“As Touch of Evil is to classical film noir, so Vengeance Is Mine is to the Japanese New Wave,” Slant Magazine’s Clayton Dillard wrote of Shôhei Imamura’s 1979 film, which arrived on Blu-ray from Criterion this week. “Each film retrospectively serves as the apotheosis for the style or movement, encapsulating many of the aims and concerns of films from the previous two decades into a singular, reflexive work.”
Catch-all terms like “New Wave” can be confusing, but in this case I’m referring to the cinematic movement in Japan during the late 1950s and into the ’70s. Comparisons to the familiar French New Wave period, which developed during the same time, are inevitable. And many Japanese New Wave filmmakers were influenced by directors such as François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard. But as author and editor David Desser wrote in his indispensable book Eros Plus Massacre (borrowing its title from the canon):
To see the Japanese New Wave as an imitation of the French New Wave fails to see the Japanese context out of which the movement arose. While the Japanese New Wave did draw benefits from the French New Wave, mainly in the form of a handy journalistic label which could be applied to it (the “nuberu bagu” from the Japanese pronunciation of the French term), it nevertheless possesses a high degree of integrity and specificity.
Here are a few essential titles that explore key themes from the Japanese New Wave movement.
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“I busied myself to think of a story,” wrote Mary Shelley in the preface of her classic novel Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus. “A story to rival those which had excited us to this task. One which would speak to the mysterious fears of our nature and awaken thrilling horror—one to make the reader dread to look round, to curdle the blood, and quicken the beatings of the heart.” Today marks the author’s 217th birthday. She is remembered most for her 1818 gothic tale, celebrated as one of the earliest science fiction works. Shelley’s story has inspired dozens of adaptations. We revisited a few of our favorites.
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Look, I know you get tired of hearing about it, but it’s true — it happens earlier and earlier, every single year. Why, it’s not even Labor Day yet, we’re still wearing age-inappropriate short pants, the kids are barely back in school, and already, four months before the big day… it’s time to start complaining about the War on Christmas. Can we just get put away the “Halloween is a Satanist celebration” protest signs first? Where are our priorities in this hopelessly paranoid, Christian conservative nation? Anyway, Kirk Cameron — remember him? The Growing Pains heartthrob whose warm, dreamy smile filled a thousand issues of Tiger Beat and as many late-‘80s junior high lockers, before he started railing about evolution and bananas and how gays are destroying civilization, and everyone sort of backed away from him slowly, like some kind of ranting, drooling homeless guy on the subway? Anyhoo, he’s made a fairly good living from the “faith-based” entertainment industry, so this week, he sat down with Glenn Beck’s The Blaze website, which in turn shared the trailer to his latest cinematic opus, Saving Christmas.
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We all know Bill Hader’s a funny guy; with the release this month of The Skeleton Twins and The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, he’s proving himself a pretty damn fine actor as well. But your film editor was heretofore unaware that Mr. Hader is such a movie geek — at least, that’s the impression I’m left with from his epic list of “200 Essential Movies Every Comedy Writer Should See.” It’s part of the new book Poking a Dead Frog by Mike Sachs, shared in full over at xoJane, and it’s a pretty remarkable (and esoteric) gathering of comedies and seriocomic dramas from the 1920s up to the present day. (And, I might add, there’s a good deal of crossover with our own list of the 50 Funniest Movies Ever Made.) So, with an eye on adding to your holiday weekend viewing queue, we combed through Netflix and Hulu Plus to see how many of Hader’s picks are available for your streaming needs. Links, and a few thoughts on his selections, after the jump.
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*Spoiler alert: This whole article is about the twists critics were asked not to talk about before the film was released. Proceed very carefully, knowing full well that if you haven’t seen The One I Love, you’re fucking yourself over.*
As Jason Bailey recently wrote, the final “twists” of The One I Love aren’t that twisty compared to its first major twist, which itself wouldn’t have been particularly twisty if the film had been marketed less opaquely. Aptly (and unavoidably) likened to Charlie-Kaufman-lite, The One I Love takes a fundamental but abstract element of human relationships and removes it from the realm of the abstract. What if the ideals we project onto the people we love (or are ceasing to love because they don’t match said ideals) actually coalesced to form entirely different people? This is the fundamental question of the film, at least until it begins branching off into another, more convoluted, pseudo-twisty (yet more interesting?) question towards its end.
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So the good folks over at the Daily Beast sat down with David Lynch for a nice… Read More
Jon Stewart’s directorial debut, Rosewater – while allegedly a straightforward adaptation of a memoir by Maziar Bahari (a journalist/human rights activist… Read More
The Labor Day weekend doesn’t begin until end of day tomorrow, but c’mon, who’re we kidding — you’ve already checked out for the week, and it’s time to start making plans. And while we know some of you (shudder) sociable types will be heading out to lakes and barbeques and such destinations to enjoy the end of another summer, we’re catering (as usual) to the shut-ins, who’re taking the three day holiday weekend to catch up on some long-delayed nothing-doing. So here are a few of the recent(ish) additions to Netflix and Amazon Prime to add to your holiday weekend viewing lists; just click the title link to watch them right now.
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For their second feature, directors Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani have followed their mesmerizing and seductive debut, Amer, with another glowing tribute to the gialli — the stylish Italian thrillers of the ‘60s and ‘70s. A film festival favorite, The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears makes its theatrical debut at the IFC Center August 29. Set inside a labyrinthine Art Nouveau apartment building, the film follows a businessman as he searches for his missing wife. “Soon traditional narrative dissolves into mise en abyme in this kaleidoscopic and vertiginous adventure in sound and image, sadism and eroticism, and the real and the imagined,” writes New Directors/New Films. The movie’s surreal landscape inspired an exploration of other films that use interior space in strange, fantastical ways.
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