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PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2014 1:26 am 
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Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2004 12:20 pm
AKA Sasuke and His Comedians / Tale of the Sanada Family

This film, directed by Tai Kato in 1963, gets an interesting capsule review from Tony Rayns in the Timeout Film Guide. But I can't find it anywhere, like it was never released on home video in any form. I mean, really? A Kinnosuke Nakamura/Mickey Curtis counterculture ninja musical?

Has anybody seen this movie? Is this thing out on dvd or anything? It's one of my holy grails of elusive movies.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2014 5:00 am 
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Joined: Tue May 30, 2006 9:45 pm
Location: Portland, OR
I did a little research on Tai Kato for the '60s project (I originally planned on writing him and a few other Japanese directors up), and I recall this being among the missing.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2014 5:07 pm 
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Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2004 12:20 pm
I see on the net that there are prints of it at screening events, but there seems to be no other way of seeing the film than to just be lucky and be near a screening.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 13, 2014 8:17 am 
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Joined: Tue May 30, 2006 9:45 pm
Location: Portland, OR
Oh, I'm not suggesting it's lost, just that there's no trace of it outside catching it at a theatrical screening.

I don't know how up you are on his work, but he does have several interesting films available. I, the Executioner made my '60s list, and is a perverse psychosexual thriller, a "mainstream" film delving into the type of subject matter typically associated with ATG or Koji Wakamatsu. Cruel Story at the End of the Tokugawa Shogunate is one of the great cruel jidaigeki of the period, highly critical of both samurai ideals and militarism (and quite possibly responsible for the sub-genre's name). I've been waiting to make a proper survey of the traditional Yakuza-eiga, but both Blood of Revenge and Red Peony Gambler: Flower Cards Match are considered at the top of the genre. Paul Schrader even pegged the latter as the best of the genre... although he flipped-flopped a few times on that title.

A Man's Face Shows His Personal History is the film of his I'm dying to track down. From Bam/Pfa:
Quote:
Real-life yakuza turned actor Noboru Ando, whose hauntingly scarred countenance was the basis for the film's title, dominates this warped vision of postwar Japan, Kato's first contemporary drama. Immigrant gangs terrorize a Japanese town with their threats, loud jazz, and tasteless fashion sense, and only the tough but suave Dr. Amamiya (Ando) can stop them, as long as he gets rid of his silly peace-loving ideals. Told in a flashback, as Amamiya prepares to operate on the honorable Korean yakuza who befriended him, the film hops wildly from present to past to future, creating a far more fascinating mosaic of violence and memory than its simplistic narrative suggests. Veering from stately realism to hyperstylized action and melodramatic love scenes, the film constructs a wondrously memorable, fragmented history of a man, and Japan, out of the disparate cinematic shards of cruelty, jazz, and tears


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 13, 2014 5:50 pm 
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Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2004 12:20 pm
A Man's Face sounds amazing! It sounds like Kato had an initially conventional career, which was galvanized by the counterculture into something much more interesting? I'd like to see that.

I really enjoy Noboru Ando in so many films. I like that he keeps his cool and doesn't try to ham his way through so many potentially melodramatic movies. I like his performance in The Violent Streets enough to watch the film again and again. I've often thought that Ando would have been several shades better than Ken Takakura in Too Late the Hero. While Takakura was so reasonable and measured in the role, Ando could have added just the right amount of disquiet to the part; Ando could have suggested the insanity behind any sort of "logic" in war. At any rate, every Ando performance I've seen merited attention.


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