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Recently in Seijun Suzuki Category

Yumeji

Genre: Taisho Era Artistic Spiral Into Madness

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Artist Yumeji has gained fame and recognition for his skills at painting as well as notoriety for his untamed lifestyle. Despite his betrothal to a beautiful and timid young woman of high birth, his libido turns to his many female models. Despite this freedom from constraint, his lust and artistic sentiment cause him nothing but an increasing awareness of the elusive embodiment of true Beauty. While traveling he encounters a mesmerizing widow who relentlessly searches for her husband's body in the nearby lake, believing him killed at the hands of a ferocious roaming bandit. Infatuated with her beauty, he feigns to help her look for the corpse, only to unlock the mystery himself thereby sending him to further depths of debauchery and despair. This is the third and final film in director Suzuki Seijun's critically acclaimed Taisho Trilogy.



Youth of the Beast
[Yajuu no Seishun]

Genre: Yakuza / Tough Guy

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Director Suzuki Seijun teams up with prolific tough guy Shishido Jo in this tale of bad cop seeking employment by the highest paying yakuza lord. Though initially enamored by his formidable brutality, the yakuza soon realize there may be more to this rouge than they initially perceived. And then all hell breaks loose.



Kanto Wanderer
[Kanto Mushuku]

Genre: Tale of Principled Yakuza Folly

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In trying to revive the declining influence of the Izu yakuza family to which he is sworn, Katsuta is increasingly troubled that love of money has all but replaced the traditional yakuza notions of nobility and honor. Finally taking matters into his own hands Katsuta shocks the other yakuza families and appears to return his Izu boss to a prominent and respected stature. Ironically however, his honor-based actions quickly set off an unexpected chain of events which undermines his life and his allegiances.



Tokyo Drifter
[Tokyo Nagaremono]

Genre: Noir Yakuza Tale

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Tokyo Drifter is a stylish noir film by director Suzuki Seijin. The film is very well-known, as is Suzuki, and both have a well-deserved cult following. Suzuki directed several memorable films in addition to this, including Fighting Elegy (1966) and perhaps the mother of all Japanese gangster noir, Branded to Kill (1967). In Branded to Kill Suzuki tells an amazingly bizarre yakuza tale in black and white, with stark photography and vibrant, over-the-top characters. In Tokyo Drifter, the characters seem much more mainstream and Suzuki chooses the visual medium to channel the majority of style. The film moves from one colorfully designed set to the next, employing various camera techniques and angles. The result is clearly a pop-noir yakuza movie whose characters border between the stereotypical and comic book-like.



Fighting Elegy
[Kenka Ereji]

Genre: Quasi-historical Action [Showa Era: 1926-1989]

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The early trilogy of movies by Director Seijun Suzuki, of which this movie is the last, examines the impact and ludicrousness of the forces leading to war. Fighting Elegy follows the life of Kiroku, a junior high student in 1935 rural Japan, through a series of over-the-top humorous brawls. Under the instruction of master brawler "Turtle", Kiroku undertakes a rigorous training which involves mastery of several fighting techniques and an austere abstinence from mingling with the opposite sex. Unfortunately for Kiroku, he resides in a boarding house along with the young and beautiful Michiko, who sends Kiroku's raging libido off the deep end. To battle his urges (and sudden, ill-timed erections) Kiroku throws himself all the more fervently into his scuffles.



Branded to Kill
[Koroshi no rakuin]

Genre: Noir Yakuza Action

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"He loves the smell of boiling rice more than anything in the world."

Enter the world of rice-sniffing Yakuza killers! Enter the world of moth-collecting nihilists! Enter the world of Seijun Suzuki's Branded to Kill (1967)! This is the type of pop noir movie where you sit with mouth open in a state of disbelief.



Tattooed Life

Irezumi ichidai

Genre: Old-School Yakuza Reverence

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A convicted Yakuza felon is forced to decide between his own safety and the protection of his good-natured, devoted younger brother. Choosing the latter, both brothers flee to a remote mining town in the hopes of finding work and solace from the police. Their career choice brings them into contact with the motley and volatile crew of mine workers, each seemingly with a similarly notorious background. In spite of the elder brother's relentless efforts to keep them both out of harm's way, once the younger brother becomes fixated on the exemplar beauty of boss's wife, all hell breaks loose. This early film by renowned director Suzuki Seijun brings classic depictions of Yakuza nobility and Japanese humanism to the fore. Definitely worth checking out!



Gate of Flesh [Nikutai no Mon]

Genre: Extreme Post War Survival Tale

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Set immediately after WWII, this film explores the desperate lengths to which a squalid, burned out community must go to in order to survive. Originally intended as a gritty erotic tale starring Shishido Jo, director Suzuki Seijun turned this into an exceptional and immediate cinematic success. Suzuki's own experiences in the War come through clearly as he retells the depths to which post-war urban centers fell.



Kagero-za
[Kagerouza]

Genre: Taisho Era Ghostly Surrealism

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Playwright Shungo becomes increasingly enchanted by a mysterious and beautiful woman he occasionally crosses paths with. His playboy friend Tamawaki jests that it is all an amorous fate, but Shungo's contemplative nature senses deeper realities at play. When he receives a written invitation for a remote rendevouz, his journey of vulnerability brings him face to face with both the cruelties of human nature and the terrifyingly haunting power of love's own justice. This is the second film in director Suzuki Seijun's critically acclaimed Taisho Trilogy.



Zigeunerweisen
[Tsigoineruwaizen]

Genre: Taisho Era Macabre Mystery

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When university professor Aochi runs into his former colleague and friend Nakasago, his otherwise placid life takes a sudden turn toward disequilibrium. The circumstances under which they meet and Aochi's quiet observations increasingly cause him to doubt the moral and mental stability of Nakasago. And yet the more certain he becomes of Nakasago's dark nature, the more disturbing and chaotic his own life and relations become. This is a highly memorable horror tale by famed director Suzuki Seijun.



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