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PostPosted: Fri Sep 30, 2011 10:43 pm 
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I've only watched The Warped Ones, which I was expecting to hate at the the beginning with the obnoxious teens driving about and harassing anyone around them. However, the movie reveals itself to be a sinister Boudu Saved From Drowning-esque tale of class conflict, where the teens reek havoc upon a straight-laced middle class couple who fall into their midst, disrupting their routine lives and destroying their bourgeois vision of happiness. The ending is a perfect cap to the film's bitter take on the Japanese class system, with
[Reveal] Spoiler:
the straight-laced middle class couple now torn apart, and the hooker and gangster laughing at their misfortune.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 01, 2011 1:46 pm 
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Hopefully I'll check that one out next, but for now I got in Black Sun this morning. I'm not sure why, but I thought this was going to be the weakest of the bunch and while it is deliberately leisurely honestly lacking in any propulsion it still works extremely well revealing Kurahara to be something of a chameleon with none of the three so far having anything stylistically in common even if certain concerns over escape, honesty, and relationships remain throughout.

The film really doesn't move at all until about twenty minutes in when the American soldier is introduced. Before than it feels like a noir influenced take on Paisan. Actually the entire affair feels just as indebted to the Italians as the Americans which is I guess is appropriate for a film so concerned with Japanese identity in a globalized world. It's funny than to contrast the American with the American made Japanese both of who are the center of the film. It's really amazing to see our lead's reaction to seeing, finally, a black guy. He's so starstruck which is an odd thing to begin with that he doesn't even realize the pain and suffering the soldier is going through.

This prompts easily the most strained of Kurahara's strained relationships yet. He gives us plenty of insight into why these two are at each others throats and I wonder what exactly was going through his mind as a result. Is he talking about incompatibility? That would fly into the face of the rest of his cinema so I really doubt it. To be honest I'm not sure what specifically he had on his mind if anything. Maybe it's just a little summary of the occupation up until that point (in which case he's letting the Japanese off lightly even if he characterizes them as dumb). This is an aspect I'll have to wait for others to expand my opinion on.

Style here is almost as important as the characters as it once again sort of lies to the audience into believing that there's more here than it really is. If I Hate But Love centered on an internal performance that gives a different external impression than Black Sun is a whole movie of that. The soundtrack blasts as a machine gun is waved around and our lead acts out his most childish fantasies. Fortunately this Jazz fueled exterior is exactly that, jazz. There might be a few rough bumps, but it's more than worth it for those glorious notes that just hit the right spot.

That covers up though all the thought that goes on with the characters and through the action. I think knowing nothing one could experience this film without subtitles and still take in the whole thing. The dialogue is just an other part of the noise with all of the action being in the quick glances and shocked poses that the characters goes through. Ultimately it's a sad destructive song.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2011 8:13 pm 
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I was most shocked to find out that Intimidation is barely an hour long and the benefits from that are immediate. This thing swims like a shark shooting forward so quickly that under normal circumstances you'd be ten steps behind. This is Nikkatsu Noir though so of course I wasn't even on the same path. At first I thought this was going The Killing route and telling the story out of order because certain things were happening that shouldn't until later but bam halfway through it was revealed to be linear the entire time which just makes me more confused. I don't know what this all means for the qualities I'm seeing in Kurahara, but it is again an other massive shift in gears closer to the house style. So far this is the one I most want to hear other people talk about because of that enigmatic nature. The best I can parse out is that this one is in absolute isolation. There's no shoulder or human to talk to. This is a world where escape isn't even a consideration. Te idea exists, but it is all too well known tat escape would only lead to more things to escape from. Society has built for these men and women a series of interlocking chambers that only give the sense of moving forward even though it's easy to figure out that you're only getting deeper in the box. All three of the things I keyed in on last time become false ideas that never actually occur even as the lead convinces himself he has it.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 10, 2011 9:57 pm 
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ptatler wrote:
Just finished watching the set tonight. Have to say that BLACK SUN is the stand out (I'd love to check out WOMAN FROM THE SEA; that sounds absolutely nuts), though INTIMIDATION is more in my wheelhouse (tersely plotted, mean-spirited little noir) Too tired to elaborate but I'm cooking up a review that will be posted by the Tuesday release date. This is a fantastic set and, much like the Matarazzo set, a gateway drug to a filmmaker formerly unknown to me. Worth blind-buying, for sure.

I just received my set today so will probably start with INTIMIDATION, and possibly also BLACK SUN, tomorrow.
My Matarazzo set is in the post; in fact it was shipped first, so hopefully I won't have to wait much longer for it.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 10, 2011 10:11 pm 
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You can't go wrong with either. In order of good to great: THIRST FOR LOVE, I HATE BUT LOVE, THE WARPED ONES, BLACK SUN, INTIMIDATION (the last two are a tie; this is wholly based on my personal preferences; WARPED ONES is probably the "canonical" Kurahara, if there is such a thing).


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 10, 2011 10:18 pm 
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ptatler wrote:
You can't go wrong with either. In order of good to great: THIRST FOR LOVE, I HATE BUT LOVE, THE WARPED ONES, BLACK SUN, INTIMIDATION (the last two are a tie; this is wholly based on my personal preferences; WARPED ONES is probably the "canonical" Kurahara, if there is such a thing).

I'm not a great fan of the Japanese 'youth'/'juvenile delinquent movies, so if thats a major element of THIRST FOR LOVE, I might downgrade it for that reason: but I'm nothing if not open-minded


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 10, 2011 10:24 pm 
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Thank god for that.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 10, 2011 10:30 pm 
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knives wrote:
Thank god for that.

No capitals, knives? [-X


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 10, 2011 10:34 pm 
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Huh? That was just relief at somebody watching something even if they might not like it. A couple weeks back got into an argument with somebody over just that issue.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 11, 2011 12:12 pm 

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ptatler wrote:
In order of good to great: THIRST FOR LOVE, I HATE BUT LOVE, THE WARPED ONES, BLACK SUN, INTIMIDATION (the last two are a tie; this is wholly based on my personal preferences; WARPED ONES is probably the "canonical" Kurahara, if there is such a thing).

In Sight&Sound review Michael Atkinson described THE WARPED ONES as the equivalent of a three minute punk rock song.Truly demented movie.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 11, 2011 12:25 pm 
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JPJ wrote:
In Sight&Sound review Michael Atkinson described THE WARPED ONES as the equivalent of a three minute punk rock song.Truly demented movie.

Sounds cool: although that of course depends on what his favourite punk rock songs are!


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 11, 2011 9:54 pm 
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knives wrote:
I was most shocked to find out that Intimidation is barely an hour long and the benefits from that are immediate. This thing swims like a shark shooting forward so quickly that under normal circumstances you'd be ten steps behind. This is Nikkatsu Noir though so of course I wasn't even on the same path. At first I thought this was going The Killing route and telling the story out of order because certain things were happening that shouldn't until later but bam halfway through it was revealed to be linear the entire time which just makes me more confused. I don't know what this all means for the qualities I'm seeing in Kurahara, but it is again an other massive shift in gears closer to the house style. So far this is the one I most want to hear other people talk about because of that enigmatic nature. The best I can parse out is that this one is in absolute isolation. There's no shoulder or human to talk to. This is a world where escape isn't even a consideration. Te idea exists, but it is all too well known tat escape would only lead to more things to escape from. Society has built for these men and women a series of interlocking chambers that only give the sense of moving forward even though it's easy to figure out that you're only getting deeper in the box. All three of the things I keyed in on last time become false ideas that never actually occur even as the lead convinces himself he has it.

Overall I was disappointed with it; I thought he was over-fond of the false endings, - a la Halloween, - and even with the short running time it could have been more tightly edited, or, at least, not devoting so much screen time to reaction shots of the two men playing cat and mouse with each other: I detected faint signs of 'High and Low' in there
Thematically it bodes well for his warped sensibilities, though


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 13, 2011 10:31 am 
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Thomas Dukenfield wrote:
I've only seen The Warped Ones, but it's pretty amazing. It's a post-Godard troubled teen movie, sort of in between Crazed Fruit and Funeral Parade of Roses. I actually saw it as "The Weird Love Makers" via a VHS from Something Weird, and it was released theatrically (in the U.S.) via Radley Metzger's Audubon Films.

So, very much looking forward to this set.

I watched The Warped Ones last night; it might well be the best of the Japanese teen delinquent movies I've seen, although that in itself doesn't mean much.
Its not a great film, though there's much to admire in it, and its clearly the work of a talented director.

The best section may have been the early frenetic drive following their release from reformatory school: it would be interesting to find out how they filmed various sections, both inside and outside the vehicle, assuming they were at all times using a moving vehicle. Decided Godard influence about much of the early sequences.
I thought, though, that it was beautifully paced, which can make the difference in films of this type, and was glad that he limited the use of the reaction shots, and shots focussing on the eyes, which I thought he overdid in 'Intimidation'.

Although he was clearly the focus of much of the film, and its key character, Tamio Kawachi's 'Akira' character too often went wildly over the top, even beyond his character's demands, and played far too much to the camera; for the most part the director managed to strike enough of a balance, though, particularly with Yuko Chishiro's character, Yuki.

I loved the cool jazz soundtrack, which had me reaching for my neglected Blue Note albums: interesting the contrasting taste of young Japanese at the time, between rock'n'roll and Elvis sideburns, and their contemporary cool jazz peers.

Not quite as groundbreaking as Funeral Parade of Roses, though


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 13, 2011 10:43 am 
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Yojimbo wrote:
Decided Godard influence about much of the early sequences.

I'm not sure if this would be possible, given this was released the same year as BREATHLESS. Maybe more of a Nick Ray influence?

I agree that Akira can be a bit much. I think he does a good job at refining the character in BLACK SUN. And, yeah, how cool are those driving shots?! I HATE BUT LOVE has a bit more of this (naturally, given it's a road movie). I'm never not amazed replaying those scenes. I'd love to know how it was done.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 13, 2011 8:59 pm 
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ptatler wrote:
Yojimbo wrote:
Decided Godard influence about much of the early sequences.

I'm not sure if this would be possible, given this was released the same year as BREATHLESS. Maybe more of a Nick Ray influence?

I agree that Akira can be a bit much. I think he does a good job at refining the character in BLACK SUN. And, yeah, how cool are those driving shots?! I HATE BUT LOVE has a bit more of this (naturally, given it's a road movie). I'm never not amazed replaying those scenes. I'd love to know how it was done.

I note from IMDb that 'Breathless' was released in Japan on 26 March 1960, and 'The Warped Ones' on 3rd September.
I recall that Kiju Yoshida had changed his original ending of his debut feature, 'Good For Nothing' , which was released on 6 July 1960 to an homage of sorts to the Godard film, so its not inconceivable that Kurahara, with an additional three months on Yoshida, might have equally been inspired by Godard, and more time to spare to incorporate some ideas from him.
(There might be some Nick Ray influence, also, though I'm not sure have any Japanese New Wave directors admitted him as an influence)


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 13, 2011 9:07 pm 
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Yeah, I was just going to say that, since The Warped Ones was released a couple of months after Good-for-Nothing (which bore an explicit and acknowledged Breathless influence), noting an influence is fair game - not that I've watched the film yet!


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 13, 2011 9:10 pm 
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zedz wrote:
Yeah, I was just going to say that, since The Warped Ones was released a couple of months after Good-for-Nothing (which bore an explicit and acknowledged Breathless influence), noting an influence is fair game - not that I've watched the film yet!

I can just imagine all those hot, - as in highly-regarded, - young Japanese film directors and film school graduates, sitting side-by-side at the Tokio premiere of 'Breathless', notebooks at the ready!
And have you watched 'Intimidation', yet, zedz?


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 14, 2011 4:39 pm 
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Yes, just Intmidation so far, which I enjoyed, but found rather low-wattage alongside a lot of very similar works (e.g. Suzuki, Masumura) from the period. As far as twisty blackmail dramas go, it's way, way below Pleasures of the Flesh. But I look forward to exploring the set and Kurahara further.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 14, 2011 4:42 pm 
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Of the three I've seen it is the weakest so don't worry on that front. Black Sun actually reminded me of Japanese Summer a little bit in how it is, so expect that sort of not necessarily great, but a lot to talk about vibe going in. I'll try to finish the other two this weekend.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 14, 2011 5:25 pm 
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knives wrote:
Of the three I've seen it is the weakest so don't worry on that front. Black Sun actually reminded me of Japanese Summer a little bit in how it is, so expect that sort of not necessarily great, but a lot to talk about vibe going in. I'll try to finish the other two this weekend.

I positively luhve Japanese Summer: Double Suicide which is probably in my Top Five of Oshimas, despite the extraordinary riches of that director's oeuvre: I'm tempted to skip directly to 'Black Sun' without having first to pass through 'I Hate To Love', but I've also got Matarazzo to consider which I just received today and am particularly intrigued by


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 14, 2011 5:52 pm 
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The Matarazzo films are better and you really should just spend the weekend swimming in them.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 14, 2011 8:06 pm 
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knives wrote:
The Matarazzo films are better and you really should just spend the weekend swimming in them.

Swimming?
As in 'Cry Me A River'? :cry:
Just watched 'Chains': 'Il Tearjerker da tutti tearjerkers'!
Superbly crafted piece of work, though.
And I love those Italian tenor songs
(must see if there are any compilation cds available)


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2011 11:43 pm 
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knives wrote:
Of the three I've seen it is the weakest so don't worry on that front. Black Sun actually reminded me of Japanese Summer a little bit in how it is, so expect that sort of not necessarily great, but a lot to talk about vibe going in. I'll try to finish the other two this weekend.

I've just watched Black Sun, having skipped 'I Hate But Love' for the present.

Its certainly the best, and the most fully-realised, of the three films, I've watched to date although, due to the nature of the characters, and their difficulty in making each other understood, it was often a difficult watch. The cinematography was outstanding, and I noticed from the sleeve-notes that he used a Kiju Yoshida cinematographer, - I suspect the same cinematographer as on 'Bitter End of a Sweet Night', which is one of my very fave Yoshidas, - and I loved his use of the jazz music, both on the background soundtrack, and in various scenes.

Its funny with comparisons being made and Japanese Summer is a good one, but as they seemed to be getting more and more pissed off with each other, and Akira/Mei's delusions about black men and jazz were being shattered I was reminded of 'Breaking Away' and the way Dennis Christopher's delusions about Italian cyclists were shattered when he came to realise what total assholes they were.
Their relationship reminded me, to a certain extent, of 'Scarecrow'
And the ending reminded me of
[Reveal] Spoiler:
'The Red Balloon', maybe partly of 'Zazie Dans le Metro': there was something of a childlike innocence about Gill's wish to be set free, to allowed float away, freed from all his troubles

I've a feeling I'll be re-visiting this one: its some kind of Masterpiece, I guess


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2011 11:53 pm 
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Can't wait until you get to Thirst for Love which cranks up many of Black Sun's best and worst qualities and it's no wonder why he got fired for it. As for Black Sun though, different cinematographer (Toichiro Narushima for your guess). What you said also reminds me of The Wizard of Oz which is appropriate I suppose. I think there is one difference here to those films though in that it's not the child looking for escape in the traditional sense so much as him being so amazed at the potential of the world. It kind of reminds me of Down by Law. Both the communication problems and the innocence breeding horrible behavior seem intertwined.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 12:06 am 
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knives wrote:
Can't wait until you get to Thirst for Love which cranks up many of Black Sun's best and worst qualities and it's no wonder why he got fired for it. As for Black Sun though, different cinematographer (Toichiro Narushima for your guess). What you said also reminds me of The Wizard of Oz which is appropriate I suppose. I think there is one difference here to those films though in that it's not the child looking for escape in the traditional sense so much as him being so amazed at the potential of the world. It kind of reminds me of Down by Law. Both the communication problems and the innocence breeding horrible behavior seem intertwined.

Yep, those are two good cinematic references: I don't know about the wonder, though: wasn't it more that Gill didn't share Mei's idealisation of 'the black man', and with him being pursued by his own kind, he needed to be liberated?
Wanting to escape to the 'blue sea' would tend to confirm that, also.
'The Affair' was the Yoshida film that cinematographer, Mitsuji Kanau, worked on


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