With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Monday, January 30, 2023

RASHOMON at Japan Society NY this Wednesday, February 1st, 2023

Japan Society
Toshiro Mifune and, behind his shoulder, Machiko Kyo
Directed by Akira Kurosawa
With Toshiro Mifune, Machiko Kyo, Masayuki Mori
Japan, 1950, 88 minutes
35mm, b&w, in Japanese with English subtitles
When: Wednesday, February 1st 2023 at 7:00 pm
Where: Japan Society NY
333 East 47th Street
New York, NY 10017
A riveting psychological thriller that investigates the nature of truth and the meaning of justice, Rashomon is widely considered one of the greatest films ever made. Based on a story by Ryunosuke Akutagawa, father of the modern Japanese short novel, Rashomon follows four people who give different accounts of a samurai's murder—brilliantly presented by director Akira Kurosawa with striking imagery and an ingenious use of flashbacks.
Rashomon is generally recognized that as the film that brought Japanese filmmaking into the ranks of World Cinema when it won the Golden Lion at the 1951 Venice Film Festival. (In Something Like An Autobiography, Kurosawa wrote that his next film, 1951s The Idiot, did so poorly that Daiei "rescinded its offer for me to do another film with them." Rashomon's success at Venice -- where he didn't even know it had been submitted --  spared him "from having to eat cold rice" and allowed him to continue on the incredible filmmaking bath that followed.)
Rashomon also  received an Honorary Award from the Board of Governors at the 1952 Academy Awards as the most outstanding foreign language film released in the United States during 1951. (It was not until 1956, at the 29th Academy Awards, that a competitive Academy Award of Merit, known as the Best Foreign Language Film Award, was created for non-English speaking films.)
This screening of Rashomon is part of Japan Society's MONTHLY CLASSICS film series. It is also part of a series of programs celebrating the life and work of the prolific Japanese author Ryunosuke Akutagawa. Upcoming: AKUTAGAWA—an amalgam of his best-known stories told through traditional Japanese puppetry (Feb. 23–25).

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Saturday, January 28, 2023

Seijun Suzuki Centennial film series coming to Japan Society NY

Japan Society
Seijun Suzuki Centennial
When: February 3rd - 11th, 2023
Where: Japan Society NY
333 East 47th Street
New York, NY 10017

A Six-film Celluloid Series Celebrating 100 Years of Seijun Suzuki

Celebrating 100 years of iconoclast director Seijun Suzuki (1923-2017), a singular force in Japanese cinema whose radical stylistic vision and unpredictable narratives shaped the B-movie genre, Japanese cinephilia and the political New Left, Japan Society and The Japan Foundation present Seijun Suzuki Centennial—a selection of six films from across the filmmaker’s nearly 60-film body of work, all on imported 35mm prints straight from Japan. Covering ground from his earliest yakuza feature (Satan’s Town) to his unbridled return to studio filmmaking after being blacklisted for 10 years (A Tale of Sorrow and Sadness) and his subsequent independent success (Kagero-za), this special series offers a rare glimpse into the core of Suzuki's creative genius.

Organized in conjunction with the recent publication of series’ guest curator William Carroll’s Suzuki Seijun and Postwar Japanese Cinema (Columbia University Press, 2022), Seijun Suzuki Centennial delves into the versatility and audacious nature of the maverick filmmaker’s singular stylistic impulses. As Carroll notes, “Suzuki, a major figure in the transformation of Japan's film industry and culture, began as something of a cog in Nikkatsu's machine, churning out up to six films a year for them in a variety of genres according to their needs. Even from the beginning, though, you can see the seeds of his style that would blossom in his final few years at Nikkatsu as he became a major figure for Japan's cinephile culture. When he was fired, it became a watershed moment for the collapse of the studio system and the rise of independent film production, giving himself a place to reemerge with his most daring and experimental work a decade later.”

Series guest programmed by William Carroll, Assistant Professor of Modern Japanese Cultural Studies at the University of Alberta.

Tickets: $15/$12 students and seniors /$10 Japan Society members.

Series Pass: Purchase tickets for all films in the same transaction and receive $2 off each ticket.

Lineup and other details are subject to change. For complete information click here.

All films are in Japanese with English subtitles.
Friday, February 3 at 7:00 PM
Directed by Seijun Suzuki
With Yusaku Matsuda, Yoshio Harada, Mariko Kaga
1981, 139 minutes, imported 35mm print, color
Playwright Matsuzaki (Yusaku Matsuda) finds his fate caught in between the lives of two strange women—one whose enigmatic persona evinces a presence beyond this mortal coil; another whispered to be a European in disguise, her blue eyes and golden hair appearing only under moonlight. Roped into fulfilling a role he’s seemingly meant to play, the dramaturge becomes beleaguered when he’s invited to a rendezvous that suggests a double-suicide—one in which he may very well be an unwilling participant. Suzuki’s head-spinning follow-up to his independent comeback Zigeunerweisen renders a vividly hedonistic and perverse depiction of the taisho period bordering on nightmare. Unfettered by studio constraints, Suzuki’s disorienting adaptation of Kyoka Izumi’s ghost story obscures reality in its hazy meandering, ambiguous and ghostly performances, and disparate sense of time and space—offering a forbidden vision of the past.

Satan’s Town
Saturday, February 4 at 5:00 PM
Directed by Seijun Suzuki
With Seizaburo Kawazu, Shinsuke Ashida, Ichiro Sugai
1956, 79 minutes, imported 35mm print, b&w 
In this convoluted crime film that echoes Raoul Walsh’s White Heat, a gang boss decides to pull off a heist after getting out of prison, but the team he puts together has multiple competing ambitions and very little loyalty. Suzuki extends his formal experiments to editing a sequence out of freeze-frames and shooting a scene upside-down in a pool reflection, and his sense of humor shows itself in numerous murder scenes, as well as the film’s climax. To viewers who are familiar with only his late Nikkatsu work, Satan’s Town may be the earliest recognizable Suzuki Seijun film. Screens with Love Letter.

Love Letter
Saturday, February 4 at 5:00 PM
Directed by Seijun Suzuki
With Kyosuke Machida, Frank Nagai, Hisako Tsukuba
1959, 40 minutes, imported 35mm print, b&w
A pianist goes to visit her lover in the wilderness, with whom she has kept up correspondence by mail, but discovers a secret upon her arrival at his address. This short kayo film (a "ballad" film named after a popular song that would be performed in the film) stars popular singer Frank Nagai as the pianist’s co-performer; he also sings the film’s title track. In addition to its unusual genre, the film’s production values seem incongruous with its short running time—the 40-minute kayo film was shot on location in rural Tohoku with elaborate tracking and crane shots on snowy mountains. The landscape shots are gorgeous, and the interiors in the log cabin are cozy and inviting—with a surprisingly effective result given how little time there is to develop the narrative. Screens with Satan’s Town.

Tokyo Drifter
Saturday, February 4 at 8:00 PM
Directed by Seijun Suzuki
With Tetsuya Watari, Chieko Matsubara, Tamio Kawaji
1966, 82 minutes, imported 35mm print, color, in Japanese with English subtitles
In this deliriously unhinged yakuza film, a recently paroled ex-con attempts to go straight but is immediately hounded by former cohorts and rivals who want him dead. A highlight of 1960s avant-pop Japanese cinema replete with over-the-top set design and swinging enka ballads performed by actor-singer Tetsuya Watari, Tokyo Drifter displays the full breadth of Suzuki’s unique visual style and surreal sensibilities.

Carmen from Kawachi
Friday, February 10 at 7:00 PM
Directed by Seijun Suzuki
With Yumiko Nogawa, Ruriko Ito, Chikako Miyagi
1966, 80 minutes, imported 35mm print, b&w
Suzuki’s final film to star Yumiko Nogawa (Gate of Flesh, Story of a Prostitute), Carmen from Kawachi follows the life of Tsuyuko (Nogawa), a young woman from rural Kansai. Escaping her miserable life in the countryside, Tsuyuko moves to Osaka and takes on a series of exploitative jobs that include maid, bar hostess and fashion model, all for a chance at making it big. A searing social critique melded with melodrama and surreal flourishes, Suzuki’s final film in his “Flesh Trilogy” takes loose inspiration from Georges Bizet’s opera Carmen.
A Tale of Sorrow and Sadness
Saturday, February 11 at 7:00 PM
Directed by Seijun Suzuki
With Yoko Shiraki, Yoshio Harada, Masumi Okada, Koji Wada
1977, 93 minutes, imported 35mm print, color, in Japanese with English subtitles
Fired from Nikkatsu studio for making “incomprehensible” films, Seijun Suzuki returned to the director’s chair after a decade of exile working in television with A Tale of Sorrow and Sadness, a characteristically bizarre critique of advertising and celebrity culture based on a story by sports manga legend Ikki Kajiwara (Ashita no Joe). In need of a new cover girl to boost advertising sales, the top brass of a large sports magazine manufacture the latest Japanese sports star—an amateur golfer who looks good in a bikini. When the golfer’s fame attracts the unwanted attention of a crazed housewife stalker, however, she finds herself terrorized by a blackmail scheme and Suzuki makes a sharp turn into surreal psychological thriller territory.


7 PM        Kagero-za

5 PM        Satan’s Town / Love Letter
8:00 PM     Tokyo Drifter

7 PM        Carmen from Kawachi

7 PM        A Tale of Sorrow and Sadness

Thursday, December 08, 2022

ALL ABOUT LILY CHOU-CHOU reviewed; screening at Japan Society on December 10, 2022

Japan Society

All About Lily Chou-Chou
Written and directed by Shunji Iwai
With Hayato Ichihara, Shugo Oshinari, Ayumi Ito, Yu Aoi.
Japan, 2001, 146 minutes
35 mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles

When: Saturday, December 10th, 2022 at 7:15 p.m
Where: Japan Society NY
333 East 47th Street
New York, NY 10017

All About Lily Chou Chou began as an interactive novel Iwai wrote and posted on the Internet. The film captures the absurdities of growing up in Japan’s pervasive pop/cyber culture, in which Internet chat rooms, pop-idol worship, and harrowing school bullying are just part of a teenager’s daily life. Iwai’s poetic, gorgeously shot coming-of-age tale provides a disturbing look at the violence, terror, and isolation that characterized growing up in Japan at the turn of the century.

AsianCineFest Rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars; very highly recommended

Be sure you have read and can follow Japan Society's health and safety policies before purchasing tickets to on-site events.  Review the Visitor Policies and Safety Protocols here.

Sunday's screening of All About Lily Chou Chou is part of Japan Society's film series Love Letters: Four Films by Shunji Iwai.

Wednesday, December 07, 2022

LOVE LETTERS: Four Films by Shunji Iwai at Japan Society starting tomorrow, Friday, December 9th

Japan Society NY

LOVE LETTERS: Four Films by Shunji Iwai
When: December 9-23, 2022
Where: Japan Society NY
333 East 47th Street

One of the most original talents to emerge from Japan in the ’90s, director Shunji Iwai tapped into the dreams and lives of Japan’s youth with his lyrical meditations on the hardships of young adulthood, capturing pivotal and unforgettable moments of life. Balancing popular entertainment with arthouse predilection, Iwai’s exhilarating takes on the youth film provided a much-needed voice for the younger generation, offering delicate portraits of adolescence, ripe with poetic yearnings of grief, friendship and young love. Iwai’s sumptuous visual style coupled with his affecting and underground appeal opened a world of new possibilities in the ’90s cinescape—marking him as one of the most accomplished and unique filmmakers of his generation.

Full info about the series can be viewed here.

IN-PERSON SCREENINGS (December 9th and 10th)
Tickets: $15 / 10 members
- Love Letter on Friday, December 9th at 7 pm
- Fireworks, Should We See It from the Side or the Bottom? and April Story on Saturday, December 10th at 5 pm
- All About Lily Chou-Chou on Saturday, December 10th at 7:15 pm

Series Pass: Purchase Tickets for all films in the same transaction and receive $2 off each ticket.

ONLINE SCREENINGS (December 9th—23rd)
Rentals: $10
- April Story

Members: 20% off via promo code
Not a member? Join today.

Be sure you have read and can follow Japan Society's health and safety policies before purchasing tickets to on-site events.  Review the Visitor Policies and Safety Protocols here.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Today is last day for online viewing of music doc FINDING HER BEAT

Finding Her Beat
Directed by Dawn Mikkelson and Keri Pickett
United States, 2022, 89 minutes
Laungauges: English, Japanese

Finding Her Beat is a very special music documentary feature film. Today, Sunday, November 27th is the last day that it will be available for audiences in the U.S. and U.S. territories to watch online as part of DOC NYC’s virtual screening experience.

Music is the driving beat of cultural and individualist expression for people of color around the globe – offering sanctuary in times of uncertainty and a sense of family/community, helping those to survive and often thrive. Finding Her Beat was made by a predominantly female/nonbinary, largely Asian-American and LGBTQ filmmaking team and cast, when marginalized gendered and people of color are severely underrepresented in film.

For thousands of years women have been locked out of Taiko drumming. Not any more, since thousands of groups now perform throughout North America and worldwide. In the dead of a Minnesota winter just before the world shut down for a global pandemic, Asian drumming divas from around the world met to perform and smash gender roles and redefine power on their own terms.

Finding Her Beat dives into the rhythms and struggles that lead to an electrifying historic performance that changes everything.