In his prolific and much-lauded career, Toshiro Mifune worked with director Hiroshi Inagaki even more often than he did with his more celebrated collaborator Akira Kurosawa — the best-known product of these collaborations is the Miyamoto Musashi trilogy, with Mifune playing the title character. Working for the Toho studio, Inagaki was a very well-respected writer/director during the 1950s and 60s with a bit of a specialisation in period action films: his Musashi films and his version of The 47 Ronin… (read more)
Fans of Japanese cinema and excellent cinema in general should be no strangers to the works of Akira Kurosawa. Regular readers will have seen me (and others here, too!) swoon and spout hyperbole over many of his films. With good reason, mind you — many of them have become fixtures in critics’ lists of top films: action masterpiece The Seven Samurai, lone samurai classics Yojimbo and Sanjuro, study in truth Rashomon and the colour-drenched epic Ran in particular.
Shamelessly, … (read more)
Naniwa Elegy, or, as many know it, Osaka Elegy is often cited as Kenji Mizoguchi’s first real masterpiece. It won the Kinema Jumpo in 1936 as Japan’s third best film, and marks the first collaboration between Mizoguchi and his long time screen writer Yoshikata Yoda.
Naniwa Elegy is a bitter film. There is no other way to suitably describe it, especially in terms of its narrative effect. The story looks at Ayako Murai (played by Isuzu Yamada), a young … (read more)