Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Japan

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Guro Taku
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Re: Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Japan

Unread post by Guro Taku » 31 Jan 2018, 19:42

HungFist wrote:Image
So you weren't the only white dude in the theater?

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Re: Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Japan

Unread post by HungFist » 31 Jan 2018, 23:41

Guro Taku wrote:
HungFist wrote:Image
So you weren't the only white dude in the theater?
I was as far as I know. I think the photo is just making some people's skin glow whiter that it should...

I did see one gaijin at the Shogoro Nishimura screenings, though.

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Re: Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Japan

Unread post by HungFist » 25 May 2018, 16:28

Tokyo programmers have a major boner for Meika Seri. There's a retrospective for her, this time in Shin Bungeiza, and it's the third Seri retro in in 4 years.

2014: Meika Seri retrospective in Laputa Asagaya (Tokyo)
2016: Meika Seri retrospective in Cinema Vera (Tokyo)
2018: Meika Seri retrospective in Shin bungeiza(Tokyo)

Too bad I can't be there this time. Kumashiro's Failed Youth is included in the program... been wanting to see that for ages.
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- http://www.shin-bungeiza.com/pdf/20180524.pdf

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Re: Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Japan

Unread post by HungFist » 20 Jun 2018, 14:27

Meiko Kaji Film Festival in Shin Bungeiza

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Full report in the Female Prisoner Scorpion thread:
http://www.bulletsnbabesdvd.com/forums/ ... 43#p179643

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Re: Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Japan

Unread post by HungFist » 25 Jun 2018, 16:59

While I was in Tokyo, I also found time to drop by in Jinbocho Theater for Japanese 1970s retrospective. I don't know how to translate the title (七〇年代の憂鬱 退廃と情熱の映画史) well but basically the focus was on socially aware films mirroring the new gloomier era.

The program is quite excellent with titles like Tanaka's Secret Chronicle: She Beast Market (1974), Kumashiro's Africa's Light (1975), Fukasaku's Cops vs. Thugs (1975), Terayama's The Boxer (1977), Hasegawa's The Man Who Stole the Sun (1979), and more, all in 35mm except Sachiko no sachi. I only had a chance to see two titles, Sadao Nakajima's Aesthetics of a Bullet (1973) (my second time in 35mm) and Toshiya Fujita's Did the Red Bird Escape (1975).

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Aesthetics of a Bullet is a well done tale of a miserable wanna-be gangster (Tsunehiko Watase) getting his change act big while he's actually just being used by big shots. It was an ATG film made by Toei director and cast, and feels exactly that. Also features fantastic theme song and Miki Sugimoto is a supporting role.

Did the Red Bird Escape is a pretty fantastic "70s depression" zeitgeist about two small time goons (Yoshio Harada, Masaaki Daimon) and a girl (Kaori Momoi) living together and trying to make money with frauds and blackmails. The film is a bit of a slow burner, but the cast is great, Momoi spends half of the movie topless, cinematographer Tatsuo Suzuki does terric job and director Fujita was at his element with this kind of material. The 35mm print was so amazing it nearly blew my brain out.

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Other pics

Africa's Light and The Boxer
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Ryoma Ansatsu and Cops. vs. Thugs
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Zeni geba, Take Care,Red Riding Hood, Sachiko no sachi
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Re: Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Japan

Unread post by HungFist » 26 Sep 2018, 14:39

Went to rent some dvds from Tsutaya (Japan's biggest rental store chain) today and this caught my eye.

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The Rapeman 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7... the whole series that is.

God bless Japan :cool:

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Re: Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Japan

Unread post by Guro Taku » 26 Sep 2018, 15:25

There is also an anime:

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Directed by "Kinta Kunte". The entire franchise is based on a 13 volume manga series.

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Re: Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Japan

Unread post by HungFist » 30 Sep 2018, 13:24

A friend of mine just attended this last night in Tokyo:

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Battles Without Honor and Humanity all night. All 5 films back to back in 35mm, from 8:20 pm to 6 am.

Couldn't afford a Tokyo trip myself this time as I needed to save money... all the Lone Wolf and Cub films are gonna be on screen in 35mm from next month.

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Re: Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Japan

Unread post by HungFist » 21 Nov 2018, 15:12

In search of a Lone Wolf

It is no secret that Laputa Asagaya is my favorite movie theatre in Tokyo. I also love the Asagaya district. I was walking the streets one day and spotted something interesting:

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What's that, you ask? Could it be that Laputa Asagaya is running a Lone Wolf and Cub retrospective?

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Lone Wolf isn't the only thing on screen. This ad attached to a restaurant wall is for Toei Literature Adaptations retrospective in Laputa.

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We have found the treatre

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Let's get inside. Oh yes! Babycart at River Styx!

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Babycart in Peril

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Fast forward a few weeks to another night: White Heaven in Hell

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I watched Babycart to Hades, Babycart in Peril and White Heaven in Hell (actually it took two Tokyo trips to do that). I had already seen Sword of Vengeance and Babycart at River Styx in National Film Archive, and Babycart in the Land of Demons in Jinbocho Cinema before. Which means I have now seen them all in glorious 35mm! Life goal achieved. What a blast it was!

http://www.laputa-jp.com/laputa/program ... f_and_cub/

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Re: Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Japan

Unread post by HungFist » 22 Nov 2018, 14:11

Of course Lone Wolf was not the only thing I saw in Laputa Asagaya. I went there early in the morning to catch the entertaining 1957 Toho thriller The Decoy with Ryo Ikebe using his wife as a decoy to catch escaped prisoner Makoto Sato.

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I also re-watched the Koji Tsuruta ninkyo film Dragon’s Life (1964), which features Sonny Chiba and Junko Fuji in supporting roles as brother and sister, in the Toei Literature series.

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I did not have time for other films, but here are some photos

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Gotta love the curry plate under the film poster for “Curry Rice”.

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They just started a 20 year celebration program screening some of the films they have shown in the past two decades. Here are some old chirashi ads for their programs

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Re: Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Japan

Unread post by HungFist » 24 Nov 2018, 14:38

Also on my travels I stopped by in Cinema Vera. Unfortunately they no longer play double features. That beautiful, traditional system came to its end last summer. What we get now is a set of 5 or 6 films played every day in different order for a week. The prices went up as well as now you have to a separate buy ticket to each film. The programming is still the same, a mix of JP and foreign film retrospectives, with JP programs mainly 35mm and foreign mostly digital.

Also I need to mention that the projection quality is not as good as it used to be. A few years ago they started projecting films with brighter image which causes weaker blacks and weaker colors. I don't know if that's to do with the projector lamp or what, but the difference is clear when you compare to Laputa Asagaya, Shin Bungeiza, Film Archive etc.

That being said, it's still very much worth visiting for the program and film prints. This time they were playing Toei Ninkyo Yakuza series with a focus on lesser known films (no Red Peonies or Brutal Tales in the program). I caught the rare and entertaining if unexceptional Ken Takakura / Sonny Chiba modern day ninkyo tale Violent Street (1963), the messy Toei-turns-Zatoichi-into-an-Osaka-punk Blind Monk Swordsman (1964) that only woke my up from a come when a woman ran through the screen with her boobs out, and the enjoyable Koji Tsuruta epic Theater of Life - New Hishakaku Story (1964).

Vera's chirashi / retrospective poster art is consistently great!
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A set of Gambling Den posters
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Violent Street (right) and Blind Monk Swordsman (left)
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http://www.cinemavera.com/preview.php?no=216

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Re: Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Japan

Unread post by HungFist » 12 May 2019, 08:14

HungFist wrote:
26 Sep 2018, 14:39
Went to rent some dvds from Tsutaya (Japan's biggest rental store chain) today and this caught my eye.

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The Rapeman 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7... the whole series that is.

God bless Japan :cool:
Yesterday I visited the biggest rental store in town, and I was “delighted” to see Faces of Death 1-5 DVD set there. And it was one fucking 5 disc rental set, you gotta take ‘em all at once if you want them!

I would never even consider seeing any of them (zero interest in real gore), but there is a certain fascination toward the historical/commercial/social context of them existing in a highly commercial form and people having lined up to see them. For some concrete facts, in Japanese theatres Snuff ranked 10 and Cannibal Holocaust 8 in 1976 and 1983 respectively (non-Japanese movies box office).

I have similar feelings towards some of the more honest pink cinema, which is an easier topic from moral perspective since no one was raped for real. For Japan to have produced nearly 200 theatrical films titled “Molester’s Train”…

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Re: Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Japan

Unread post by HungFist » 23 May 2019, 17:53

Kinji Fukasaku retrospective at National Film Archive

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46 films, all in 35mm, plus two TV episodes in 16mm.
- https://www.nfaj.go.jp/exhibition/fukasaku201903/

Managed to drop by for a few screenings... Legend of the Eight Samurai, Bloodstained Clan Honor, Shanghai Rhapsody, Violent Panic: The Big Crash, and Hokuriku Proxy War. Also wanted to re-watch Graveyard of Honor but went to Laputa to see No Pants Nurses instead. That was a mistake...

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The Bloodstained Clan Honor (血染の代紋 ) (1970) poster is a strange one, with Tomisaburo Wakayama and Junko Fuji depicted AND credited (as 3rd and 4th billed). But neither one of them are actually in the film!
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(There’s a disclaimer saying something like “You can’t take photos of the posters, however, you can take photos if they feature people in them”. At first I was going gave my friend stand at the side in each photo and crop him out later… but then I realized everyone was taking photos and no one, not even the staff, cared. So I dared to take a few quick shots. I’m sure the disclaimer is some legal formality (other theatres in Tokyo don’t have such).

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Re: Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Japan

Unread post by HungFist » 01 Jun 2019, 14:08

I also briefly visited Laputa Asagaya's Kinnosuke Nakamura retrospective.
- http://www.laputa-jp.com/laputa/program ... e_matsuri/

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This was a typically massive retro with 35 films (all 35mm of course, Laputa always screens films in their original screening format). I only had time to catch two films, Hideo Gosha's Tange Sazen film The Secret of the Urn (丹下左膳 飛燕居合斬り) (1966), which was weaker and duller than I recalled, and the very enjoyable matatabi/ninkyo yakuza tale Tokijiro Kutsukake: Lone Yakuza (沓掛時次郎 遊侠一匹) (1966). Both screened from beautiful prints.

Tokijiro Kutsukake: Lone Yakuza
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Tokijiro Kutsukake: Lone Yakuza
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The Secret of the Urn
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The Secret of the Urn + other Nakamura films
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I also caught Pink Salon Hospital: No Pants Nurses (ピンサロ病院 ノーパン白衣) (1997) in the late show where Laputa is screening their 3rd Shintoho Last Film Show series (the title is supposed to mean that this is probably the last time you get to see those films from 35mm prints since pink cinemas have gone digital... the ones that haven't gone out of business already, and there is little interest in these films among other theatre programmers).

- http://www.laputa-jp.com/laputa/program/shintoho-pink3/

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I actually sacrificed Film Archive's Graveyard of Honor (1975) screening (that would have been the 2nd time for me, the 1st was in 2014 in Laputa) to see No Pants, and I sort of wish I hadn't. The film is bordering on AV with nonstop sex dullness. Director Sachi Hamano (real name Sachiko, she dropped the feminine ko to hide her gender), one of the few female pink directors. It doesn't really show; I and a friend tried to come up with anything in the film that would distinguish it from the male helmed pinks till he finally said “the women are active in taking their own pants off”. Hmm, maybe. Released in the US by Pink Eiga as “Whore Hospital”.

One of the more interesting films included in the series is Sexy Battle Girls (1986). Being a 35mm print, it should (hopefully, though not necessarily) have all the music stolen from Sukeban Deka (the film is a parody / rip off of Sukeban Deka II: Legend of the Girl in Iron Mask) intact. The US DVD by Pink Eiga has all the music removed and replaced because copyrights were invented sometime after the film was made.

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Re: Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Japan

Unread post by HungFist » 09 Jun 2019, 15:55

I’m not that much of a kaiju fan, but since I was in Tokyo for Fukasaku, I also went to see a couple of Mothra films in 35mm.

The films were playing in Ikebukuro at Shin bungeiza, who have the biggest screen out there for 35mm screenings, and excellent seats. The program is nearly always double features, meaning the same two films played back to back from morning to night. The day I visited they were screening Mothra (1961) and Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964).

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It took quite a bit of effort to fit both into my schedule, since I also wanted to see Tokijiro Kutsukake: Lone Yakuza at Laputa Asagaya, and Hokuriku Proxy War at the Film Archive at Kyobashi, all of which are located at opposite sides of central Tokyo. At first I thought it’d be impossible, but after a careful examination and managed to come up with a plan that involved running, strategic choice of trains, and zero error margin.

9:45 Mothra vs. Godzilla (Shin bungeiza / Ikebukuro)
13:00 Tokijiro Kutsukake: Lone Yakuza (Laputa / Asagaya) (91min, finish at 14:31)
-------- Rush to Asagaya Station (8 min)
14:39 Take Chuo Line Rapid train to Shinjuku
14:48 Arrive Shinjuku Station (Track 8), transfer to JR Saikyo Line (Track 3)
14:51 JR Saikyo Line Local Train to Ikebukuro
14:57 Arrive Ikebukuro Station
-------- Run to the theatre (8 min)
15:05 Mothra (Shin bungeiza / Ikebukuro)
19:00 Hokuriku Proxy War (Film Archive/ Kyobashi)

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As I said, I'm not a huge kaiju fan, but I quite enjoyed seeing Mothra projected from a beautiful 35mm print. It's got nice adventure touch, lavish colour cinematography, Frankie Chan makes a sympathetic lead, Peanuts are Peanuts and Osman Yusuf gets another gaijin henchman role. Better than Mothra vs. Godzilla, which suffers from the usual dull story and characters, though the monster fights are good and the film is one of the better Godzillas IMO.

Ad for upcoming Yuya Uchida retro which I missed (which made me want to hang myself, thankfully I don't own a rope).

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Re: Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Japan

Unread post by HungFist » 05 Sep 2019, 13:36

I dropped by in Tokyo for some extreme movie watching again last week.

First up was a race Jimbocho Theater, with first screening at 12:00. I had booked an early as motherfucker flight, only for it to be 30 min late. I missed the cheap Keisei train as a result, and had to ride an expensive Narita Express... which was also late because of some "trouble" (probably train suicide). Finally arriving Ueno, I made a desperate run to the metro even though I was one train behind my schedule, only for the train doors close right in front of my face.

With Plan A and Plan B down the sewer, I improvised a taxi drive to Jimbo. The driver didn't know where the theater was so I just told him to drop me off at the station, and proceeded to talk about Tsunehiko Watase and Etsuko Shihomi with him for 15 min. Finally I did a 300m run to the theatre and sat down 11:59!

I was wondering if it was worth it at all, the film in question being Crazed Beast (1976), which I hated when I fist saw it on DVD. This time I enjoyed it almost thoroughly, seeing it as the amusing action farce it is, rather than the action thriller I expected upon my first viewing. Favorite line in the film (an old woman to scared children in a hijacked bus): "Don't worry, that uncle will be caught and get death penalty".

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Jimbocho is not a theatre I visit awfully often because they focus on 50s and 60s dramas, comedies and musicals, but this time they had a dynamite program: Japanese Hot-Blooded Men 2 (にっぽんのアツい男たち2, which I'd love to translate as Japanese Hot Guys 2! :lol: ).
- https://www.shogakukan.co.jp/jinbocho-t ... ml#movie01

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Battles Without Honor and Humanity
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Misumi and Katsu's Tomuraishi tachi (1968), Oshima's Cruel Story of Youth (1960)
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Lost Love (1978) and The Mosquito on the Tenth Floor (1983)
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Kumashiro double: Africa's Light, which I saw in Jimbo a few years ago, and Failed Youth (1974)
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I finally got to see Failed Youth after missing it so many times. I plays in Tokyo in 35mm at least once every year. Below is my mini review:

Failed Youth (青春の蹉跌) (Japan, 1974) [35mm] – 4.5/5
Tatsumi Kumashiro's legendary youth film. This was his first movie for Toho, a departure from Roman Porno. The politically conscious script by Kazuhiko Hasegawa (The Youth Killer, The Man Who Stole the Sun) follows indecisive university student Ken'ichi Hagiwara and hopelessly in love younger girlfriend Kaori Momoi in the midst of young confusion, violent student radicalism and an era where modern and traditional clashed. It's a slow-burner, but excellently acted by Hagiwara and Momoi (also look out for Meika Seri as a street beggar) and filmed with loads of meaningful long takes, including an amazing love scene in the snowy mountains near the end. And the score is just beautiful! Kumashiro's masterpiece, no doubt! The film's obscurity shows just how little Toho cares for their own catalogue titles: chosen by the nation's best known film journal Kinema Junpo as the 21st best Japanese film ever made, Toho has not even bothered putting the film out on DVD (though it’s finally coming in December 2019).

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I also caught The Mosquito on the Tenth Floor (1983), which I still thought was a pretty dull and boring life-is-shit picture despite a convincing Yuya Uchida performance as a policeman in debt (to the bank, not the yakuza, unfortunately), and the much more fun, if messy action epic Resurrection of the Golden Wolf (1979), which is my favorite Yusaku Matsuda film.

Some of the other films in the 16 movie program (all 35mm) included Kitano's Sonatine, Gosha's Four Days of Snow and Blood, Suzuki's Fighting Elegy and Ichikawa's The Wanderers.

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Re: Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Japan

Unread post by HungFist » 08 Sep 2019, 08:43

My adventure continued in the afternoon. I headed to National Film Archive who were celebrating dead people with their once-in-two-years R.I.P. retrospective (no, it’s not really called that, but that’s what I call it). It was a massive series with mostly two films per corpse, approx 80 flicks in total.

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The film I went for was The War of the 16 Year Olds, a lesser known film by Toshio Matsumoto. I haven’t seen any of his films so I wasn’t sure if I was making the right choice, especially since I was sacrificing a Tetsuya Watari Nikkatsu Action flick (The Judgement of Youth, 1964) at Jimbocho…

Well, the gamble paid off big time: The War of the 16 Year Olds was bloody excellent!

The War of the Sixteen Year Olds (十六歳の戦争) (Japan, 1973/1976) [35mm] – 4/5
Funeral Parade of Roses director Toshio Matsuda's bloody excellent youth film set in rural Japan. This has one of the best opening scenes I've seen since Kiyoshi Nishimura's Too Young to Die (1969), with a young man arriving a town, and falling in love with a 16 year old girl as they watch the police pull two dead bodies from a river, all against a great rock song (the film's soundtrack is absolutely stunning!). Pure cinema! The film then follows their relationship as WWII traumas begin to surface in the town and lead the film down a far darker - and ambiguous - path. There are some jarring cuts and imperfections that make the film no less fascinating, and an amusingly gratuitous topless scene for Akiyoshi who looked pretty stunning at 19. Filmed independently in 1973, but not released until 1976. This became instantly of one my favourite 70s youth films!

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(the film is also available on Japanese DVD, but long OOP and incredibly expensive... 15 000 yen at Amazon right now)

There was no poster for The War of the 16 Year Olds, but here are photos of some other posters from the screening series that NFA had decorated their walls with.

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Before someone panics, no, Shihomi is not dead!
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Oh, and my visit to a convince store lead to the second brief Etsuko Shihomi discussion of the day (the 1st one was in the taxi / see previous post). The reason: I was wearing my beloved Return of the Sister Street Fighter T-shirt, and the old guy behind the counter recognized her!

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Re: Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Japan

Unread post by HungFist » 13 Sep 2019, 10:28

Tokyo is screening Failed Youth this year like it's the end of the world. Shin bungeiza just announced they will be screening it a dozen times next month in a Kazuhiko Hasegawa appreciation, following Jimbocho's 1 week run (the Saturday screening I attended sold out 25 minutes before the screening, btw) and two showings in National Film Center's R.I.P. series...

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Re: Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Japan

Unread post by HungFist » 17 Sep 2019, 18:48

Continued…

As the day was turning into a night, I headed for my final destination, Shin bungeiza, who were doing a brief 6 film Zatoichi series. The double features were:

The Tale of Zatoichi (1962) (DCP)
Zatoichi and the Chess Expert (1965) (35mm)

Zatoichi Challenged (1967) (35mm)
Zatoichi Meets the One-Armed Swordsman (1971) (35mm)

Zatoichi (1989) (35mm)
Zatoichi (2003) (35mm)

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A slightly disappointing program for me, as I had already seen Zatoichi Challenged in 35mm, The Tale of Zatoichi was a DCP (rendering it useless), and Kitano’s Zatoichi is not worth re-watching anyway. That only left Zatoichi and the Chess Expert, one of my favourites but it played before I got to Tokyo, Zatoichi (1989), which I wanted to re-watch but it overlapped with Failed Youth and Resurrection of the Golden Wolf, and Zatoichi Meets the One-Armed Swordsman which I did see. An alright film, but pitting genre legends Katsu and Wang Yu against each other on the excuse of language barrier and cultural miscommunication was just lame. There was potential for more.

Also, while the 35mm print looked good, it had the same shrill, hard-on-the-ears sound I remember was on the old Animeigo DVD. A fair few of their DVDs had similar issues, e.g. Lady Snowblood and some of the Lone Wolves, but this was the first time I came across the same in a 35mm screening although I’ve seen all the fore-mentioned films in 35mm.

A good friend of mine was supposed to join me for Zatoichi Meets the One-Armed Swordsman but got “stuck in the train, cannot get out because some dumbass pushed the emergency stop button”. So he made it to the late screening only, which was…

A Rutger Hauer memorial. The night’s film was the excellent Salute of the Jugger (1989), which I saw for the first time and had a blast with. It was a BD screening, and while I normally wouldn’t pay for such, this time it wasn’t about presentation, it was about being there and now, remembering Rutger Hauer! And while it was a BD screening, the print on the disc looked like an early DVD transfer which nevertheless was not entirely unfit for a film of this nature!

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Ads for upcoming programs, including a Battles without Honor and Humanity all night marathon... they had this last year as well.
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We closed the night with some beef, fish and Dutch beer in a nearby Ikebukuro restaurant. It was the annual shared birthday party for us. I gave away my French Cat Girl Gambling BD set away as birthday present, and received some Japanese boobs book, as typical (last year it was a ‘visual guide to breast sizes’, and the year before that ‘Mana Sakura Nude Photo Book’).

The following day I’ve already mostly covered in an earlier post. I went back to Jimbocho for Failed Youth, Resurrection of the Golden Wolf and The Mosquito on the Tenth Floor, before heading back to the airport. I had the usual by-the-minute schedule to make it to my flight. I had to rush out of Mosquito the second it ended, and I still missed my sub because I had been looking at a weekday schedule by accident though it was Saturday! As a result I needed to make Hibiya-Yurakucho transfer (500 metres + the ticket purchasing hassle and boarding the next train) in 5 minutes, which by some miracle I did! Etsuko got all wet in the process, but thankfully I had a clean shirt in the bag. I reached the airport 9 min before the check-in closed!

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Re: Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Japan

Unread post by HungFist » 23 Sep 2019, 16:04

A pretty great Toho New Action series coming up at Laputa. Dying to see Attack on the Sun (1970) and The Target of Roses (1972) by Kiyoshi Nishimura. And maybe Bullet Wound as well. The others I've seen.

The whole program:

11/09(土)~11/15(金) 「狙撃」(Sun Above, Death Below) (Hideichi Nagahara, 1968)
11/16(土)~11/25(月) 「弾痕」(Bullet Wound) (Hideichi Nagahara, 1969)
11/26(火)~12/02(月) 「白昼の襲撃」(Attack on the Sun) (Kiyoshi Nishimura, 1970)
12/03(火)~12/12(木) 「豹(ジャガー)は走った」(The Creature Called Man) ()Kiyoshi Nishimura, 1970)
12/13(金)~12/19(木) 「野獣都市」(City of Beasts) (Jun Fukuda, 1970)
12/20(金)~12/26(木) 「ヘアピン・サーカス」 (Hairpin Circus) (Kiyoshi Nishimura, 1972)
1/06(月)~1/12(日) 「薔薇の標的」(Target of Roses) (Kiyoshi Nishimura, 1972)
1/13(月)~1/19(日) 「野獣狩り」(Beast Hunt) (Eizo Sugawa, 1973)

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Hairpin Circus
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The Creature Called Man
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