Jan 23

Call of the Pistil (1971) aka Kashin no sasoi

It is the jarring debut of Masaru Konuma (Ikenie Fujin), one of the Nikkatsu studio’s most unconventional filmmakers. The outrageous story line deals with Masako (Keiko Maki), a journalist who is raped while researching a story. The rape causes her to develop amnesia, so her brother devises a novel way to get her memory back — he has her boyfriend rape her again. It doesn’t work, so the brother and boyfriend do more research, discovering that Masako was raped by an African-American soldier. As might be expected, they then hire a black GI to rape the poor girl yet a third time. There remains nothing else to say about this film. Those who might enjoy it will surely be searching for it already, and those who are repulsed will surely not be swayed by hearing what a well-made film it is, or how well novice director Konuma composes scenes.

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Jan 14

Zegen (1987)

The award-winning director of such esteemed films as Black Rain and The Ballad of Narayama has chosen here to tell the decidedly dicey true tale of Iheiji Muraoka, also known as Zegen, the man who became the most powerful pimp in modern Japanese history, a man who could honestly regard himself as “The Boss of the South Seas.” At the time, between the World Wars, Japan was involved in empire-building throughout East and Southeast Asia. After a brief career as a low-level military adventurer, Iheiji (Ken Ogata) decided to set up chains of brothels throughout Asia. As Japan’s power in the region grew, so did his prosperity, as the man is quite literally surrounded by sex of all kinds, much of it shown onscreen. Interestingly enough, this engaging rogue was convinced that his entrepreneurship was not only personally rewarding, but was his way of doing his patriotic best to advance his country’s global ambitions.

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Jan 14

Ringu (1995)

In different parts of Tokyo, four young and seemingly healthy people suddenly die of heart failure at exactly the same moment. Reporter Kazuyuki Asakawa decides to investigate the deaths, and discovers that the four had stayed at a rural inn together just a week earlier. At the inn, he comes across a strange video that ends with a message saying that anyone who watches it will die exactly seven days later. Now the clock is ticking for Asakawa. Can he break the curse in time?

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Jan 04

Hunter in the Dark (1979) aka Yami no karyudo

Yataro Tanigawa, a one-eyed hired assassin, impresses yakuza boss Gomyo Kiyoemon with his skill. Gomyo hires Tanigawa as his bodyguard, or yojimbo, to protect him during an inter-clan conflict. Tanigawa quickly rises in stature in the clan, but finds his boss’s enemies almost overwhelming.

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