Hey, Lots More Great and Often Obscure Classical Japanese Movies

by |
07/30/2008 9:00 AM |

So today through August 14, the Walter Reade Theater will be paying tribute to the late advocate for Japanese film Madame Kawakita, by showing a selection of films by eight notable Japanese directors. This is significant to your life inasmuch as it means many good movies will be playing at Lincoln Center over the next two weeks. You like good movies, yes? Please don’t answer that it was a rhetorical question.

The eight directors are Akira Kurosawa — whose movies I’d skip if unless you’re there anyway because realistically you’re only going to a couple of these and why have those couple be by the dead foreign filmmaker who is most available on DVD in this country — and the corrosive New Waver Nagisa Oshima (a career-spanning retrospective of whom will be presented as a sidebar of this fall’s New York Film Festival), and the genre journeyman Kaneto Shindo, the world’s second-oldest active filmmaker, and the late greats Shohei Imamura and Kon Ichikawa (both of whose deaths have done wonders for the projector time given to their works stateside, to my endless delight and edification), and the dance documentarian Sumiko Haneda and the prolific populist Yoji Yamada and the eternal mindfucker Seijun Suzuki.

“Movies in this series I am especially curious to see, taking their relative availability into account as well ” would be Ichikawa’s late-50s and early 60s stories of family and dubious economic opportunity Her Brother (one of his more lauded films; it helps kick off the series tonight) and A Full-Up Train (and I can vouch for Conflagration, his austere adaptation of Mishima’s Temple of the Golden Pavilion featuring a scene-stealing Tatsuya Nakadai). Also Yamada’s beloved When Spring Comes Late, about a family living off in secluded Hokkaido, and Imamura’s tough-to-see Intentions of Murder.

“Movie in this series that you should really see because it is remarkable and also completely unavailable to rent in this country, a travesty well worth writing your congressperson about come to think of it” would be Oshima’s devastating Boy (pictured), which plays on Monday and next Saturday.