|Japanese Outlaw Masters 5
Sponsored by the Japan Foundation.
Since we initiated our first "Japanese Outlaw Masters
Series" back in the summer of 1997, Japanese genre films, both from the classic era
of the 1960s and 70s and from the present, have enjoyed a massive upsurge in
popularity in the U.S., with directors like Takashi Miike, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Kinji
Fukasaku, Seijun Suzuki and Yasuzo Masumura finally receiving long-overdue recognition.
Despite challenging economic conditions in the Japanese movie industry, "outlaw"
filmmaking continues stronger than ever. Were thrilled to include new films from
directors Takashi Miike (GRAVEYARD OF HONOR, VISITOR Q) and Takashi Ishii (BLACK
ANGEL 2), along with newcomers Shion Sono (the gleefully subversive horror film
SUICIDE CLUB) and Toshiaki Toyoda (surreal cinema verite yakuza pic PORNO
STAR). The first wave of outlaw directors are represented by the U.S. Premieres of
long-lost classics by Kinji Fukasaku (BLACKMAIL IS MY LIFE), Yasuharu Hasebe (STRAY CAT
ROCK -- SEX HUNTER) and Seijun Suzuki (UNDERWORLD BEAUTY).
Photos and more information on some of these titles are available
Thursday, June 19 7:00 PM
SUICIDE CLUB (JISATSU CIRCLE), 2002,
Kadokawa-Daiei/Omega, 99 min. Dir. Shion Sono. When theres a sudden epidemic
of mass teen suicides, police detectives Ryo Ishibashi (AUDITION) and Masatoshi
Nagase (Japanese TVs "Mike Hama") begin to think theyre all somehow
connected. Is it an internet plot or a bizarre secret cult thats responsible? And
why does the perky innocence of that incredibly popular teen girl band seem progressively
more and more ominous? A delightfully gruesome horror film as well as a satire on peer
pressure and pop culture and prepare yourself for one of the most jawdropping
opening sequences you will ever see!
Thursday, June 19 9:15 PM
L.A. Premiere -- New from Takashi Miike!!
GRAVEYARD OF HONOR (SHIN
JINGI NO HAKABA), 2002, Daiei, 131 min. Director and enfant terrible Takashi
Miike (AUDITION) goes back to the original source novel by Goro Fujita for this remake
of the 1976 Kinji Fukasaku-helmed classic, and makes it his own. Goro Kishitani portrays
the legendary real life gangster, a sociopathic loser who cant even get along with
his fellow hoodlums and meticulously, if unconsciously, brings on his own blood-drenched
destruction. Miikes gritty cinema-verite style continually impressses with its
effortless versatility and painful honesty. Highly recommended.
Friday, June 20 7:00 PM
BOUNCE KO GALS, 1997, Media
Blasters, 110 min. Dir. Masato Harada. A simultaneously charming and harrowing
fly-on-the-wall tour following four teen schoolgirls who moonlight as thieving hookers to
make extra cash. When Lisa (Yukiko Okamoto), one of the more innocent girls who, so far,
has only stooped to selling her used panties, has her NYC college tuition money stolen,
her friends band together to help her make it all back in one night. They have to contend
with lovestruck teenage boys, psychotic salarymen, brutal yakuza and, last but not least,
rich neighborhood gang boss Koji Yakusho (CURE, THE EEL), who is alternately
compassionate and coldblooded about the young girls plight. With Hitomi Sato, Yasue
Friday, June 20 9:30 PM
Double Feature -- L.A. Theatrical Premieres!!
PORNO STAR, 1998, Little More, 98
min. Dir. Toshiaki Toyoda. Koji Chihara is Arano, an amoral youth who hates yakuza
and sees nothing wrong with killing them. Prowling Tokyos Shibuya district, he
secures himself a reputation that attracts a crew of young mob wannabes with a scheme to
trick him into assassinating their own gangster target. Things go as planned, but the
young hoods alliance with loose cannon Arano may just end up backfiring. A notorious
underground hit thats generated a mushrooming word-of-mouth for its violence, savage
social observations and unorthodox, often surreal style. (Note: PORNO STAR is not
about the Japanese porn industry!)
BLACK ANGEL 2 (KURO NO TENSHI VOL. 2), 1999,
Media Blasters, 105 min. Director Takashi Ishii (GONIN, FREEZE ME) returns with
more of his own intoxicating brand of melancholic, noirish poetry. A sequel in name only
to the first film, this focuses on beautiful, intense Mayo, a different Black Angel, who
is ordered to assassinate an ultra-powerful yakuza boss. But things go awry when the
bosss bodyguard turns out to be the man whod rescued her from a brutal rape.
With Yuki Amami, Reiko Kataoka.
Saturday, June 21 5:00 PM
STRAY CAT ROCK SEX
HUNTER (NORA NEKO ROKKU SEKKUSU HAANTAA), 1970, Vitagraph Films/American
Cinematheque Presents, 85 min. Director Yasuharu Hasebe (BLACK TIGHT KILLERS)
delivers the third and best in the five part STRAY CAT ROCK series, with phenomenal femme
action star Meiko Kaji (FEMALE CONVICT SCORPION) as Mako, a girl gang leader who
has her social conscience awakened when her hip yakuza beau, The Baron (Tatsuya Fuji)
not only starts shanghaiing her girls as sex slaves, but also begins persecuting mixed
race teenagers. Theres a surplus of kinetic knifefights, hip nightclub atmosphere
and smart-aleck dialogue in this mod delinquent classic.
Saturday, June 21 7:00 PM
Seijun Suzuki Double Header New 35 mm.
U.S. Premiere! UNDERWORLD
BEAUTY (ANKOKUGAI NO BIJO), 1958, Vitagraph Films/American Cinematheque Presents, 87
min. Famed outlaw auteur Seijun Suzuki (BRANDED TO KILL, GATE OF FLESH) proves he
was already operating on all cylinders in the late 1950s, in this riproaring crime
thriller, his first feature to be shot in stunning black and white Scope. Michitaro
Mizushima is the solitary black clad anti-hero trying to retrieve a cache of stolen
diamonds while dodging double-crossers and homicidal yakuza, all the while abetted by the
feisty, no nonsense sister (Mari Shiraki) of one of his murdered comrades.
TATTOOED LIFE (IREZUMI ICHIDAI), 1965,
Vitagraph Films/American Cinematheque Presents, 87 min. Dir. Seijun Suzuki. Hideki
Takahashi kills a rival gang boss, then goes on the run with his younger artist
brother, finally settling in a rural mining community where he finds love in the form of
precocious Masako Izumi. Soon, however, a corrupt private detective and the
indigenous yakuza clan, led by Seizaburo Kawazu, start closing in. The climactic rain- and
thunder-lit swordfight was so stylized, director Suzuki received his first warning from
the Nikkatsu bosses to stop pushing the envelope. Beautiful and wildly exhilarating.
Saturday, June 21 10:30 PM
L.A. Theatrical Premiere!!
VISITOR Q (BIZITA Q), 2001, Media
Blasters, 84 min. Bad boy director Takashi Miike creates a merciless satire on the
Japanese family with this shocking direct-to-video feature. Washed-up TV reporter Kenichi
Endo visits his teen hooker daughter, tries to pitch harebrained news projects to his
former colleague/lover, decides to film a documentary about his teen son who is constantly
harassed by neighborhhod bullies, all the while ignoring his depressed, prodigiously
lactating wife (Shungiku Uchida) who secretly works as a prostitute to support her drug
habit! Enter Visitor Q (Kazushi Watanabe), a psychedelic zen hipster who, in his
ambivalent freeloading way, may just be the key to reuniting whats left of this
damaged, "average Japanese family." Note: VISITOR Q
contains scenes of graphic violence and sexuality. No one under 18 will be admitted to
Sunday, June 22 5:00 PM
BLACKMAIL IS MY LIFE (KYOKATSU
KOSO WA GA JINSEI), 1968, Vitagraph Films/American Cinematheque Presents, 90 min. A
rare 1960s yakuza film that master Kinji Fukasaku directed outside of Toei
Studios (this time at Shochiku), BLACKMAIL IS MY LIFE follows the exploits of
up-from-the-slums Hiroki Matsukata, a young swinger who will do anything to keep
his freewheeling lifestyle intact. His lucky streak of blackmailing unravels in brutal
fashion when he unwisely targets business allies of powerful gang boss Tetsuro Tanba.
Sunday, June 22 7:00 PM
Junko Fuji/Ken Takakura Double Bill!!
RED PEONY GAMBLER FLOWER CARDS
MATCH (HIBOTAN BAKUTO HANA FUDA SHOBU), 1969, Toei, 98 min. Dir. Tai Kato.
(Number 3 in an 8 film series). An encore presentation from our 1998 Tai Kato
Retrospective, starring the luminously beautiful Junko Fuji (imagine Audrey Hepburn
with a sword and a tattoo) as Oryu, the Red Peony Gambler, a traveling card-player who
wanders into the bitter fight between two yakuza clans in 1920s Japan. One of
Katos most acclaimed films, RED PEONY GAMBLER lingers on in a series of bold poetic
images, Fujis snow-white kimono, the blue and black robes of the gangster
chieftains. With Ken Takakura.
THEATRE OF LIFE HISHAKAKU
& KIRATSUNE (JINSEI-GEKIJO HISHAKAKU TO KIRATSUNE), 1968, Toei, 109 min.
Legendary director Tomu Uchida gives us his version of one of the most filmed
literary sagas in Japan, as Kiratsune (Ken Takakura) inadvertently becomes involved
with the vulnerable wife (Junko Fuji) of his best friend, Hishakaku (Koji
Tsuruta) while the latter is in prison. A tapestry of gang war swordfights and
crisscrossing destinies is set against the turn-of-the-century ambience of a bygone era.