Things I Like: Japanese Directors

At work we got into a discussion about all things Japanese film because the night before we had screened Ozu’s GOOD MORNING. One staff member was Not an Ozu fan and we tried to persuade her of his merits, and of the need to see more than two of his films to make that decision. But, that said, although I had recently watched one of my Ozu favs, LATE SPRING, Ozu is not first on my list of Japanese Directors. I create such a list below with my favorite director Mizoguchi, at the top and the rest I would place on a flat plane together. But as this blog has a vertical nature, so you’ll have to imagine that.

-Kenji Mizoguchi: My absolute favorite director with among others his THE STORY OF LAST CHRYSANTHEMUMS, SANCHO THE BAILIFF, UGETSU, and STREETS OF SHAME. I just watched the terrific doc, Kenji Mizoguchi: The Life of a Film Director (1975) by Kaneto Shindo, which came with the Criterion UGETSU DVD.

-Shohei Imamura: VENGENANGE IS MINE blew my mind. Ken Ogata is a masterful actor and the wild story line is breath taking. To see his range, check out Ogata in another, very different work, a period piece: Imamura’s BALLAD OF NARAYAMA. (I was inspired to cover this topic because I just read Steve Dollar’s Green Cine piece on the Criterion release of a three part DVD collection of Imamura’s works entitled PIGS, PIMPS AND PROSTITUTES. Here’s Dollar’s piece: http://daily.greencine.com/archives/007465.html)

– Akira Kurosawa: Among my favs are THRONE OF BLOOD, HIGH AND LOW, YOJIMBO, and IKIRU.

-Hiroshi Teshigahara: WOMAN IN THE DUNES is mind boggling. The book by Kobo Abe is a wonder too.

-Tomu Uchida:  THE MAD FOX is a must see film with its surreal, stunningly colorful, theatrical dream-like sequences. Because Uchida is not as known in the U.S. to read more about his work, please go to Senses of Cinema: http://archive.sensesofcinema.com/contents/directors/05/uchida.html

-Yasujiro Ozu: LATE SPRING is my favorite at the moment, with the dreamy and luminescent Ozu regulars Setsuko Hara–as Noriko, the dutiful and loving daughter who doesn’t want to marry, as she loves caring for her Father–and Chishu Ryu, who plays him as a gentle and caring counterpart to Hara.

-Mikio Naruse: FLOATING CLOUDS is the only film by Naruse that I’ve seen–and it was wonderful. I need to watch more.

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