Goings On

A Very Japanese Season

Still Walking (2008)

A lot of great Japanese cinema, both new and old, is making its way to four cities in the coming weeks. The biggest of the upcoming programs is Summer in Japan at Toronto’s TIFF Cinematheque, a series of over thirty films running from July 5 through September 1. Programmer James Quandt has put together two sets of single-paragraph primers. In the first, he introduces five giants: Akira Kurosawa, Yasujiro Ozu, Kenji Mizoguchi, Kon Ichikawa, and Mikio Naruse. And in the second, he writes about five leaders of the Japanese New Wave whose work from the late 1950s through the early ’70s is seen as a rebellious response to those very giants: Nagisa Oshima, Shohei Imamura, Yuzo Kawashima, Yasuzo Masumura, and Hiroshi Teshigahara.

In London, the Close-Up Film Centre will be screening three major works by Kaneto ShindoThe Naked Island (1960), Onibaba (1964), and Kuroneko (1968)—throughout July. And in Chicago, the Gene Siskel Film Center is about to wrap up its series of four films by Umetsugu Inoue. There’s still time to catch The Green Music Box (1955), a children’s musical fantasy and the first feature to use Japan’s three-strip Konicolor process. Inoue may not be as well-known outside of Japan as, say, Kurosawa, but as Ben Sachs points out in the Reader, the prolific director of over 100 features “was consistently in demand in the 1950s and ’60s; in fact he was one of the few directors to have worked for all six of the major Japanese movie studios.”

New Films in New York

Director Masanori Tominaga and actor Tasuku Emoto will be at the Walter Reade Theater this evening to present the opening night presentation of this year’s New York Asia Film Festival. Dynamite Graffiti tells the true story of Akira Suei, a publisher who edited the wildly popular and mildly pornographic magazine Shashin Jidai (Photo Age) in the 1980s, and for James Hadfield, writing in the Japan Times, it’s “good fun, if a bit shallow.”

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