる者

leave a comment »

tumblr_mf38yrGbIr1qacz9lo1_500Maybe it’s belated revenge for the pilfering of Seven Samurai to make The Magnificent Seven. Sang Il-Lee’s jidaigeki remake of Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven is a ravishingly beautiful affair with a clever conceit of reimagining 1880s Hokkaido as a lawless and brutal land akin to the Wild West, with the Ainu standing in for Native Americans. The top-notch cast goes through the motions of recreating Eastwood’s unforgettable characters. Ken Watanabe does a fiercely poker-faced Clint, but lacks the iconic resonance that Eastwood brings to each and every one of his roles. Koichi Sato is appropriately badass, but he ain’t Gene Hackman. Great character actor Akira Emoto does his best to fill Morgan Freeman’s shoes. And most odd is Ainu sidekick/Schofield Kid, Yuuya Agira, who channels Toshiro Mifune at his most itching and scratching buffoonery, to no apparent end. Where Sang Il-Lee’s version fails is in its dependence on character identification with the original, instead of developing credible characters of its own – and worse, its annoyingly sentimentality, which played no part in Eastwood’s masterpiece.

Originally published in EL Magazine, September 2013.

Japan’s Tragedy / Nihon no Higeki / 日本の悲劇

leave a comment »

250px-Japan's_Tragedy-p1Japan’s Tragedy, Masahiro Kobayashi’s second collaboration with Japanese cinema kyosei Tatsuya Nakadai, shows them both at the top of their games. Kobayashi is a “serious” director who can sometimes misfire, but when he hits – which is often – he hits big. Japan’s Tragedy opens with Fujio Murai (Tatsuya Nakadai) learning he has lung cancer. He decides to seal himself (he’s a carpenter) into his room, refusing to eat or drink. He spends his last miserable and lonely days reminiscing about his dead wife and arguing with his distraught son, Yoshi (Kazuki Kitamura), who tries vainly to coax him out of his death chamber. The backdrop of 3.11 weighs heavily, as the daughter-in-law and the granddaughter have not been seen since it happened. Serious stuff, that in lesser hands would be a maudlin mess of sentimentality. But here, Kobayashi -with Akemi Omori, Shinobu Terajima and his two male leads – dramatizes the profound family rifts, the misplaced sense of loyalties and the schizophrenic ideas and attitudes that make for a national tragedy that’s much bigger than 3.11 itself.

Originally published in EL Magazine, September 2013.

The End of Summer / Natsu no Owari / 夏の終り

leave a comment »

250px-The_End_of_Summer_-_Natsu_no_Owari-p1Kazuyoshi Kumari’s adaptation of activist nun Jakucho Setouchi’s breakthrough 1963 autobiographical novel, The End Of Summer beautifully captures the struggles of the barely fictional character, Tomoko (Hikari Mitsushima) with a simple, yet wholly original formalism reminiscent of Ozu. The story, set in the heady post-war 50s into the early 60s , revolves around a love triangle between Tomoko, long playing the mistress to married older writer Shitto (Kaoru Kobayashi) and the new stud who comes into her life, Ryota Kinoshita (Gou Ayano). The period detail, the way rooms and exteriors compress and confound lives, the way Tomoko’s trysts seem so forlorn are brought into stunning focus with the usual brilliant camerawork of Ryuto Kondo. The three leads shine under Kumari’s direction, but Mistushima shows her finest, playing a young woman in transition, finding herself, despite the noise of living and loving in a world of changing mores. Kumari’s a smart enough director to give her plenty of space and screen to allow her and her singularly independent character to fly.

Originally published in EL Magazine, September 2013.

Devil’s Path / 凶悪

leave a comment »

250px-The_Devils_Path-p2Director Kazuya Shiraishi’s second feature film outing is a far cry from his debut film, Lost Paradise in Tokyo, a realist whore-with-a-heart-of-gold fantasy. In Devil’s Path, he plumbs the depths of human depravity in dark noir that falls into the territory of James Ellroy. In this story, Fujii (Takayuki Yamada), a young reporter gets a tip from a death row inmate, Sudo (Pierre Taki) of series of grisly crimes committed by him and a his boss, a fellow known as the Teacher (Lily Franky), sometime in their dark past. Fujii, not unlike Jake Gyllenhaal in Zodiac, gets drawn into an ever-deepening mystery. Shiraishi keeps the tension taught through flashbacks of a sickening world of nihilistic criminality and a bland and forgetful present. Lily Franky, as the Teacher, is on a level with any of the most famous psychopaths in cinema history. Takayuki Yamada downplays his character with a haunting depth. Devil’s Path resolves on a particularly sour note as the mystery is sewn up. An empty and dreadful feeling remains as the credit roll.

Originally published in EL Magazine, September, 2013.

Written by Nicholas Vroman

September 3, 2013 at 9:41 am

Tomogui / 共喰い

leave a comment »

250px-Tomogui-p2With Tomogui, Shinji Aoyama misses again  with a potentially interesting Zola-esque tale of the propensity of violence to be passed down from father to son. Set in a backwater town in the late 80s, we’re introduced to teen-aged Toma (Masaki Suda) returning to his father’s (Ken Mitsuishi) home. Here he sees dissipated dad abusing his current lover (Yukiko Shinohara). Mom, now divorced, having only one hand and owning a fish shop (where nobody seems to go), offers worldly advice to young Toma. In the meantime, Toma’s got a brand new girl, sweet Chikusa (Misaki Kinoshita). Tomogui starts off well enough, with a cast of strong character actors, but soon begins a decline of predictability end ever-escalating histrionics that culminates in a laughable scene of Mom getting revenge on her ex after he rapes Chikusa – that is after she’s been abused by Toma. Aoyama does add a coda that cynically, and I must admit humorously, inflates a bit of all this genetically predisposed nonsense. But I don’t think that humor was what he was after.

Originally published in EL Magazine, September 2013.

Written by Nicholas Vroman

September 2, 2013 at 9:40 am