Wild Japan - the wildest films you'll see this year
7th Oct 06
Oh lordy. If you’re a fan of the nuttier aspects of Japanese Cinema (and if you aren’t – why not?) then Christmas has come early.
From November 3rd (until Nov 30th) the NFT in London is set to screen twelve of the most audacious, insane Japanese cult classics from the 60s and 70s in a month long retrospective called (appropriately enough) Wild Japan.
Throughout these two decades, the Japanese film industry enjoyed a period of incredible invention. Some of the films from this decade are truly visionary – combining a mastery of film technique, a thrilling stylistic sensibility and a jaw dropping disregard for social convention. Due to their extreme, outlandish content most of them remain unknown in the West to all but a small selection of warped film fans.
While essentially genre pics, many of them are truly subversive works of art that rally against the social restrictions of the time and culture. The content – sometimes highly sexual, always visceral and often political – is often extreme and challenging. There are films of immense aesthetic beauty (Seijun Suzuki’s gangster-jazz flick Branded to Kill) cruel misanthropy (Female Convict Scorpion) and high-octane violence (Fukasaku’s ferocious Yakuza Graveyard).
While a few of the titles have been available on DVD for some time the opportunity to see these incredible films on a UK cinema screens, and in tasty new prints, is quite frankly too good to miss.
This is surely one of the events of the year for fans of the incredibly strange and our advice is to get these tickets soon – and fast – as they are sure to be a sell out.
The full line up is below. We haven’t seen all of them but we can highly recommend Branded, Female, and Holy Beast. As for Hausu – see you in the queue!!
Full line-up below;
Branded to Kill Seijen Suzuki’s pop art gangster flick got him fired from the Nikkatsu studio house that hired him. 30 years on it’s considered a masterpiece. Go figure.
Female Convict Scorpion The real Lady Vengeance. One of the key Japanese works of the 70s – a surreal and brutal revenge flick that is beautifully shot and as cruel as they come.
Funeral parade of roses / bara no soretsu Freaky deaky. A hip 60s beat classic that predates Clockwork Orange in its visual sensibility.
Hausu Much excitement around this one. Described as a cross between Beetlejuice, the Evil Dead and key period Argento (!) and set in a creepy old dark house.
Jigoku Translates as ‘Hell ’. A ‘lost classic’ of Japanese horror from Nobuo Nakagawa, one of the masters of the genre - almost unknown in the West.
Pale Flower An intimate gambling flick set in Tokyo’s illicit gambling dens – a funky Japanese New-Wave influence gem (apparently – we haven’t seen this one)
School of the Holy Beast Nun-based mentalism distilled into 90 or so minutes of drugs, sex, comedy, flagellation, horror and political commentary. Wild Japan indeed!
Stray Cat Rock Sex Hunter Girl gangs, Japanese mods, Yakuzas, knife fights, psychedelic music. What the hell more do you want?. And hey – what a title!
Sword of Doom Reckoned by connoisseurs to be one of the most powerful and disturbing samurai epics ever made. Again EMB can only wait and wonder…
The Great Melee Another crazy Samurai flick.
Yakuza graveyard Oh mama. Tougher than concrete. Kenji (Battle Royale) Fukasaku’s hand to mouth Yakuza classic redefined the genre and honed his visceral style. An undercover cop infiltrates – and is seduced by – the yakuza lifestyle.
Zatoichi the fugitive Enjoyed the recent ‘Beat’ Takeshi Zatoichi sword flick? Check out the fourth entry in the series that spawned over 25 sequels.
EMB fans annoyed at the London-centric nature of these events take heart. The Wild Japan season will be touring the Filmhouse Edinburgh & GFT (Glasgow) in late November / December and Watershed (Bristol) / Showroom (Sheffield) / Irish Film Institute (Dublin) in early 2007.