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Tokyo Psycho
[Tokyo densetsu: ugomeku machi no kyoki]

Genre: Fact-Based Psycho Thriller

review in one breath

First, Yumiko begins receiving very creepy love letters from a secret admirer. Then, her closest friends begin disappearing. All clues point toward Mikariya, a former classmate who allegedly killed his family but was deemed criminally insane. And now Mikariya is back, intent on making Yumiko his bride. From the director of Tomie, this film is based on true infamous crimes in Japan, and depicts an amazingly twisted Tokyo psycho!



Kichiku Dai Enkai
[Banquet of the Beasts]

Genre: Extreme Youth Political Violence

review in one breath

In 1972, a small group of students affiliated with the Allied Red Army (Renge Sekigun) held a hostage in the mountain village of Karuizawa in Nagano-ken (Japan). The stand-off and ensuing battle between the student revolutionaries and the police were broadcast live into Japanese living rooms via intense television coverage. When the police finally overcame the leftist radicals, they found that the small group had violently turned upon themselves, committing brutal murders in order to purge themselves of those not fully committed to the path they had taken. This infamous scenario became known as the Asama Sanso Incident (Asama is the name of the mountain there) and is generally viewed as the collapse of the New Left student movement of the 1970's.



Inochi
[Life]

Genre: Existential Autobiography

review in one breath

This is an impressively deep story based on the autobiography of Japanese novelist Ryu Miri. Inochi was originally published as a short story and writer Ryu Miri has gone on to write several other novels, a number of which have been translated into English. This film is directed by Shinohara Tetsuo and was awarded Grand Prix at the 47th Asia-Pacific Film Festival.



Ai no corrida

In the Realm of the Senses

Genre: Death Spiral of Obsessive Love

review in one breath

This movie by Oshima Nagisa contains scenes that go well beyond the allowances of the Japanese film industry censors and was thus produced in France. This could easily be (and has been) considered a form of pornography, but is seldom declared such due to perhaps the historical background of the story and Oshima's determination to have this produced as an artistic revolt against Japan's unwillingness to allow anything of this sort (at a time when Western film was producing pornography). That said, those watching this movie are in for some very graphic sex scenes which leave little or nothing to the imagination.



Samurai Banners
[Furin kazan]

風林火山

Genre: HUGE (!!!) Ashikaga/Sengoku Era Samurai Epic

review in one breath

This enormous historical epic directed by Inagaki Hiroshi and starring Mifune Toshiro explores the land-hungry expansion of Takeda Shingen of Kai province and his ultimate battle with Uesugi Kenshin of Echigo. Set during the transition between the Ashikaga and Sengoku Eras, this is an action-packed, panoramic tale of strategy, battle and allegiance.



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