utorak, 21. kolovoza 2012.

10 najkontroverznijih japanskih filmova + 100 najboljih itd.

Razni izbori "naj-" u japanskom filmu: najkontroverzniji, najbolji dokumentarci, najbolje seksi scene, najbolji prizori te najbolji filmovi općenito + linkovi na sve recenzije japanskih filmova na JFilmPow-Wow.

Toronto J-Film Pow-Wow

Top Ten Most Controversial Japanese Films

Everyone loves a top ten list, not only so they can find out about new films, but also so they can argue with the people who compiled the list in the first place. “I can’t believe that was only at number five!!!” etc, etc. So with that in mind The Toronto J-Film Pow-Wow is launching our monthly Top Ten List. On the last Wednesday of each month we’ll be counting down not only the top ten films in various genres (yakuza eiga, samurai), but also our favorite actors, actresses and much more.

To immediately court controversy we thought we’d go right for the Japanese films that have shocked, outraged and disgusted audiences all over the world. That's right: The top ten most controversial films in Japanese cinema.

10. Ichi the Killer – Takashi Miike (2001)

We start of our list with a film that needs no introduction. When Takashi Miike’s 2001 ultra-violent adaptation of Hideo Yamamoto’s ultra-violent yakuza manga premiered as part of the Toronto International Film Festival’s Midnight Madness programme the audience was issued vomit bags. No word as to whether any of them were actually used (I’d imagine they are either treasured keepsakes or hot items on eBay now), but the promotion makes absolute sense. Miike’s treatment of the story of sado-masochistic yakuza Kakihara’s (Tadanobu Asano) search through the seedy under belly of Kabucki-cho for the killer of his boss and S&M master is filled with scenes of people being boiled by oil, impaled, disemboweled, sliced in half, decapitated and de-faced… literally. If there was any film that can say that it popularized the genre of “Japanese extreme cinema” then “Ichi the Killer” is it. But despite its cult status among fans the film initially suffered cuts due to its graphic depictions of violence against women, specifically the torture of a prostitute during which her nipples are sliced off. It was this scene and five other minutes of gore that British censors trimmed off the film, while Hong Kong censors cut nearly half an hour off the full 129 minute run time. Of course fans of “Ichi the Killer” know that Miike’s director’s cut was widely released in 2003. CM

9. The Horrors of Malformed Men – Teruo Ishii (1969)

Up until last year when Teruo Ishii’s 1969 Edogawa Rampo adaptation “The Horrors of Malformed Men” got released on DVD through Synapse Films it had been virtually impossible to see. Ishii and his screenwriter Masahiro Kakefuda assembled some of the most provocative elements of Rampo’s writings to tell the Island of Dr. Moreau-esque story of a mad scientist who has created an island of mutated humans. The casting of Tatsumi Hijikata, the founder of the avant-garde butoh movement of modern dance, as the scientist plus Ishii’s usual bent sensibilities created a queasy, psychedelic side show torture, sexuality and human experimentation the likes of which Japanese cinema hadn’t experienced before. None of this had to do with the self-imposed ban that the execs at Toei put on the film after its initial release though. The controversy surrounding the film came from its Japanese title, “Edogawa Rampo Taizen: Kyofu Kikei Ningen”. The term used in the title to describe deformed people “kyofu kikei ningen” is highly offensive in Japan , being roughly translatable to “disgusting deformed humans”. Not wanting to offend people with physical deformities and disabilities Toei locked the film away for nearly 30 years, thus creating its notorious reputation. CM

8. Prophecies of Nostradamus – Toshio Masuda (1974)

Like “The Horrors of Malformed Men”, Toshio Masuda’s science fiction film “Prophecies of Nostradamus” suffered its own self-imposed ban by its producers at Toho. Based on the famous prophecies made by 16th-century French seer Nostradamus the film Dr. Nishiyama, played by Tetsuro Tamba, who watches helplessly as the world is subjected to plagues of giant bats, slugs and human mutations caused by the over-reaching grasp of modern science. Flash forwards to the future show the apocalyptic results of these scientific missteps: nations devastated by war and humans who have been transformed into deformed cannibals by radiation. This last part is what got the film into trouble. The hibakusha, the survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, found this depiction utterly offensive and after continued protests to either make cuts to or ban the film entirely Toho voluntarily pulled the film from circulation in 1980. Later that decade Toho was blocked from releasing “Prophecies of Nostradamus” on video cassette by organizations representing the hibakusha. While unavailable in Japan the film did make its way to home video in the U.S. under the title “The Last Days of Planet Earth”. CM

7. For Those We Love – Taku Shinjo (2007)

Japan’s war time past has been a hot button issue both nationally and internationally, but in recent years Japanese moviegoers have been treated to a number of right-wing leaning dramas that it can be argued either tried to honour the sacrifice of individuals during WW2 or present a revisionist glorification of Japanese war of aggression in the Pacific. No other fictionalized account of this period has drawn more protests than Taku Shinjo’s 2007 film “For Those We Love.” Written by Shintarô Ishihara, the right-wing governor of Tokyo, whose book “The Japan That Can Say No” (co-written with Sony founder Akio Morita) gained him international attention for its critical view of U.S.- Japanese relations, the film presents a glossy, patriotic take on Japan ’s infamous kamikaze pilots. Nobody’s getting high on crystal meth before crashing into a battleship here. Told from the point of view of a mama-san who runs a Kyushu restaurant the film follows the lives of the fresh-faced young Japanese pilots who volunteered to end their lives in aerial suicide missions against the allied forces. Voices of protest were raised against the film both within Japan and from abroad calling it “fascistic,” and “alarming.” What can you expect from a politician who says that the atrocities inflicted on the citizens of Nanking in 1937 never happened? CM

6. The Whispering of the Gods - Tatsushi Ômori (2005)

Based on the semi-autobiographical novel by “outlaw writer” Mangetsu Hanamura “The Whispering of the Gods” is a blistering attack on the Catholic Church as told from the viewpoint of Rou (Hiroumi Arai), a young man seeking asylum for murder in a church run community in the Japanese countryside. Rou gets his asylum, but only if he agrees to provide sexual favours to the head priest, Father Kamiya (Kei Sato) and the other members of the clergy. Explicit in its depiction of sexual abuse, humiliation and animal cruelty it’s a miracle that “The Whispering of the Gods” got screened in Japan at all, and if it wasn’t for producer Genjiro Arato it probably wouldn’t have. Arato worked as the producer on Seijun Suzuki’s 1980 return to the cinematic fold “Zigeunerweisen” which he showed in its own tent theatre as a way to circumvent the Japanese theatres who were wary of screening such a surreal film. Arato chose the same tactic for Ômori’s film not because it was strange, but because it would never get cleared through the Japanese censors to release in a regular theatre. While not reaching the same level of success as “Zigeunerweisen” Ômori’s grim, unforgiving look at how faith can be used to manipulate did have an extended run in its tent in Ueno Park and garnered a nomination for the Tokyo Grand Prix. CM

5. Night and Fog in Japan – Nagisa Oshima (1960)

Nagisa Oshima’s contribution to the Shochiku-Ofuna New Wave initiative to highlight young filmmakers “Night and Fog in Japan” was the center of controversy almost immediately after it was released. The plot of the film centers around the wedding of Nozawa and Reiko, a young couple with a politically radical past. When the guests at the wedding start to question the political integrity of the bride and groom Oshima uses flashback to show the audience the couple’s involvement in protests against the AMPO Treaty that outlined security relations between United States and Japan . With the film being released only four short months after the Treaty was signed Shochiku was concerned that its bold political message might inflame a still delicate situation; and after the assassination of Socialist politician Inejiro Asanuma by a right-wing student the studio yanked “Night and Fog in Japan” from theatres. Oshima was understandably furious and proclaimed publicly that, “my film is the weapon of the people's struggle.” Despite the film being pulled from theatres it still ranked in the top ten of Kinema Junpo’s picks for best films of 1960, and after having left Shochiku in protest Oshima went on to found his own independent production company called Sozosha (Creation) through which he released his next dozen films. CM

4. In the Realm of the Senses – Nagisa Oshima (1976)

The second of Oshima’s films on this list and probably one of if not the best known film by the director. While the final castration scene in this film based on the actual case of Japanese murderess Sada Abe who in 1936 killed her lover during a session of erotic asphyxiation and then cut off his genitals as a souvenir was obviously fake, that’s about all that was. Oshima made the choice of having his actors, Eiko Matsuda as Sada and Tatsuya Fuji as her lover Kichizo, engage in actual sexual intercourse throughout the film. It was this decision that forced Oshima to dodge the Japanese censors, smuggle the undeveloped footage out of Japan to France and dub it a French co-production in order to complete the film. Upon its release in 1976 “In the Realm of the Senses” was either banned or severely censored in the U.S., Canada, Germany and Japan, and it was only in the early 90s that the complete “In the Realm of the Senses” was screened and released on DVD. It is still banned in the Republic of Ireland. To this day “In the Realm of the Senses” is viewed as one of the most controversial films in cinema history, but also one of the most groundbreaking, paving the way for other sexually explicit films like John Cameron Mitchell’s “Shortbus” and Michael Winterbottom’s “9 Songs.” CM

3. Guinea Pig: Flower of Flesh and Blood - Jyunko Okamoto (1986)

“Guinea Pig: Flower of Flesh and Blood” has got a pedigree that most horror films would (excuse the pun) kill for. It’s an urban legend now that actor Charlie Sheen handed over this film to the FBI after he’d viewed it at a party and thought he’d discovered an actual snuff film. If that wasn’t grisly enough for you try this. When police searched the home of Japanese child killer Tsutomu Miyazaki they discovered a copy of “Flower of Flesh and Blood” amongst his collection of sadistic manga and porn. It’s mostly for the latter reason that the entire “Guinea Pig” series has been made illegal in Japan. This is truly rough stuff. The film consists of 42 minutes of the slow, graphic and disturbingly convincing dismemberment of a woman by a man dressed in traditional samurai garb, and that’s it. This one peddles to the lowest common denominator and I guarantee you that whoever has seen even a clip of this grandfather of the “torture porn” genre won’t soon forget it… and not because it’s a fun film. Trust me. CM

2. Emperor Tomato Ketchup – Shuji Terayama (1970)
No, this is not an album by Stereolab… Well, it is, but the London-based post-rock band took the name of its 1996 album “Emperor Tomato Ketchup” from the 1970 film by Japanese poet, playwright and filmmaker Shuji Terayama. The founder of the Tenjō Sajiki experimental theatre company and over 200 written works Terayama is thought of as the leading voice of the 60s and 70s avant-garde in Japan, an artist whose output was consistently provocative and taboo-breaking. Nothing sums this up better than “Emperor Tomatoe Ketchup,” a surreal, dream-like film that portrays a world where children have revolted and turned the social order upside down, “condemn[ing] their parents to death for depriving them of self-expression and sexual freedom.” While the parallels to the 60s youth-centered counterculture is evident it’s the last part of that quote from Amos Vogel’s "Film as a Subversive Art" that has gotten the film in so much trouble. Interspersed with scenes of adults being bound and humiliated by their new rulers are scenes of nudity and simulated sex involving children. While Terayama continued to maintain that this was not done for pornographic intent, but as a symbolic tool to explore issues of oppression the full 75-minute version of “Emperor Tomato Ketchup” has been frequently banned. This happened most recently in 2004 when the plug got pulled on a planned screening of the film in Austin, Texas during which it was to be synched with Stereolab’s album. CM

1. Yasukuni – Ying Li (2007)
No film in Japanese cinema history has seen the kind of controversy that Tokyo-based filmmaker Ying Li’s documentary “Yasukuni” has. 10 years in the making the film takes 90-year-old swordsmith Naoji Kariya as its center piece, exploring the history not only of the Yasukuni swords, katana that were forged and sent to the front line troops on the Asian mainland during WW2, but also the history of the nearly 150-year-old shrine that houses the “kami” of 2,466,000 men and women who died defending the honour of the Emperor. Yasukuni Shrine and the yearly visits paid to it by high-ranking officials in the ruling LDP government depicted in the film have become a symbol of Japan’s unrepentant stance to the atrocities that the Imperial Army committed during the war as 1,068 of the soldiers enshrined there are convicted war criminals. While Li does his best to present a neutral view of the shrine and its history the reactions by Japanese audiences has been anything but. Screenings of the film in Japan have been met with denouncements, boycotts and protests from right-wing nationalists. In July a theatre in Kochi that had booked a screening of the film even received bomb threats. At the height of the controversy in April of this year representatives from the shrine and Kariya the swordsmith both requested to have extensive cuts made to the film, in Kariya’s case because he claimed that he did not know what type of film Li was making. Speculation was that key lawmakers in the LDP Party were working behind the scenes of these requests, but producers for “Yasukuni” refused. Thankfully the doc has been able to screen without major incident at festival throughout the rest of the world and even snagged a nomination for the Grand Jury Prize at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. CM 

Top Ten Best Japanese Documentaries

It's been about a year since we started our monthly top ten lists during that time we've covered samurai films, yakuza films, films that were too controversial for Japan and the world and films that changed the course of Japanese cinema; but through all our lists we've focused our attention on fictional films. We thought that it was about time that we turned our attention to another genre of film, one that looks to the real world for inspiration for their source material - documentaries. Although a few of the films on our Top Ten Japanese Documentaries list question the difference between a film based on fact and a film based on fiction there's no doubt as to the huge contribution that Japan has made and continues to make to the world of documentary filmmaking.

10. The New God - Yutaka Tsuchiya (1999)

Video Act! is a Tokyo-based collective of over 50 filmmakers whose goal it is to "support the spread and distribution of independent videos" that specifically highlights the "reality of Japan which you can hardly get from the corporate media". That means that the vast majority of their output can be categorized as left-leaning films on subjects ranging from workers' rights, gender issues and environmental causes - important subjects that need to be addressed, but didactic video documentaries might not be what many viewers would call engaging. One of Video Act's most prominent members, filmmaker Yutaka Tsuchiya, turned that perception on its head with his 1999 documentary "The New God". At first glance it's subject, Karin Amamiya the lead singer of the now defunct ultra-right wing punk band The Revolutionary Truth, and her brief allegiance with ultra-left wing members of Japan's Red Army living in exile in Pyongyang, North Korea seems like pretty standard Video Act! fare, but something much more compelling than political polemics is going on under the surface. Despite her earnest anti-foreign views Amamiya's personal charm and innocence permeates the film and director Tsuchiya is obviously smitten."The New God" ends up being an utterly unique experience - a punk rock documentary with a crisis of political faith and a very sweet love story at its core. A huge success in underground circles in Japan "The New God" made Amamiya a media personality and an author with nearly two dozen books to her credit. CM

9. Into the Picture Scroll: The Tale of Yamanaka Tokiwa - Sumiko Haneda (2004)

While the inclusion of 83-year-old documentary filmmaker Sumiko Haneda on our list of the top ten Japanese documentaries is a bit of a no brainer the decision as to which of her almost 90 films should be represented here was quite the task. Well known in Japan for decades for her films about kabuki and Japanese dance (the six-part film on kabuki actor Kataoka Nizaemon, and the 3-hour documentary on folk dancing "Ode to Mt. Hayachine" amongst them) Haneda is still a marginal name in North American documentary circles. That changed during the summer of 2008 when her 2004 film "Into the Picture Scroll: The Tale of Yamanaka Tokiwa" toured throughout North America and Europe as part of the "Wreath for Madame Kawakita" programme put together by the Japan Foundation and the Kawakita Memomorial Film Institute. The concept behind "Into the Picture Scroll" is simple: shoot close-up footage of portions of the twelve 400-year-old emakimono that tell the tale of young general Minamoto no Yoshitsune and his mother Tokiwa who was murdered on her way to be reunited with Ushiwaka at Kurama Temple in the Hiei Mountains northeast of Kyoto. Haneda does just this and with narration by Kyoko Kataoka the centuries old story of Yoshitsune comes to life with the same vibrancy and excitement as a modern day manga or anime film. Here's hoping that the enthusiastic reception that "Into the Picture Scroll" received around the world last year will spark screenings and retrospectives of this remarkable woman's work. CM

8. Lessons from a Calf - Hirokazu Kore-eda (1991)

Hirokazu Kore-eda has become one of the most important Japanese filmmakers of his generation, best known for dramas like 1998's "After Life", 2001's "Distance", and 2004's "Nobody Knows". What has distinguished his work, and specifically this trio of films, was his use of documentary techniques in telling fictional stories. From the casting of non-actors, inclusion of improvised dialogue, subject interviews incorporated into the film's narrative - Kore-eda refuses to draw a firm line between cinematic fiction and perceived reality. This unique way of filmmaking can be traced back to Kore-eda's early career with Japan's TV Man Union, an independent TV broadcasting comapny. Kore-eda worked as an assistant director on a number of television documentaries before helming his very first directorial effort, 1991's "Lessons from a Calf". The 47-minute documentary follows the fifth grade class at Nagano's Ina Elementary School as the adopt and raise a female dairy cow who they name Laura. Kore-eda's camera witnesses the children's reactions and growing connection with the calf before the school year, and their friendship with the calf, ends. Fans of Kore-eda will immediately be able to see the creative similarities with "Nobody Knows", the story of a family of children forced to fend for themselves after their mother abandons them in in their Tokyo apartment. As companion pieces the two films give us an honest and moving portrayal of childhood as well as making us question what exactly the difference between documentary and drama is. CM

7. Wings of Defeat - Risa Morimoto (2007)

In 2005 Risa Morimoto was attending a family get together and it was there that her cousin made a casual comment, one that would have a profound impact on the New York-based filmmaker - her late uncle had been trained as a tokkotai, or as they have become more commonly known, a kamikaze pilot in the waning years of the Second World War. Morimoto couldn't reconcile the kindly Japanese man who she'd grown up knowing with the image of a suicidal fighter pilot, so in order to help process this new piece of family history Morimoto grabbed a camera and headed back to Japan to speak to her family there. While her aunt and cousins couldn't elaborate much more on Morimoto's uncle's past what she discovered were a handful of elderly men who had hidden, due to shame, anger, and fear, their past as kamikaze during WW2. The conversations between Morimoto, these men, and even American war veterans who survived kamikaze attacks form the basis of her remarkable documentary "Wings of Defeat". Yes, the film provides a wealth of historical background on the desperate position that Japan found itself in at the end of the war, but what makes "Wings of Defeat" such a special film is that it provides a medium through which these men can finally share their experiences, their emotions, and in some cases their outrage with a world that has sadly become all to familiar with the phenomena of young men and women who sacrifice their lives as suicide bombers. CM

6. God Speed You! Black Emperor - Mitsuo Yanagimachi (1976)

Societies both past and present have had love/ hate relationships with their youth. On the one hand youth represents beauty and the possibilities of the next generation, but on the other hand all those hormones and bravado can prove troublesome if they're not channeled properly. In Japan, a nation that prizes conformity and consensus above all else, unruly youth present a special problem, so while street gangs might frighten law-abiding citizens worldwide in Japan their boogeymen status attains new heights of moral outrage. For his debut film veteran director Mitsuo Yanagimachi decided to pull back this curtain of fear and indignation to explore the inner workings of one of Japan's bōsōzoku, or "violent running gangs", the Black Emperors motorcycle club. Sure there's plenty of black leather, swastikas, and noisy mufflers, but after two years filming the members of the Black Emperors the biggest revelation, although not terribly surprising, is that instead of sociopathic criminals the gang is mostly made up of goofy teenage boys who are looking to prove themselves to each other even more than piss of their elders. The real legacy of "God Speed You! Black Emperor", besides providing the name for a Canadian indie rock band, is its grainy black and white cinematography. Released in 1976 it had a profound influence on the look of a whole new generation of independent filmmakers, specifically Sogo Ishii, the director of such punk rock films as "Burst City" and "Electric Dragon 80,000V" and Shinya Tsukamoto and his seminal film "Tetsuo the Iron Man". CM

5. Campaign - Kazuhiro Soda (2007)

There are certain hallmarks of style that distinguish a film as a documentary: the construction of a coherent narrative around unscripted or historical events, interviews with participants, experts, eye witnesses, voice over narration to provide exposition and opinion, and lastly a soundtrack or score to set the mood. These techniques have defined the genre, and it's these very techniques that Japanese born and now New York-based filmmaker Kazuhiro Soda jettisons for his documentaries, or as he likes to refer to them, "observational films". After having made dozens of television documentaries for major Japanese broadcasters like NHK Soda became disillusioned with the ways these techniques dictated not only the way that "reality" in film was being presented, but also how we in the audience responded to it. For his first "observational film" "Campaign" Soda simply followed his old college roommate, Kazuhiko Yamauchi, with a camera as he runs for municipal office in Kawasaki City, Kanagawa Prefecture. The end result is an unprecidented and intimate look at the Japanese political system. With no previous political experience under his belt Yamauchi attempts to win over the local constiuency with old-fashioned foot work, lengthy meet-and-greets, and hours of shouting declarations on street corners. Without the cinematic baggage of narration, explanation, interviews, and music "Campaign" asks us to make up our minds about Yamauchi, his single-minded pursuit of political success and the often absurd world that he must navigate to make that dream possible. With it being honoured with a prestigious Peabody Award "Campaign" has singled out Kazuhiro Soda as one of the most vital documentary filmmakers working today. CM

 4. Minamata: The Victims and Their World - Noriaki Tsuchimoto (1972)

In 1956 doctors were struggling to diagnose what seemed like a new disease in Minamata, a small seaside city in Kumamoto Prefecture. Those afflicted with this mystery illness, many of whom were local fishermen and their families, exhibited symptoms of numbness, convulsions, muscle weakness, difficulty speaking, paralysis, and even insanity. As the disease was localized to Minamata physicians assumed that this was a contagious outbreak, but soon their investigation brought them to a much more shocking conclusion. It turned out that these patients were suffering from severe mercury poisoning; it's source: the local Chisso Corporation chemical plant. For nearly 40 years run off from the plant was contaminating the wildlife around the city and through fishing the dinner tables of the townsfolk. Dubbed Minamata Disease the outbreak was not only one of the worst environmental disasters in Japanese history, but globally as well, and its nearly 2,300 victims became the unwelcome face of the dark side of Japan's industrial and economic miracle. Throughout the 1960's documentary filmmaker Noriaki Tsuchimoto chronicled the legal battle between the families of those afflicted with Minamata Disease sufferers and Chisso Corp. that culminated in a landmark decision that granted compensation to the sufferers. Released in 1972 "Minamata: The Victims and Their World" was immediately controversial in a country where the status quo is honoured above all else, but Tsuchimoto didn't let this deter him. Before his death in 2008 at the age of 79 Tsuchimoto would return repeatedly to Minamata, making it and its people the subject of another 15 documentary films. CM

3. A - Tatsuya Mori (1998)

Japan is certainly a nation familiar with tragedy. From the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923 through the Allied bombing of WW2 that culminated in the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki the country has endured some monumental suffering. The sarin gas attacks by members of the Aum Shinrikyo cult on March 20th, 1995 traumatized the nation in a new and disturbing way though. These weren't impersonal natural disasters or the actions of a foreign aggressor, these were Japanese releasing poison gas in order to kill other Japanese, a concept that just didn't mesh with Japan's post-war peace. How could this have happened? Who were these Aum Shinrikyo followers? Why did they attack their fellow citizens, innocent people? These questions plagued the Japanese for years and they looked to one film for possible answers. Tatsuya Mori, who up to that point had made his living acting in independent films and making TV documentaries, somehow won the trust of the last straggling members of Aum Shinirkyo and was given unprecedented access to this secretive new age cult. Mori's camera is a silent witness to these last devotees as they meditate, chant, and watch the news reports of the trial of their leader Shoko Asahara and five of their comrades. Viewer's of Mori's documentary "A" may not have found answers they were looking for though. The members of the cult, including its media spokesperson Hisroshi Araki, are maddeningly evasive not only with the Japanese media camped out outside their compound, but with Mori himself. We soon realize that their vague statements that Asahara's motives were beyond simple human understanding and their contemplative silence masks a group of people equally as traumatized as the people of Tokyo. Without their leader on hand to dictate to them their thoughts and feelings "A" becomes a portrait of betrayed faith and profound spiritual crisis. CM

 2. A Man Vanishes - Shohei Imamura (1967)

Up to this point on our list we've highlighted films that have challenged the public's ideas and expectations on everything from war, politics and religion. They were also films that played with the technical and narrative conventions of documentary filmmaking, but none of the films that we've listed addressed the core assumption of the genre like Shohei Imamura's landmark 1967 film "A Man Vanishes". The film chronicles the investigation into the disappearance of plastics salesman Tadashi Oshima by his wife Yoshie. She interviews his family, friends and co-workers to try and piece together what may have lead to her husband vanishing. Was it because he embezzled money from his company? Was it because he got his mistress pregnant? Could Yoshie's own sister Sayoko hold the key to the mystery? As a straight documentary "A Man Vanishes" would be riveting enough, but Imamura seems to have other plans. He has actor Shigeru Tsuyuguchi, the star of Imamura's films "The Insect Woman" and "Intentions of Murder" accompany Yoshie on her interviews and when it becomes obvious that all their leg work won't bear any fruit this lonely women turns her attention to Tsuyuguchi. While most documentary filmmakers would be concerned that this kind of potential romance could damage the objectivity of their film Imamura, who appears on screen with Tsuyuguchi, seems delighted with this turn of events. "A Man Vanishes" becomes less and less about the missing Oshima-san and more about Tsuyuguchi, Yoshie, and her sister Sayoko, but the real surprise occurs when all of them meet in a tea house where Imamura reveals that the whole film was a fiction... or was it? Even though Imamura based the film on an actual missing person's case and included the players in the real life drama his point is crystal clear - no one can be truly objective and the relationship between filmmaker and subject will always be a fiction. CM

1. The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On - Kazuo Hara (1987)

We live in a world saturated by information, images, sensation, so much so that we find ourselves easily jaded. All of the above documentaries do a wonderful job enlightening, educating, entertaining, and challenging us, but none can equal the power of the number one documentary on our list to bridge the gap between the screen and our psyches and shake us out of our complacency with its shocking revelations. Originally planned as a Shohei Imamura film the "A Man Vanishes" director handed the story of Kenzo Okuzaki over to documentary filmmaker Kazuo Hara. Okuzaki, a 62-year-old veteran of the Pacific War, is focused on one thing and one thing only: truth. Approached by the families of two soldier who served with him in New Guinea Okuzaki sets out to discover why they were formally executed several days after Japan's surrender, a time when their superior officers had no power to do so. One by one Okuzaki tracks down his old unit members and commanders to get them to admit exactly why these men were killed and he uses any means necessary, including deception and violence, to secure their confessions. Whether it's loyalty to the families of the executed soldiers or his own survivor's guilt this one man Truth and Reconciliation Court manages to pry stories from his old comrades about the final harrowing days of the war that will leave even the most jaded viewer shaken. The stories about why the two soldiers were executed varies from man to man, but their recollections of the lengths to which they went in order to survive in the jungles of New Guinea remain nauseatingly similar. It's for these horrific reminiscences as well as for the truly elusive nature of any kind of absolute truth "The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On" is a worthy companion piece to such Japanese classics as Kon Ichikawa's "Fires on the Plain" and Akira Kurosawa's "Rashomon", but its basis in reality as opposed to fiction is what helps this documentary surpass both of these landmark films.   

Top Ten Sexiest Scenes in Japanese Film

While August in Japan tends to be the time when studios release horror films to help "chill" the country's over-heated movie audiences here in Canada summer is all about sun and sex. Well, maybe that's a bit of a stretch, but when all five of us Pow-Wow members chatted recently about what this month's Top Ten List would be our minds went straight to all things sexy. This this month we offer you our choices for our Top Ten Sexiest Scenes in japanese Film. Now, to make things "sexy" as opposed to "smutty" we decided to limit our choice to scenes from mainstream films as opposed to, say, pink films. We wanted to keep things work safe (at least in terms of images), plus we wanted to give you all a tour of the sexier side of films you may have already seen, or might seek out because of this list. So light some candles and out some Barry White music on and get ready to get sexy...

10. Trading One Secret for Another - from Rokuro Mochizuki's "Pandora: Hong Kong Leg" from "Jam Films"

Takami Yoshimoto has a secret: she suffers from terribly itchy athlete's foot. Desperate for a cure she heads to Chinatown, where she meets what could kindly be described as a manic caricature of a wise old Chinese herb dealer (Butoh/theater actor Akaji Maro). He guesses her secret and says he has a cure, leading her through alleyways and into a seemingly abandoned theater. There the stage is set with a regal red velvet throne set atop a large box. At the foot of the chair, there's a hole in the box. "Put your feet in there," the old Chinese man says, and when she does she discovers something surprising about herself. "Pandora" is maybe the least judgmental and most expressive film ever made about sexual fetishes. In a mere 15 minutes, director Rokuro Mochizuki presents us with three unnamed characters who are foot fetishist/subordinate/body worshiper, closet voluptuary, and voyeur. None is depicted as depraved or in need of help; by all accounts they each lead healthy, productive lives. It just so happens that those lives intersect onstage in a quiet fulfillment of sexual obsession. Yoshimoto plays her nameless protagonist with verve. As she writhes onstage fully clothed but for her bare feet, there's no questioning her ecstasy. It's one of the most erotically charged non-sex sex scenes I've ever seen. Further, try watching the first 2 minutes of the film with your eyes closed. In a clever bit of juxtaposition that hints at what's to come, the soundtrack's panting, moaning and rhythmic thumping is crafted to sound pinku but set over visuals that don't jibe… yet. EE

9. "Act Like a Samurai!" - from Akira Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai"

A minor yet intriguing subplot of Akira Kurosawa’s classic masterpiece “Seven Samurai” involves Katsushiro (Isao Kimura), the youngest of the titular heroes, and Shino (Keiko Tsushima), one of the peasants they must protect. Her father, the overprotective Manzo (Kamatari Fujiwara), attempts to disguise her as a boy so as to keep her from being seduced by the samurai. Yet that plan fails when Katsushiro discovers her true identity and soon after falls in love with her. Their story not only adds another moral dilemma to the film through their different classes, but also provides some romantic tension which noticeably increases as the village’s crucial battle draws closer and closer. Of the two of them, it is Shino who makes the advances while Katsushiro, who is otherwise quite eager to prove his worth as a man, comically reacts with hesitation and flat-out fear. The scene that most effectively highlights the nature of their relationship drops in on them as they relax and talk together in a flowery clearing. At the exact point when their conversation turns to more sensitive matters, Kurosawa masterfully cuts to an overwhelming close-up that has Shino’s face occupying the whole of the screen like a giant planet – perhaps the perfect depiction of Katsushiro’s terror-rattled, out-of-proportion perception of her. She then falls back on the ground and cries, “Coward! Act like a samurai!” as he looks on, trembling and unsure how to proceed. Though their romance grows more fiery later on in the film (quite literally, when they embrace in a hut as shadows of flames dance over their bodies), this scene perfectly articulates the supremely intimidating force that sex appears as through adolescent eyes. MSC

8. A Naked Embrace - from Yasuzo Masumura's "Manji"

Bored housewife Sonoko (played by Kyoko Kishida from "Woman In The Dunes") meets and pursues the younger beautiful Mitsuko. Director Yasuzo Masumura pushes boundaries in this 1964 film that, through an episodic look at their growing relationship, documents one woman's total and complete obsession. Even when Mitsuko is shown to be pulling many of the strings to create tense and awkward situations (she manages to involve not only Sonoko's husband, but her own fiancee as well), Sonoko is not deterred. There's plenty of lacivious behaviour in the film, but the sexiest scene is likely a mutual hug by the two ladies after they have disrobed. Mitsuko's body is peeking out of the wrapped sheet she has around her and after Sonoko devours the glimpse of her posterior with her eyes, she tears the sheet off her in strips with a ferociousness that she's never really known. As she sees Mitsuko's fully naked body, she slowly falls to her knees in front of her, just as she would were she about to pay tribute to some idol or statue of a God. Sonoko removes her clothing as well and approaches Mitsuko looking much more comfortable and with a much more confident air about her - even on a par with the sexual being in front of her. She gives her a fairly wicked smile as she moves in for the embrace and they begin to caress each other's bodies with zeal. BT

7. The Big Reveal - from Keisuke Kinoshita's "Carmen Comes Home"

Whoever said sex had to be serious? Certainly not Keisuke Kinoshita. Although Kinoshita is probably best known for his 1954 meldodramatic classic "Twenty-Four Eyes" one of the directors real claims to fame came three years prior when the execs at Shochiku managed to get their hands on a supply of Eastman Kodak 35mm colour film and decided that they wanted to dazzle movie audiences with sweeping vistas, natural wonders... and scantily clad ladies. The result was the musical comedy "Carmen Comes Home", which centered around the clash of cultures and morals betyween rural Japan and big city Tokyo. Pretty country girl Kin (Hideko Takamine) has spent the past couple of years living in Japan's capital and one day she returns to her parents meager homestead a totally changed woman. Decked out in colourful Western-style dresses and wearing garish make-up Kin, now calling herself Carmen after the seductive protagonist of Bizet's opera, has recreated herself as a cosmopolitan "artiste". In tow is Carmen's best friend Maya (Toshiko Kobayashi), an equally modern and equally sexy young woman who Carmen met during her time on the stage in Tokyo. The two indulge in much singing and dancing in the rolling green hills of Carmen's hometown. The local school prinicpal and mayor decide that they should allow Carmen and Maya to inject a bit of big city culture into their small town lives. The only problem is that as the two young women take the stage wearing very revealing outfits it quickly becomes obvious to the stunned audience of townsfolk that Carmen and Maya aren't ballerinas - they're burtlesque dancers! Kinoshita plays up the scene for laughs with the band on stage trying desperately to keep up with Carmen and Maya's bump and grind while the men in the audience can't keep their mouths from dropping open and their eyes from bugging out of their heads. While Takemine has gone down in Japanese film history as one of its screen actresses it's hard not to notice how good she looks in a bikini top and sarong, and once she and Toshiko Kobayashi finally strip down to nothing but their birthday suits the male viewers (and some female viewers as well) of "Carmen Comes Home" surely wish they could see what the audience members standing dumbfounded in the front row are getting a peek at. CM

6. Rainy Day Seduction - from Takeshi Kitano's "Sonatine"

I’m willing to bet that those who scan their mental catalogues of the sexiest moments in Japanese cinema won’t come up with Takeshi Kitano’s “Sonatine” right away. Like most, if not all, of the director’s work, the 1993 yakuza film has a very careful sense of pacing about it, emphasized by still, quiet moments, deadpan humor and shocking bursts of violence and bloodshed – not exactly the stuff wet dreams are made of. On top of that, the film is mainly male-dominated, focusing on a bunch of yakuza who escape to a deserted beach to lay low during a clan dispute. The crooks, led by Kitano’s Murakawa, make the most of their impromptu vacation by building sand traps, sumo wrestling, staging Roman candle battles and finding other ways to clown around. One night, Murakawa spots a pretty young woman struggling with a man who he swiftly neutralizes with his gun. So enters Miyuki (Aya Kokumai), who soon enough begins meeting with the thugs on a daily basis and joining in their fun and games. Being as attractive as she is, she definitely adds a refreshing dynamic of sexuality to the film through her presence alone. But it isn’t until she and Murakawa get caught in a rain shower while walking together that she really starts to heat things up. They both take shelter under a tree and simply look at each other for a few seconds. Then, without saying anything or revealing any sense of shyness or hesitation, she removes her top. Thus, in one swift move, she adds so much more to her nature and relationship with the tired gangster – while simultaneously dropping a veritable h-bomb of sex appeal. Later on, when she mournfully wanders the beach alone and spends a few final moments with Murakawa, she comes to embody most poignantly the familiar feelings of nostalgia and sadness that accompany the end of summer just as the yakuza’s holiday closes. But for hotness alone, even though she looks great throughout all of Kitano’s film, she never again quite reaches the ridiculously high level achieved in just a handful of smoldering frames in that rain shower sequence. MSC

5. Horny Little Devil - from Eiichi Yamamoto's "Belladonna of Sadness"

Most people don't think of sex when they think of Osamu Tezuka. The "God of Manga" created such iconic characters as Astro Boy, Kimba the White Lion and Black Jack, but he also founded the animation studio Mushi Productions in the early 1960's to make animated versions of his manga creations. By the early 1970's though Mushi Pro was suffering finacially and Tezuka lefthe company which ended up carrying on without him. In a doomed attempt to ease its financial woes Mushi Pro began making erotic animated films such as "Cleopatra", an X-rated feature-length animated film about the Egyptian queen. That was followed up by director Eiichi Yamamoto's even more daring (both artistically and sexually) 1973 animated film titled "Belladonna of Sadness". This psychedelic passion play took its inspiration from French writer Jules Michelet's 1862 book "La Sorcière" which chronicled the history of wichcraft in Europe. Yamamoto and his screenwriting partner Yoshiyuki Fukuda took Michelet's endless examples of sexually-related magic rituals and wrapped them around the story of a girl named Jeanne (voiced by actress Aiko Nagayama) who is raped on her wedding night by the local lord. This terrible crime breaks up her marriage even before it can start and sets Jeanne down the road of sexual damnation. While Jeanne's rape is based in reality its the fantastic scene in which she first meets the Devil (voiced by screen legend Tatsuya Nakadai) that puts it firmly in the middle of our sexiest moments list. The Devil first appears to Jeanne as a tiny cowled figure, only a few inches tall with a bald dome of a head. Let me repeat that... a few inches tall (or long) with a domed head. Yes, we quickly see the visual similarity between the Devil and a flaccid penis, but this horny little devil doesn't stay flaccid for long. The scene has the Devil simulating a handjob in Jeanne's palm before growing in size, sliding down her breasts and ultimately hiding himself away under her skirt. The expected moans and groans from Jeanne follow as the Devil goes entirely from demon to genitalia. Daring in 1973 and still daring today this scene doesn't just get Jeanne's juices flowing, it gets ours flowing as well. CM

4. Monsoon Masturbation - from Shinya Tsukamoto's "A Snake of June"

When I first read about "A Snake of June", I was a tad unsure of what to expect. I mean this is the guy who gave us assaultive, sensory overload marvels such as "Tetsuo" and "Tokyo Fist". Are his body horror thematic elements able to cross over into the world of sexuality? The answer, hell yes! Shigehiko and his wife Rinko have a physically loveless relationship. That is until Iguchi steps in, bursting open Rinko’s doors of repressed sexuality. But breaking her obsessive-compulsive husband out of his prison won’t be as easy, so Rinko, with the help of Iguchi, a vibrator, a sexy black dress and some stalking photography comes up with a plan. Luring her husband into following her, she ends her catwalk in a dark alley where a car awaits. She then takes said vibrator and puts it to use, moaning and groaning in the pouring rain as Iguchi sits in his car, snapping photo after photo. She rips off her clothes, but continues with her self-stimulated pleasure, until her husband, spying from behind a corner, can take it no more and begins to pleasure himself. Soon, we are witness to a ménage a trois of sexual stimulus as all three climax in a collage of monsoon imagery. Narratively, the setup for this scene is amazing, and whilst full of masturbation, nudity and voyeurism, manages to remain completely non-exploitation, believe it or not. You’ve got a naked woman pleasuring herself with a vibrator in the rain, a man spying on her and masturbating and a voyeur in a car snapping photo after photo of this woman in ecstasy, and its incredibly sexy and incredibly beautiful. Hand it to Tsukamoto to be able to create this astounding montage of flashing bulbs, pouring rain, and moans of pleasure. If the imagery isn’t enough to astound you, the frenetic but completely intentional way in which is it’s edited surely will. This is sexy, sexy stuff, chiefly because it focuses on the sexual liberation these people are partaking in. MH

3. A Feast for the Senses - from Juzo Itami's "Tampopo"

Sexy isn't just about sex and it's certainly not just about whatever plumbing is going on between someone's legs. For something to be truly sexy all the senses need to be engaged - sight, hearing, smell, of course touch and also taste. The taste of a lover's kiss is often the appetizer to a whole feast of pleasures; but in Juzo Itami's worldwide 1985 comedy hiot "Tampopo" a kiss is combined with food and taste in a sensual display never before seen in film history and one still unrivaled today. While the main plot of "Tampopo" revolves around a woman, Itami's wife and frequent collaborator Nobuko Miyamoto, who is schooled by a cowboy truck driver (Tsutomu Yamazaki) in the art of making a perfect bowl of ramen Itami includes a variety of unrelated scenes and recurring sub-plots that explore Japan's love affair with food. One of these sub-plots involves a sauve gangster played by a young Koji Yakusho and his girlfriend played by Fukumi Kuroda. The two spend most of the film confined to a hotel room where they order a smorgasbord of delicacies from room service. These gourmet delights aren't just gobbled down though, they're used in scene after scene of exquisite and and endlessly inventive lovemaking. Yes, the scenes of the two, including a frequently nude Kuroda are definitely titilating, but Itami goes from just titilating to outrageously sexy by using one simple prop - an egg yolk. Just after it seems like our gangster and his moll have finally brought their passionate marathon to an end Yakusho comes up behind Kuroda, wraps his arms around her and takes an egg from the table. He cracks it and delicately seperates the yolk from the uncooked white. He then takes sips the raw yolk into his mouth and carefully lets it drop in between Kuroda's lips. Their bodies pressed together the two shift the yolk between each other's mouths again and again until it finally break and dribbles down Kuroda's chin as she moans in pleasure. It's a scene that defines sexy. (Is it getting hot in here our is it just me...?) CM

2. Indoor shower - from Shohei Imamura's "Warm Water Under A Red Bridge"

Trust Shohei Imamura to craft a gentle, adult, magical realism-tinged romance about love and projectile female ejaculate. Played in every conceivable way as a straight drama (yet tellingly cross-categorized as drama, romance and comedy by IMDB), "Warm Water Under A Red Bridge" follows out-of-work salaryman Yosuke (Koji Yakusho) on a trip to fulfill a dying friend's wish: Go to a certain house by the river in a small town and retrieve the treasure left there decades earlier. What Yosuke finds is Saeko (Misa Shimizu), a woman of impulse with a somewhat unique physical attribute. Note the moisture on the window pictured above. That's not rain. When Yosuke sees her shoplift but says nothing, Saeko recognizes in him-—what? Kindred spirit? Kind soul? Whatever it is, she takes to him in a direct, uncomplicated seduction that depicts her as both wanton and vulnerable. The film's few sex scenes are frank and speak to the power of pure chemistry: These two damaged people are right for one another from the moment they share a gaze, and their bodies won't let them deny it. Imamura's film is part fable and Saeko is a Snow White awaiting her shabby prince. Her bright red blouse echoes the bright red of the family parrot, an exotic bird in an otherwise drab fishing village. When Yosuke crosses that red bridge to find his princess, he leaves his old life behind and steps into a storybook of passion. EE

1. Dirty Sweaty Sex - from Hiroshi Teshigahara's "Woman in the Dunes"

Leave it to Hiroshi Teshigahara to top our countdown. Also of note, Kyoko Kishida makes another appearance on the list (with both the films being released in 1964) as the titular woman in the dunes. Is it surprising that with all that sand around the place, that this is one of the dirtiest and sweatiest sex scenes one can bring to mind? Kishida plays a woman determined to save her house from the slowly encroaching sand dunes. A travelling scientist is encouraged by the local townsfolk to stay in her abode for the night, but finds that he is unable to leave the following morning due to the flowing sand all around him. Initially he tries to escape, but finally ends up becoming accustomed to his new life and the woman with whom he will share it. At one point she asks him whether all women in cities are beautiful. He dismisses her comment and begins to clean her by wiping down her sweat with a cloth. His simple touches and strokes on her back begin to make her shudder and she starts to breathe heavily. As the camera winds its way around her ever tensing body, it captures little details like her toes curling, her hand reaching back to caress him and the caked on dirt on their bodies. Even the soundtrack itself begins to bristle with anticipation as the couple drop any pretense of cleansing themselves and fall to the ground to make love in the sandy ground. It's a rousing scene... 

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Top Ten Favorite Scenes in Japanese Cinema: Bob Turnbull

We've already posted Eric Evans' and Marc Saint Cyr's top ten favorite scenes in Japanese cinema, so today we continue on with selections by Bob Turnbull. Keep checking back for our last two lists from Matt Hardstaff and Chris MaGee in the coming weeks.

10. A masked figure in the field - Onibaba (Kaneto Shindo, 1964)

After trapping and murdering yet another samurai lost in the swampy marshes, a middle aged woman removes the mask he was wearing before abandoning his body in a large hole (alongside many others). She and her daughter-in-law have been living off the personal effects of these men, but now the older woman is afraid that she's about to be abandoned. The younger woman has found herself a new lover to replace her long lost (and presumed dead) husband and has taken to sneaking out for middle of the night trysts. In this particular scene, she is eagerly running to him as the wind rustles the grass and the moon lights up sections of the field like a spotlight. Out of nowhere, the masked older woman moves forward out of the dark with outstretched arms and absolutely terrifies the young woman. She scampers back to their hut wondering what it was that she saw. The mother-in-law is determined to prevent these late night rendezvous and continues to frighten the young woman by using the mask. But there are consequences...This film is one long atmospheric play of shadows - from the blowing fields of tall grass to the shafts of light within their hut. It remains one of the most glorious looking films ever shot in black and white and this scene is a centerpiece.

9. The Forest Spirit - Princess Mononoke (Hayao Miyazaki, 1997)

Possibly the single reason that I became interested in delving further into anime films was my first viewing of this 1997 masterpiece of creativity from Hayao Miyazaki. As stunning as the entire film is, my fate was sealed when this scene occurred late in the film. Specifically, the exact moment when the majestic forest spirit - looking something like a combination of a deer, yak and sheepdog wearing some variety of African mask - feels the sting of the first shot fired at it by hunters. There's an immediate change to its face as its eyes grow wide, its mask like features disappear and it begins to sink into the water upon which it was walking. The suddenness of this event was much like a punch to the gut and its a feeling I expect could only have been achieved with hand-drawn animation. The spirit regains its footing and all manner of mystical and magical things begin to happen, but it was already over for me. That feeling of awe remained and I was hooked.

8. High treason - Throne Of Blood (Akira Kurosawa, 1957)

Things aren't going well for Lord Washizu. His troops are questioning his decisions and the camouflaged enemies outside are closing in. He yells at his men and insists they press on and hold their stations. Someone fires an arrow at him and narrowly misses. He attacks them verbally by calling them all cowards, but down deep he knows he's lost them. More arrows fly. "Murdering a Great Lord is high treason!" he screams, but the comeback, "Who killed our last Lord?" stops him from further debate (since he ascended to this position of power via force). Whap, whap, whap - several arrows land in his chest. He pulls them out and scrambles in a panic. Now filled with more confidence, the troops throw more and more at him and begin to advance. The arrows stream at him in bunches, whistle as they fly by and rattle the wooden wall as they hit. A wide camera shot shows the arrows actually flying across the high balcony on which he is trapped. He looks for an escape, but an arrow to the back freezes him. He backs down some stairs, scrambles and then...one through the neck. Silence. A final push forward. Troops scurry backwards. A frozen grimace. A slow reach for his sword. Collapse.

7. The wife's first return - Survive Style 5+ (Gen Sekiguchi, 2004)

In the first of 5 overlapping, intersecting, funny and warped stories about how people deal with what is dealt to them (ie. how they survive), Tadanobu Asano plays a man who has just killed and buried his wife. Upon returning home, he encounters her calmly sitting at the table in her bright green dress. Without saying a word, she whips up an enormous feast for him and sits quietly watching while he slowly polishes it all off. Just as he sits back to light up an after dinner smoke (perhaps thinking that he's dodged a bullet), he looks up to see her looming over him poised for attack - which she does with a huge flying kick to his head. As he soars backward in slow motion, the soundtrack kicks in with a driving tune entitled "Go! Go! Go!" and she begins to chase him around their brightly coloured house and connecting all manner of uppercuts and flying kicks (all in slow-mo). It's a massive burst of energy and beautifully sets up the rest of this candy-coloured movie which looks at times like a vat of jelly beans exploded on the set. The fight continues while we jump briefly to the other stories (memorably to the family of the third story singing "Go! Go! Go!" loudly in their car) until it ends suddenly - setting up her second return later in the film (and then third and fourth...). This was where I fell for Asano as an actor - his deadpan straight face morphs into wild eyed disbelieving panic and you can almost feel some sympathy for him. Not quite, but almost.

6. Initial character introductions - Battles Without Honor And Humanity (Kinji Fukasaku, 1973)

A three and a half minute sequence at the very beginning of this epic 9 hour story (split over 5 films) not only kicks things off with a bang, but also sets the tone for what is to follow. It introduces in quick succession 10 separate characters by using hand held cameras, freeze frames and rapid cutting to show the confusion and desperation these men are currently facing. Having just returned home from the war (the film starts in 1946), these men are frustrated and see little to no opportunities ahead for them. Therefore the yakuza easily fall into place as an option. Our first encounter is with Shozo Hirono (played throughout the entire set of films by Bunta Sugawara) and he's immediately shown to be tough, scrappy and a man of principle. As we meet the others, things start to get bloody pretty fast which is very much in keeping with what their lives will become. When violence occurs in their world, it's quick and usually very messy. It's an exhausting way to start the proceedings and it's hard to keep up with, but it's very apropos.

5. Dream sequence - Black Tight Killers (Yasuharu Hasebe, 1966)

Any film with a weapon called the Ninja chewing gum bullet simply cannot be bad. Enter Yasuharu Hasebe's 1966 film "Black Tight Killers" - a film seemingly designed to put a big smile on my face. It takes what could have been a lame Z-grade picture and enlivens the story by making use of the medium to help tell it. A rainbow of colour, surreal sets, plenty of shadows and every possible camera angle are all used to move the story forward instead of relying on too much exposition. It isn't really much of a plot, but if you also have a whole whack of go-go dancers, female ninjas and guys in trenchcoats things should at least stay interesting. My favourite moment comes during a dream Daisuke (Akira Kobayashi) is having in which poor Yoriko is being chased by those pesky Black Tight Killers. She crashes through several brightly coloured paper walls one after another and each time finds herself surrounded by a different hue and little to no other defining characteristics to the area around her. The non-dream world of the film isn't actually much different at times (given its changing background colours, etc.), but this scene stands out in a film filled with great images.

4. Three consecutive killings - Branded To Kill (Seijun Suzuki, 1967)

Seijun Suzuki brings such a sense of fun and creativity to his filmmaking that I could have easily made a Top 10 list consisting of only scenes from his films. The wonderful ending of "Tattooed Life", the opening of "Take Aim At The Police Van" or pretty much any random scene from the stream of consciousness "Pistol Opera" could have vied for a spot on this list, but I have to go back to the film that got me started with the man: his last feature with Nikkatsu Studios called "Branded To Kill". Of course, it's still hard to pin it down to one scene within this movie since the whole thing is a touchstone in visual storytelling and pretty much the antithesis of exposition (is it any surprise Hasebe learned part of his craft with Suzuki?). Out of all the strange goings on, rice sniffing, botched assassination attempts and mysterious women, I have to pick the rapid fire sequence of Hanada's take down of three separate targets - each one more ridiculous than the one before it. The first victim gets it via a long rifle shot as Hanada hides behind a huge lighter on a billboard while the second, an optometrist, meets his maker through the plumbing of his sink. After dispatching the third, Hanada escapes by jumping out the window of the high rise and onto the top of a hot air balloon that is lifting into the air. That's how good this guy is.

3. Snowstorm - Kwaidan (Masaki Kobayashi, 1964)

Two men are wandering through the forest trying to get back to their village when a blizzard whips snow and cold all around them. Disoriented, they struggle to stay on their feet while the heavens watch their every move through what seem to be hundreds of wispy, painted swirls. These lovely and colourful eyes in the sky open up the second of four ghost stories in Masaki Kobayashi's Cannes-praised and highly influential "Kwaidan" (which essentially translates to "ghost story"). The painted backdrops add a very surreal feel to the story (titled "The Woman Of The Snow") of a female spirit that encounters these two men and threatens to kill the surviving one if he ever reveals what he has seen that day. As with many of the older Japanese horror stories, sound is a major component in getting across the spookiness of the situation, but in this case it is matched by the stunning visuals. Kobayashi's camera swoops in and around the forest providing an omniscient eye to the situation and a feeling that the men will not easily escape what lies ahead. Still one of the greatest films ever made about ghosts.

2. Crab lady - Pulse (Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2001)

"Pulse" (aka "Kairo") is not your average doomsday movie. The resulting ugly, grey, abandoned world is still very much the same, but it happens bit by bit, person by person. It's an end of the world scenario where humanity actually participates somewhat willingly. While more and more people are getting connected to the Internet (in the day when modems were still commonplace), there seems to be a greater disconnect in the population as a whole. The streets are becoming deserted, people are staying inside their personal shelters and the souls of the dead have made their way back to our world. In this scene, a young man enters an abandoned room (friendly tip: if a room is sealed off with red tape, do NOT go into it) and encounters a ghostly presence that slowly starts to drift towards him. You can barely see her in the shadows, so you begin to extrapolate a bit and make assumptions about where she'll be in the next few seconds. When her right leg buckles, it's a bit off-putting to say the least, but even worse when she steadies herself and then continues on. What I love even more about this scene, though, is the sound field. Kurosawa creates an overwhelming dread that just drips off the screen. Whether it's things that go bump in the night or a sudden loud crash that jump starts your heart, he knows that sound is an essential component to being frightened. The unforgettable images are paired with eerie moans, almost inaudible low rumbling and, worst of all, occasionally no sound at all - in particular when the female ghost begins to move and the sound drops out completely. It's as if the ghost has simply sucked out all the sound around you. That's just creepy as hell.

1. Final band performance - Linda, Linda Linda (Nobuhiro Yamashita, 2005)

A good scene can stand on its own. You can show it to friends who haven't even seen the movie or watch it as a stand alone and still enjoy it completely out of context. I fully admit that I've watched this particular scene numerous times by itself and it puts a huge smile on my face each and every run through. What makes a good scene great, though, is how much better it becomes when viewed within the context of the film. That's what puts these closing moments of "Linda, Linda, Linda" on my list. By this point in the film, we've spent a great deal of time with these 4 girls getting to know them and watching their struggles through not only learning their songs, but also through the obstacle course that is their teenage years. So when they take the stage to finally participate in the school rock festival, you're almost as nervous as they are and you revel in their success. The rush to the stage of the kids in the audience may be a bit cheesy, but it's well-earned since they power through a couple of classic punk-pop covers from famed Japanese band The Blue Hearts. Throughout the scene we catch glimpses in the audience of other characters from the film - not to wrap up any story lines, but to show that this is just a moment in all of their lives. Relationships don't mend at the drop of a hat and young love is complicated and confusing, so these characters have much more to figure out. As a special bonus, the performance of the title song is followed by an even bouncier tune that plays over empty locations from earlier in the film. I could have easily picked one of the closing scenes from director Nobuhiro Yamashita's lovely follow-up film "A Gentle Breeze In The Village" (as the young girl says goodbye to her old schoolhouse) since it is another scene that benefits greatly from all the time spent with the character. This is the one that I keep coming back to though - a scene filled with exuberance and joy that is simply contagious.

The J-Film Pow-Wow Top 100 Favorite Japanese Films

The J-Film Pow-Wow has been going for nearly four years now and during that time we've reported on the annual Top Ten lists put out by various online and print sources and Chris, Bob, Marc, Matt and Eric have spent our fair share of time scouring and critiquing other people's Top 100 lists of Japanese films. It got to the point where we thought we'd put ourselves out there with our own list, something beyond our monthly Top Ten lists. With that in mind we pooled our collective movie-going experiences and have come up with the J-Film Pow-Wow's own Top 100 Japanese Films list.

Now, before you read on you should keep something in mind. This list was tabulated by all five of the Pow-Wow crew making lists of their own favorite Japanese films - not films we felt were historically important and not films that parroted other lists that have created the present canon of Japanese cinema. Our main concern was to come up with films that we held a real heartfelt love for. Once we drew up our lists we ranked them, assigned a points system and cross referenced all five to come up with this Top 100 list. There are some obvious picks ranking in obvious positions, there are some critically-favoured films in the Japanese film canon that didn't fare as well, and there are a lot of surprises. Those are the films on the list we're all most excited about.

So read on, enjoy and please have your say in the comments afterwards. We hope that this list, like all we do here on the J-Film Pow-Wow, leads you to explore films you may have only ever heard of, or have never heard off. Happy exploring!

Youth of the Beast

100. A Last Note (dir. Kaneto Shindo, 1995)

Kaneto Shindo's story of a group of senior actors spending their last summer together made while the film's star (and his wife) Nobuko Otowa was fighting a losing battle against liver cancer. The poignancy comes across and makes us wonder why this gem isn't better known in the West.

99. Youth of the Beast (dir. Seijun Suzuki, 1963)

Jo Shishido survives being blown up in a house while he's hanging upside down, then manages to swing himself to a gun, fight off two remaining yakuza, shoot himself free and finish them off - do you really need to know more than that?

98. Yojimbo (dir. Akira Kurosawa, 1961)

A list of our favorite Japanese films wouldn’t be complete without the one that introduced the world to Toshiro Mifune’s unforgettable ronin. In addition to the great actor’s pitch-perfect performance (possibly the finest example of his feral manly-man act), "Yojimbo" provides a gleefully entertaining yarn as only Kurosawa at the top of his game could pull off.

97. Shinobi no Mono 2 (dir. Satsuo Yamamoto, 1963)

If the first "Shinobi No Mono" was the film that made ninja’s legendary, using real techniques and historical backdrops, it's the second one that creates an epic, bloody and emotional narrative that solidified the influence the 8 part series would generate. The best of the series by far.

96. Double Suicide (dir. Masahiro Shinoda, 1969)

A classic bunraku puppet play by Monzaemon Chikamatsu is melded with the daring New Wave vision of director Masahiro Shinoda. Equal parts traditional and avant-garde the story of a merchant attempting to redeem a prostitute is a visual and dramatic feast.

95. Wife to be Sacrificed (dir. Masaru Konuma, 1974)

A classic of erotic/ exploitation cinema starring one of the queen's of pink film, Naomi Tani. Like the San Francisco Chronicle said in its original review of the film, "It’s like watching a sexual madhouse."

94. Ornamental Hairpin (dir. Hiroshi Shimizu, 1941)

Hiroshi Shimizu makes fine use of Ozu favorite Chishu Ryu in this bittersweet, multi-layered tale of routine, escape and love set during one summer at a country inn.

93. Funky Forest: The First Contact (dir. Katsuhito Ishii, 2005)

Dreams mixing with reality is a common theme in "Funky Forest", so it makes sense that it would flit between skits, sketches, recurring characters and some of the strangest sights you'll ever see - all the while doing it with a firm grasp of the silly and the absurd.

92. 13 Assassins (dir. Takashi Miike, 2010)

Takashi Miike embraces a conventional jidai geki story and infuses in with an energy all his own, and the result is a modern classic of the genre.

91. Erotic Diary of an Office Lady (dir. Masaru Konuma, 1977)

From the prime of Pinku, this Masaru Konuma film’s narrative captures both the drudgery of real life and the transcendent power of sex. While perhaps not as flashy as other films in the genre, a scene featuring a young couple surrendering to passion on the tatami floor of a small room full of baby chicks is a standout.

Horrors of Malformed Men

90. Pitfall (dir. Hiroshi Teshigahara, 1962)

A touchstone in Japanese horror filmmaking for its use of sound and its mix of numerous themes, Teshigahara's first film still retains a creepily effective power over viewers.

89. Woman in the Dunes (dir. Hiroshi Teshigahara, 1964)

Existentialist stories don’t always work as cinema, but Kobo Abe’s allegory for man’s place in work and society succeeds largely due to director Hiroshi Teshigahara’s moody visuals.

88. Vortex and Others (dir. Yoshihiro Ito, 2001-2008)

Is it possible to combine the disturbing imagination of David Lynch, the creative daring of Seijun Suzuki and the abusrd sense of humour of Haruki Murakami? It is and the man who does it is film-maker Yoshihiro Itoh in this quintet of fascinating shorts that desperately need to be seen in North America.

87. Tokyo Sonata (dir. Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2008)

Kiyoshi Kurosawa pulls back the curtain on modern Japan to reveal the Sasakis, an average Japanese family who will lie to others and to themselves about everything that matters to maintain an unrealistic facade of tradition. A gripping and intense showcase for actors Teruyuki Kagawa and Kyoko Koizumi, whose characters prove average is anything but ordinary.

86. Samurai Spy (dir. Masahiro Shinoda, 1965)

Warring factions and displaced samurai make the perfect breeding ground not only for spies, but for some of the most beautifully shot black and white cinematography you'll ever see.

85. Ninja Scroll (dir. Yoshiaki Kawajiri, 1993)

Weaving historical characters, demonic mythos, and insane anime action, "Ninja Scroll" is an amazing kaleidoscope of influences funneled through the mind of Yoshiaki Kawajiri.

84. Welcome Back, Mr. McDonald (dir. Koki Mitani, 1997)

What happens when you simply change a name in a radio play? Writer and director Koki Mitani weaves a madcap comedy around the result of this seemingly inconsequential last minute re-write. Watch out for superstar Ken Watanabe as a lone truck driver listening in on the action.

83. Terror of Mechagodzilla (dir. Ishiro Honda, 1975)

Originally Gojira was a dark, compelling metaphor for the atomic bomb and many decry the way he became a pro-wrestling children’s favorite, but the goofier Godzilla movies have an insight into a child’s logic and sense of wonder that I find irresistible.

82. Horrors of Malformed Men (dir. Teruo Ishii, 1969)

The perverse tales of Edogawa Rampo as told by the radical Teruo Ishii, with a little butoh through in for good measure, "Horrors of Malformed Men" is a cinematic experience like no other, and is a precursor too much of the extreme visual and narrative story telling that would follow in the 1970’s and beyond.

81. Cure (dir. Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 1997)

Kiyoshi Kurosawa's perfectly controlled masterpiece contains a terrifying idea: anyone can be made to kill.

Tokyo Twilight

80. Zatoichi’s Revenge (dir. Akira Inoue, 1964)

More or less chose this Katsu-Shin blind swordsman film at random from the middle of the pack, which was when the series had established its rhythm. Cookiecutter? To some degree perhaps, but we think cookies are delicious.

79. Mind Game (dir. Masaaki Yuasa, 2004)

Masaaki Yuasa takes our idea of what "anime" is and blows it up, sweeps up the pieces and then blows them up again. This story of hell, purgatory and ultimately heaven was the film to put STUDIO4°C on the map.

78. All About Lily Chou-Chou (dir. Shunji Iwai, 2001)

Full props to writer and director Shunji Iwai for handling this story of teenage misfits and the pop idol they adore so well, yet his collaborators deserve just as much praise – especially the young central actors, cinematographer Noboru Shinoda and musician Salyu.

77. Armchair Theory (dir. Junji Kojima, 2004)

One of the funniest looks at love and the dating game ever committed to film. The stand out short from the 2004 "Jam Films" collection.

76. Tokyo Twilight (dir. Yasujiro Ozu, 1957)

This underrated Ozu uses monochrome cinematography to its full advantage as it drops in on a family burdened with secrets and regrets in the midst of a gloomy winter.

75. Swing Girls (dir. Shinobu Yaguchi, 2004)

“Zero to hero” comedies have become a huge element in contemporary Japanese cinema due largely to the artictic and commercial success of this film, which is breezy and charming and made Juri Ueno a star.

74. Naked of Defenses (dir. Masahide Ichii, 2008)

Former comedian Masahide Ichii breaks our hearts with this story of two women, one pregnant and one infertile, who grow to hate and eventually love each other. In this age of manga adaptations and TV spin-offs it's wonderful to see film about human relationships that can go toe-to-toe with the Golden Age classics.

73. Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in the Land of Demons (dir. Kenji Misumi, 1973)

"Lone Wolf and Cub", one of the most incredibly rich manga narratives by writer Kazuo Koike and artist Goseki Kojima was adapted into a 6 film series before the manga was even completed, and part 5, "Baby Cart in the Land of Demons", by the great Kenji Misumi is not only the best of the series, but also one of the great samurai epics.

72. Zero Focus (dir. Yoshitaro Nomura, 1961)

So few mystery films really do keep audiences guessing, but here’s a film that really does keep you in the dark until the final reel. Add to that that it incorporates a hard-hitting look at post-war poverty and you have a masterpiece on your hands.

71. Three Resurrected Drunkards (dir. Nagisa Oshima, 1968)

An exuberant work of pop art from a particularly inspired phase of Nagisa Oshima’s fascinating career. Its playful, anything-goes spirit meshes strangely well with its accusatory stance towards such issues as the Vietnam War and mistreatment of Korean immigrants by the Japanese.

Pastoral: To Die in the Country

70. Samurai Rebellion (dir. Masaki Kobayashi, 1967)

Director Masaki Kobayashi subtly creates a masterpiece of storytelling. It creeps up on you, sucks you in and makes you feel as outraged as Isaburo Sasahara (Toshiro Mifune) himself.

69. Ring (dir. Hideo Nakata, 1998)

The most influential horror film of the last 20 years, Hideo Nakata forever changed the landscape not only in his native country, but also on a global scale, taking the classic Onryo from Japanese folklore and infusing it with a technological sensibility. Plus, he reworked the ending of Koji Suzuki’s novel and added a Cronenberg twist.

68. Kikujiro (dir. Takeshi Kitano, 1999)

Critics may not have been kind to Kitano’s follow-up to his Golden Lion-winning “Hana-bi”. Still “Kikujiro” isn’t just magical because of its boy in search of his mother plot, but because it comprises all that Kitano had learned about film-making up to that point. A wonderful journey!

67. Dodes’ka-den (dir. Akira Kurosawa, 1970)

This curio of Kurosawa’s career deserves a place among the greatest color debuts – scratch that, the greatest color films period. Yet it is far more than a bold display of style, as proven by the hope and compassion contained within its assorted stories of Tokyo slum dwellers.

66. Departures (Dir. Yojiro Takita, 2008)

Conventional and safe yet near-perfectly executed, the 2009 best foreign film Oscar-winner has proven to be borderless despite its dour subject matter. It turns out respect, grief, and loss don’t have language barriers.

65. Tokyo Story (dir. Yasujiro Ozu, 1953)

An emblematic film from Ozu’s career and, yes, quite possibly his crowning achievement. It serves quite nicely as either an introduction to or apex of his heart-wrenching examinations of family bonds and the trademark eloquence he uses to conduct them.

64. Pastoral: To Die in the Country (dir. Shuji Terayama, 1974)

Avant-garde film-maker Shuji Teryama is a name that needs to be better known in the West and we believe his 1974 semi-biographical surreal masterpiece “Pastoral: To Die in the Country” is the film to do it. Audiences love the craziness of Seijun Suzuki, so why not Terayama?

63. Only Yesterday (dir. Isao Takahata, 1991)

Though less fantastical than most of the Studio Ghibli offerings, Isao Takahata's follow-up to "Grave Of The Fireflies" is filled with just as much wonder and gorgeous animation.

62. Jigoku (dir. Nobuo Nakagawa, 1960)

Nobuo Nakagawa moved on from his folk tale influenced horror films and made a gory descent into hell that whilst at the time was failure critically, is a visual masterpiece, the likes of which have rarely been matched.

61. Rashomon (dir. Akira Kurosawa, 1950)

This Kurosawa classic easily makes any list of "best" or "most influential" films (even without restrictions to the confines of Japan), but it makes our favourites list because it's multiple viewpoint story is so easily re-watchable.

Linda, Linda, Linda

60. Ghost in the Shell (dir. Mamoru Oshii, 1995)

Nest to Katsuhiro Otomo’s “Akira” there isn’t another film that has had more influence on anime and the world of science fiction at large than Mamoru Oshii’s futuristic detective story.

59. Dolls (dir. Takeshi Kitano, 2002)

While many of Takeshi Kitano’s previous films demonstrate his artistic merits as a director, it is this one that elevates him to master status. His skills with color, editing and pacing are shown off in three artfully interwoven tales about love’s transience.

58. A Gentle Breeze in the Village (dir. Nobuhiro Yamashita, 2007)

Like the feeling of a cool summer breeze flashing across your cheek, Nobuhiro Yamashita's story about one young girl transitioning to adulthood is also a paean to a simpler life.

57. Giants and Toys (dir. Yasuzo Masumura, 1958)

A vicious satire of Japanese business practices and blind loyalty to superiors - “Giants and Toys” would be an impressive film today, but the fact that this was made over 50-years ago makes it downright astounding. It also helps that it’s funny and wildly entertaining.

56. The Hidden Blade (dir. Yoji Yamada, 2004)

Of Yoji Yamada’s trilogy of quiet, dramatic samurai films based on stories by Shuhei Fujisawa, this film is by far the most moving, and features a very restrained Masatoshi Nagase as the man with the secret technique.

55. Black Tight Killers (dir. Yasuharu Hasebe, 1966)

The band of female Ninjas who wield tape measures, old 45 singles and the Ninja chewing gum bullet as their stock weapons are just one of many reasons to fall for the regular-guy-becomes-undercover-spy plot of "Black Tight Killers". It's continually surprising, wonderfully cinematic and designed for maximum fun. Mission accomplished.

54. Zatoichi (Dir. Takeshi Kitano, 2003)

Now this is a reboot. Takeshi Kitano reinvents Katsu-Shin’s blind swordsman yet manages to hit all the necessary beats, crafting a film that is new yet comfortable, and extremely watchable.

53. Doing Time (dir. Yoichi Sai, 2002)

Yocihi Sai takes every aspect of the prison film genre and turns them on their ear. This adaptation of Kazuichi Hanawa’s autobiographical manga makes prison seem more like a Buddhist monastery than a correctional facility… and we in the audience can’t help following the gentle plotline.

52. The Funeral (dir. Juzo Itami, 1984)

Actor Juzo Itami made a nearly perfect first film with his look at a grieving family planning the funeral of their patriarch. All the humour, sexiness and satire of Itami’s later films like “Tampopo” and “A Taxing Woman” is here and fantastically played.

51. Linda, Linda, Linda (dir. Nobuhiro Yamashita, 2005)

Nobuhiro Yamashita's film about 4 teenage girls in a band practicing for that big final concert is not frenetic, has few costume changes and doesn't contain a single montage - and it's all the better for it as it concentrates on these young girls who haven't got it all figured, but seem to be off to a good start.

All Around Us

50. Hana-bi (dir. Takeshi Kitano, 1997)

Kitano’s award-winner is bleak, funny, and beautiful.

49. Dead or Alive (dir. Takashi Miike, 1999)

See Sho Aikawa and Riki Takeuchi butt heads in Miike’s famously delirious gangster drama, which combines cinematic adrenaline rushes and bizarre imagery with a downright Shakespearian story of family and loyalty.

48. Survive Style 5+ (Dir. Gen Sekiguchi, 2004)

Vibrant candy coloured explosions of fun burst from every frame of this film as it barrels through its five main stories with reckless abandon taking side routes, stopping to enjoy the scenery and then continuing to careen all over the screen crashing from one plot point to another.

47. My Neighbour Totoro (dir. Hayao Miyazaki, 1988)

The purest distillation of Hiyao Miyazaki’s whimsy, with character design for the ages. His later films have more scope and spectacle but “Totoro” feels like a fairy tale that’s always been there and always will be.

46. Maborosi (dir. Hirokazu Koreeda, 1995)

Hirokazu Kore-eda’s first fiction feature is a masterful achievement, addressing the subjects of death, time and unresolved mysteries with the gentle grace that would define his later films.

45. All Around Us (dir. Ryosuke Hashiguchi, 2008)

This film’s success hinges on one performance and actress Tae Kimura fearlessly accepts the challenge, depicting clinical depression in a way which is neither maudlin nor pandering.

44. 9 Souls (dir. Toshiaki Toyoda, 2003)

Most prison break films take the convicts’ escape as the film’s climax, but with “9 Souls” it’s only the start. Toshiaki Toyoda starts off his film as a black comedy and then turns it into a heart-wrenching tragedy before our eyes.

43. Late Spring (dir. Yasujiro Ozu, 1949)

Never would Setsuko Hara, Japanese cinema’s Eternal Virgin, be as luminous and engaging as she was in this 1949 Ozu classic. Hara hits all the marks in her performance – joyous, flirtatious, grieving, angry and back to joyous and makes us fall in love with her in the end.

42. Visitor Q (dir. Takashi Miike, 2001)

Miike’s take on Passolini, shot on DV cameras over the course of 8 days, this family melodrama starts as out disturbing and twisted, then unfolds into an often hilarious and deeply moving film as only Miike can make.

41. Sansho the Bailiff (dir. Kenji Mizoguchi, 1954)

A relentlessly heartbreaking film – without a doubt one of Mizoguchi’s finest - about a family torn apart by the greed of others.

Perfect Blue

40. Kamome Diner (dir. Naoko Ogigami, 2006)

Watching three middle-aged women mill around for 2 hours shouldn’t be this enjoyable. Quiet humor punctuates a sense of calm that is present in all of Ogigami's work, but perfectly suits this fish out of water story about, of all things, Japanese soul food.

39. Branded to Kill (dir. Seijun Suzuki, 1967)

Highly influential, quite insane and possessed of the power to get its director fired, "Branded To Kill" is primarily on this list because it's also incredibly entertaining - Seijun Suzuki's hitman odyssey plays tricks with narrative storytelling, but never at the expense of characters or story.

38. Fine, Totally Fine (dir.Yosuke Fujita, 2008)

A film that gets more charming with each viewing. It doesn’t try too hard, it’s not conventional, and it is profoundly Japanese. Is it the finest Japanese movie ever made? No, but it might be the most unassuming.

37. Akira (dir. Katsuhiro Otomo, 1988)

Katsuhiro Otomo changed the anime world with this groundbreaking film, which not only incorporates science fiction, religion, and social commentary into one mind-blowing film, but also brought a new level of detail to animation that is still hard to replicate 25 years later.

36. Perfect Blue (dir. Satoshi Kon, 1998)

This tale of an actress’ descent into paranoia and madness will likely be receiving new attention thanks to "Black Swan," which owes it a major debt. "Perfect Blue" put the late, great Satoshi Kon on the map and showed what anime could really do as a legitimate artistic medium.

35. Nobody Knows (dir. Hirokazu Koreeda, 2004)

Kore-eda directs his gaze to a real-life incident involving children abandoned by their mother in an apartment and creates a lyrical ode to lost innocence.

34. Sonatine (dir. Takeshi Kitano, 1993)

Though one of Kitano’s finest yakuza films, "Sonatine" is really about the memory of summer and childhood as relived by a bunch of thugs hiding out at a beach house. Funny and positively jubilant – that is, until the fun and games arrive at their inevitable end.

33. Confessions of a Dog (dir. Gen Takahashi, 2005)

The gripping story of a good cop gone bad. They stopped making police movies like this in Hollywood in the 70’s and they never made cop movies like this in Japan. The last 6-minutes will shake you to the core.

32. Ichi the Killer (dir. Takashi Miike, 2001)

Yakuza cinema unfettered by conscience. Takashi Miike cemented his reputation by indulging every whimsy in this ultraviolent, wildly entertaining thriller.

31. A Scene at the Sea (dir. Takeshi Kitano, 1991)

Where are the guns and the gangsters? This is Takeshi Kitano’s most atypical film, but it may be his best. The gentle tale of a blind mute who attempts to use surfing to transform his life. Simple and truly profound.

Sword of Doom

30. Still Walking (dir. Hirokazu Koreeda, 2008)

Hirokazu Kore-eda's gentle, touching and personal story about family dynamics (written after his parents passed away) strolls through slice of life moments that will bring a smile of recognition to anyone's face.

29. Mr. Thank You (dir. Hiroshi Shimizu, 1936)

This journey by bus from a coastal village to the city of Tokyo may be one of the most remarkable road movies of all time. Not only does it introduce us to a cast of wonderful characters, but it cuts across social, financial and cultural boundaries like few films that have come after it.

28. High and Low (dir. Akira Kurosawa, 1963)

A morality play built around a tense kidnapping and the ensuing police procedural epitomizes Kurosawa’s incredible use of staging and his multi-camera setups, and as the name implies, is a roller coaster ride of emotions, right down to the last frame.

27. Throne of Blood (dir. Akira Kurosawa, 1957)

Kurosawa doing "Macbeth" is without a doubt the greatest adaptation of Shakespeare ever set on film, and both Toshiro Mifune and Isuzu Yamada’s performances are nothing short of perfection, climaxing in one of the most stunning endings in Kurosawa’s career.

26. Bullet Ballet (dir. Shinya Tsukamoto, 1998)

Shinya Tsukamoto’s usual bone-rattling style is combined with subject matter than can break your heart. A man grieving the loss of his girlfriend enters the shady underworld of Tokyo in search of the gun that she took her own life with. Totally affecting and harrowing.

25. Red Beard (dir. Akira Kurosawa, 1965)

Kurosawa tried his hand at many genres, but it is often forgotten that the medical drama was one of them. Still terribly underrated, "Red Beard" amply showcases his steady command of black-and-white compositions, period detail and the inner workings of human nature.

24. Gojira (dir. Ishiro Honda, 1954)

Our favourite fire-breathing lizard may have gone on to star in 27 more films, each one campier than the last, but this first film is one of the most heartfelt and incisive anti-war protests ever put on film. Look past the man in the rubber suit and we’ll see what we mean.

23. Kwaidan (dir. Masaki Kobayashi, 1964)

Masaki Kobayashi’s painting roots are quite evident in this beautiful but haunting series of ghost stories, all of which planted roots for the plethora of ghost stories that have followed decades later.

22. Sword of Doom (dir. Kihachi Okamoto, 1966)

The fatalistic samurai epic only covers the first section of Kaizan Nakazato’s "Dai-bosatsu tōge", but thanks to a brooding performance by Tatsuya Nakadai and some brilliant direction by Kihachi Okamoto, "Sword of Doom" is an epic character study of a samurai descending into hell.

21. Love Exposure (dir. Sion Sono, 2009)

Sion Sono's film bucks convention in every possible way, proving that if you have enough passion and nerve, 4 hours is a perfectly sensible running time for a thrilling piece of cinema.

20. Battle Royale (dir. Kinji Fukasaku, 2000)

In what is literally a take-no-prisoners exercise, “Battle Royale” director Kinji Fukasaku proves that he hadn’t much mellowed in the decades since his “Battles Without Honor and Humanity”. “Battle”’s unblinking depiction of aggressively forced social Darwinism remains shocking 10 years on, especially so since much of the teen cast has gone on to major film success (Tatsuya Fujiwara, Chiaki Kuriyama and Ko Shibasaki have all graduated to movie star status). Takeshi Kitano injects dark humor and a touch of pathos into his role as the teacher who oversees the carnage, but the real star here is Fujasaku for subversively managing to show society’s savage underbelly in a way which both horrifies and entertains. EE

19. A Snake of June (dir. Shinya Tsukamoto, 2002)

Shinya Tsukamoto adapts his trademark style to that of an oppressive, voyeuristic feminist masterpiece that adds a blue tinted sheen to his usually black and white imagery. Combining elements from his usual cyberpunk universe, as well as that of pinku eiga and touching family melodrama, Tsukamoto takes what could have easily been an exercise in perverse exploitation and turns it into a beautifully executed tale of a Tokyo couples cold, loveless relationship and one woman’s empowerment as a sexual confident being. This is Tsukamoto at his best, perfectly balancing his artistic visual sensibilities with Chu Ishikawa’s pulsing music and some beautiful narrative storytelling. MH

18. Ju-On: The Grudge (dir. Takashi Shimizu, 2003)

It might seem scant praise to describe a horror movie as scary, but few films match “Ju-on”’s dread, unease, and jump-out-of-your-seat scares. Most horror directors shoot for either tone or adrenaline, yet Takashi Shimizu mastered both in this film that continues to stand out despite a flood of sequels, remakes and knockoffs. Equally effective are the film’s sound design and nonlinear narrative: the former gives voice to a spirit in a way that is unique and chilling, and the latter demands more from the viewer and rewards with an ending as tidy as a perfectly tied bow. To see “Ju-on” in a dark theater is to understand why haunted houses are still relevant to horror cinema. EE

17. Kairo (Pulse) (dir. Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2001)

Dark, depressing and all the more poignant, Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s horror masterpiece epitomizes what made the j-horror boom so great before it crushed itself under its own weight. Through subtle use of camera angles, movement and the heavy use of low contrast imagery, filled with shadow and darkness, Kurosawa creates a sense of dread that no other film has been able to match, and it lingers with you for days. The sparse, but often disturbing use of sound, the minimalist approach to specters and their bizarre, butoh like movements, technology has never seemed so evil, sucking the life out of all those it comes in contact with, until they’re left with no will to live. MH

16. In the Realm of the Senses (dir. Nagisa Oshima, 1976)

Best-known for its straight-forward, unsimulated depictions of sex, "In the Realm of the Senses" is worthy of attention for so much more. Beyond anything else, it is simply a great love story that never shies away from the darker aspects of desire, not least of all obsession and madness. The film is driven forward by the fiery emotions of Eiko Matsuda and Tatsuya Fuji as they portray the real-life figures of Sada Abe and her ill-fated lover, who stand out as two of the most memorable additions to Oshima’s wide gallery of social outcasts. MSC

15. After Life (Hirokazu Koreeda, 1998)

What single memory defines your existence? Would you take this memory with you as your only remnant of life here on Earth? That’s what the people in Hirokazu Koreeda’s film “After Life” are asked. The recently deceased are asked to choose one single moment out of the millions of moments of their life. This singular memory will be turned into a film, their own personal heaven. Koreeda, who began his career as a documentary film-maker, mixes actors with non-actors to create this film so basic in its concept and execution, but it is rare to see a film so full of compassion and understanding of our muddled human existence. CM

14. Life of Oharu (dir. Kenji Mizoguchi, 1952)

Kenji Mizoguchi made the lives of fallen women that defining theme of his film-making career, but in all of his 94 films one of the most powerful female characters has to be Oharu, the noblewomen who becomes a lowly street walker through a series of unfortunate events. Mizoguchi took a number of short stories by 17th century author Ihara Saikaku and with the help of actress Kinuyo Tanaka created a woman of fabulous complexity and all-to-human failings. What really makes Oharu’s downward spiral all the more poignant is that her biggest failing was that she simply fell in love. CM

13. Face of Another (dir. Hiroshi Teshigahara, 1966)

The very best science fiction takes our own world and just pushes it ever so slightly into the realm of speculation. There may not be a better of example of this in Japanese cinema than Hiroshi Teshigahara’s “Face of Another”. Okuyama, portrayed by Tatsuya Nakadai, has his face blown off in an industrial accident, but is given a second chance at a normal existence when a surgeon offers him a miraculous solution – an artificial face. This new face quickly becomes a mask though and the line begins to blur between Okuyama’s reality and the life of this new face. In an age of instant messaging, Second Life and internet anonymity “Face of Another” couldn’t be more relevant. CM

12. Audition (dir. Takashi Miike, 1999)

A novel by Ryu Murakami, a screenplay by Daisuke Tengan and directed by Takashi Miike. The mother of all horror dream teams gives you a film that lulls you into a sense of safety and complacency a blossoming romance, and then punches you in the gut, ripping out your heart, as well as most of your chest cavity. Love has never been this painful, nor this compelling. It helped blast Eihi Shiina to fanboy stardom and establish Miike as an international film festival regular. Very few horror films are this transgressive, that they can pluck at your heartstrings and then make you wish it had plucked out your eyeballs. MH

11. The Taste of Tea (dir. Katsuhito Ishii, 2004)

Stop, appreciate the little things in life and just enjoy the taste of tea. That's the gist of the message that the characters in Katsuhito Ishii's "The Taste Of Tea" eventually discover via the head of their family. It's a simple tale of a single family whose individuals are all wrapped up in their own personal issues and problems until they eventually "see the light", but it's also so much more. It's warm, funny, inventive, surreal and not without a solid dose of well-earned emotion in its truly wonderful final 20 minutes. It also contains "Oh My Mountain" - one of the silliest, funniest and downright catchiest little tunes you'll ever be happy to have melt your brain. BT

10. Harakiri (dir. Masaki Kobayashi, 1962)

Samurai films, like American westerns, have often used Japan’s feudal history to comment on and critique contemporary issues. Masaki Kobayashi’s “Harakiri” went well beyond picking and choosing specific social ills to go after with the blade of a katana though. Instead Kobayashi chooses to go after the core of Japanese society in his story of a samurai who seeks vengeance for his stepson who was forced to commit ritual seppuku by a group of jaded noblemen. Blind loyalty, the unspoken caste system and most specifically the smug judgment by the group of an individual all are held up to be skewered in this brave and blistering film. CM

9. Ugetsu (dir. Kenji Mizoguchi, 1953)

Along with "Sansho the Bailiff" and "The Life of Oharu," "Ugetsu" makes up a three-pronged summation of-sorts of Mizoguchi’s fixation with cruelty, misfortune and the exploitation of women. It also showcases the great director’s cinematic talents at an all-time high, here applied to a singularly exquisite ghost story. This sad tale of a pair of peasants and their wives who all become ensnared in war, ambition and lust is rightfully canonized as an everlasting treasure of cinema. MSC

8. Battles Without Honor and Humanity (dir. Kinji Fukasaku, 1973)

From the opening frame, Kinji Fukusaku blasts the viewer out the barrel of a gun, giving us a gritty, visually bombastic view of post war Japan and the Yakuza’s morally corrupt struggle to regain and maintain control of their firebombed empires. Bloody as hell, this film established Fukusaku as a revolutionary director with talent to burn, and turned the Yakuza genre on its heels, as Fukusaku obliterated the genre trappings of the ninkyo eiga into dust, and establishing the jitsuroku eiga, with his wild handheld style, freeze frames, news clippings and text references to characters names and ever changing titles. MH

7. When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (dir. Mikio Naruse, 1960)

Mikio Naruse and his muse, Hideko Takemine, give us the ultimate portrait of Japanese perseverance. Keiko, an aging geisha aware of how limited her options are, experiences crushing disappointment yet maintains a dignity that astonishes. The director and star would collaborate many times and with great success, but this tale of a woman striving to remain as independent as possible in a job and society that seem to oppose her at every turn is their low-key masterwork. “Ganbatte” was never so lyrical or painful. EE

6. Ikiru (dir. Akira Kurosawa, 1952)

We occasionally like to flirt with our mortality and ask the question "If I only had six months to live what would I do?" We invariably come up with scenarios where we max out our credit cards, tour the world or have one long extended debauch. But what would we really do? This is the exact dilemma that faces Watanabe, the protagonist of Akira Kurosawa's masterful "Ikiru". Watanabe is a career bureaucrat who has never missed a day of work in 30 years... and in all that time he's never really lived his life. When he's diagnosed with terminal stomach cancer his entire existence ids turned upside down and he's faced with oceans of regret, fear, and grief. Booze doesn't help, nor do dancing girls and not even a young woman who he befriends and becomes obsessed with. The only thing that can redeem Watanabe is a purpose and Kurosawa gives him one that is both simple and profound. There isn't a film in the world that is as insightful and empathetic to the certainty of death, something that we all face. CM

5. Tampopo (dir. Juzo Itami, 1985)

Juzo Itami’s first three films as director—“The Funeral”, “Tampopo” and “A Taxing Woman”—are an astonishing hat-trick of subversive humor and narrative mastery, but his freewheeling foodie masterwork “Tampopo” is an effortless celebration of cinema where big laughs, passionate sex, and epic fistfights coalesce into a whole that’s more than its parts. Whether you watch for the main narrative (a sly take on spaghetti westerns with Tsutomu Yamazaki as a ramen connoisseur trucker helping hapless single mom Nobuko Miyamoto with her noodle shop) or for the many vignettes that pepper the film, this a unique and essential piece of J-cinema. Just don’t watch on an empty stomach. EE

4. House (dir. Nobuhiko Obayashi, 1977)

If you've ever seen a young child play with editing software, you'll get a vague idea as to how experimental filmmaker Nobuhiko Obayashi approached his first feature film - use every single trick and effect at your disposal and mash it all up together. The difference is that Obayashi's grab bag approach still resulted in something coherent, jaw-droppingly creative and, most of all, heaps and heaps of fun. So what was the tipping point for us in the movie? Was it the demon cat attack? The piano with the munchies? Or that gorgeous false backdrop at the bus stop? If you haven't seen "House", it really is the one movie that can be described as being nothing like you've ever seen before. BT

3. Ran (dir. Akira Kurosawa, 1985)

In any consideration of Akira Kurosawa’s finest films, Ran is absolutely essential. Whether it deserves the highest honors is a little more debatable, as its bleak worldview and pronounced distance can be off-putting to some. Yet its vision, beauty and discipline indicate the considerable skill of an experienced artist determined to make one more masterpiece. Grafting the outline of "King Lear" onto the history of feudal Japan, Kurosawa creates a universal examination of war and violence that, between its sorrowful depiction of human viciousness and impeccable craftsmanship, makes for an awe-inspiring viewing experience. MSC

2. Spirited Away (dir. Hayao Miyazaki, 2001)

It's indisputable that Hayao Miyazaki is one of, if not the, most famous Japanese director in the world right now. It almost seems fitting that in this age of blockbuster films so loaded with CGI and blue screen effects that they are basically animated films it seem appropriate that Miyazaki has such a high profile. Still, Miyazaki sets himself head and shoulders above all these other animated films for the fact that he doesn't use all these technological bells and whistles. It's just straight 2D animation used to tell engrossing and magical tales. His 2001 film "Spirited Away" may be the very best example of this. It's story of a young girl lost in the would of the yokai, or Japanese spirits, is at once awe-inspiring, delighful and heartbreaking. This film can not only be counted as an amazing feat of animation, but also a fantastic story on the same level as "Wizard of Oz" or "Alice in Wonderland". CM

1. Seven Samurai (dir. Akira Kurosawa, 1954)

Not really a surprising choice for the #1 spot, but a warranted one nonetheless. Perhaps the reason behind the continuing affection lauded upon "Seven Samurai" is as simple as the fact that there is nothing like an entertaining, well-told story – especially when it is as generous and absorbing as this one. From the very first shot, Kurosawa draws the viewer in with a deceptively simple us vs. them scenario, then deliciously proceeds to up the ante with wonderfully written characters, humor, intense action, compelling subplots and unforeseen conflicts. The technique utilized throughout the film is the very definition of dynamic, fluidly carrying along the plot and making three and a half hours fly by in an expertly choreographed maelstrom of emotion, battle and pure cinema. MSC

A (Tatsuya Mori, 1998)

About Her Brother (Yoji Yamada, 2010)

Abraxas (Naoki Kato, 2010)

Achilles and the Tortoise (Takeshi Kitano, 2008)

Adrenaline Drive (Shinobu Yaguchi, 1999))

Adrift in Tokyo (Satoshi Miki, 2007)

Afraid to Die (Yasuzo Masumura, 1960)

After School (Kenji Uchida, 2008)

Ain't No Tomorrows (Yuki Tanada, 2008)

Air Doll (Hirokazu Koreeda, 2009)

Akira (Katsuhiro Otomo, 1988)

Alien vs. Ninja (Seiji Chiba, 2010)

All About Lily Chou-Chou (Shunji Iwai, 2001)

All About Our House (Koki Mitani, 2001)

All Around Us (Ryosuke Hashiguchi, 2008)

All Night Long (Katsura Matsumura, 1992)

All Night Long 2: Atrocity (Katsuya Matsumura, 1995)

All Night Long 3: The Final Chapter (Katsuya Matsumura, 1996)

Anarchy in (Ja)panty (Takahisa Zeze, 1999)

Angel's Egg (Mamoru Oshii, 1985)

Another Heaven (Joji Iida, 2000)

Antonio Gaudi (Hiroshi Teshigahara, 1984)

Ants, The (Kaoru Ikeya, 2006)

Arakimentari (Travis Klose, 2004)

Ashita no Joe: The Movie (Osamu Dezaki, 1980)

Audition (Takashi Miike, 1999)

An Autumn Afternoon (Yasujiro Ozu, 1962)

ANPO: Art X War (Linda Hoaglund, 2010)

Apartment 1303 (Ataru Oikawa, 2007)

April Story (Shunji Iwai, 1998)

Assault Girls (Mamoru Oshii, 2009)

Autumn Adagio (Tsuki Inoue, 2010)

Azemichi Road, The (Fumie Nishikawa, 2009)

Azumi (Ryuhei Kitamura, 2003)

Babin (Isamu Hirabayashi, 2008)

Bad Sleep Well, The (Akira Kurosawa, 1960)

Baptism of Blood (Kenichi Yoshihara, 1996)

Bare Essence of Life (Satoko Yokohama, 2009)

Barefoot Gen (Masaki Mori, 1983)

Basara: Princess Goh (Hiroshi Teshigahara, 1992)

Bashing (Masahiro Kobayashi, 2005)

Bastoni: The Stick Handlers (Kazuhiko Nakamura, 2002)

Battle Royale (Kinji Fukasaku, 2000)

Battle Royale II: Requiem (Kinji Fukaasaku & Kenta Fukasaku, 2003)

Battles Without Honor and Humanity (Kinji Fukasaku, 1973)

Battles Without Honor and Humanity: Deadly Fight in Hiroshima (Kinji Fukasaku, 1973)

Battles Without Honor and Humanity: Final Episode (Kinji Fukasaku, 1974)

Battles Without Honor and Humanity: Police Tactics (Kinji Fukasaku, 1974)

Battles Without Honor and Humanity: Proxy War (Kinji Fukasaku, 1973)

Be a Man: Samurai School (Tak Sakaguchi, 2008)

Beast Must Die, The (Toru Murakawa, 1980)

Belladonna of Sadness (Eiichi Yamamoto, 1973)

Big Bang Love Juvenile A (Takashi Miike, 2006)

Big Man Japan (Hitoshi Matsumoto, 2007)

Bird People of China, The (Takashi Miike, 1998)

Birthright (Naoki Hashimoto, 2011)

Black Angel, Vol. 1 (Takashi Ishii, 1997)

Black House, The (Yoshimitsu Morita, 1999)

Black Rose Mansion (Kinji Fukasaku, 1969)

Blackmail is My Life (Kinji Fukasaku, 1968)

Black Sun (dir. Koreyoshi Kurahara, 1964)

Blessing Bell, The (Sabu, 2002)

Blind Beast vs. Killer Dwarf (Teruo Ishii, 2001)

Blind Love (Daisuke Goto, 2005)

Blind Woman's Curse (Teruo Ishii, 1970)

Blood (Kosuke Suzuki, 1998)

Blood and Bones (Yoichi Sai, 2004)

Blood of Rebirth (Toshiaki Toyoda, 2009)

Bloody Territories (Yasuharu Hasebe, 1969)

Blue Spring (Toshiaki Toyoda, 2001)

Book of the Dead, The (Kihachiro Kawamoto, 2005)

Borrower Arriety, The (Hiromasa Yonebayashi, 2010)

Box: The Hakamada Case (Banmei Takahashi, 2010)

Boy's Choir (Akira Ogata, 2000)

Branded to Kill (Seijun Suzuki, 1967)

Breath In, Breath Out (Tetsuo Shinohara, 2004)

Bright Future (Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2003)

Brothers and Sisters of the Toda Family, The (Yasujiro Ozu, 1941)

Bubble Fiction: Boom or Bust (Yasuo Baba, 2007)

Bullet Ballet (Shinya Tsukamoto, 1998)

Bullet Train, The (Junya Sato, 1975)

Burst City (Sogo Ishii, 1982)

Buy a Suit (Jun Ichikawa, 2008)

Café Lumière (Hou Hsiao-Hsien, 2003)

Canary (Akihiko Shiota, 2005)

Carmen Comes Home (Keisuke Kinoshita, 1951)

Carnival in the Night (Masashi Yamamoto, 1986)

Carved: A Slit-Mouthed Woman (Koji Shiraishi, 2008)

Castle of Cagliostro, The (Hayao Miyazaki, 1979)

Castle of Sand (Yoshitaro Nomura, 1974)

Catcher on the Shore, The (Ryugo Nakamura, 2010)

Caterpillar (Koji Wakamatsu, 2010)

Cats of Mirikitani, The (Linda Hattendorf, 2006)

Ceremony, The (Nagisa Oshima, 1971)

Chameleon (Junji Sakamoto, 2008)

Chanbara Beauty (Yohei Fukuda, 2008)

Chaos (Hideo Nakata, 1999)

Charisma (Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 1999)

Charon (Gen Takahashi, 2004)

Chicken Heart (Hiroshi Shimizu, 2002)

Chikamatsu Monogatari (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1954)

Children of Soleil (dir. Yoichiro Okutani, 2011)

Climber's High (Masato Harada, 2008)

Cloistered Nun: Runa's Confession (Masaru Konuma, 1976)

Clone Returns Home, The (Kanji Nakajima, 2009)

Close Your Eyes and Hold Me (Itsumichi Isomura, 1996)

Closed Note (Isao Yukisada, 2007)

Cold Fish (Sion Sono, 2010)

Colt is My Passport, A (Takashi Nomura, 1967)

Coming Future (Kyuya Nakagawa, 2010)

Confessions (Tetsuya Nakashima, 2010)

Confessions of a Dog (Gen Takahashi, 2006)

Cool Dimension (Yoshikazu Ishii, 2006)

Cromartie High School: The Movie (Yudai Yamaguchi, 2005)

Crows Zero (Takashi Miike, 2007)

Crows Zero II (Takashi Miike, 2009)

Cruel Gun Story (Takumi Furukawa, 1964)

Cure (Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 1997)

Curse, Death & Spirit (Hideo Nakata, 1992)

Cut (Amir Naderi, 2011)

Cutie Honey (Hideaki Anno, 2004)

Cyborg She (Kwak Jae-yong, 2008)

Daido Moriyama: Stray Dog of Tokyo (Kenjiro Fujii, 2001)

Dappi Wife/ My Wife's Shell (Ryuichi Honda, 2005)

Dark Harbour, The (Naito Takatsugu, 2009)

Dark Water (Hideo Nakata, 2002)

Daydream (Tetsuji Takechi, 1964)

Dead or Alive (Takashi Miike, 1999)

Dead or Alive 2: Birds (Takashi Miike, 2000)

Dead or Alive: Final (Takashi Miike, 2002)

Deadly Outlaw Rekka (Takashi Miike, 2002)

Dear Doctor (Miwa Nishikawa, 2009)

Dororo (Akihiko Shiota, 2007)

Death Kappa (Tomo'o Haraguchi, 2010)

Death of Domomata (Shutaro Oku, 2008)

Death Note: The Last Name (Shunsuke Kaneko, 2006)

Death Trance (Yuji Shimomura, 2005)

Deep Contact (Yukio Kitazawa, 1998)

Delinquent Girl Boss: Blossoming Night Dreams (Kazuhiko Yamaguchi, 1970)

Demon, The (Yoshitaro Nomura, 1978)

Demon City Shinjuku (Yoshiaki Kawajiri, 1988)

Departures (Yojiro Takita, 2008)

Dersu Uzala (Akira Kurosawa, 1975)

Desert Archipelago, The (Kanai Katsu, 1969)

Detective Bureau 2-3: Go To Hell Bastards! (Seijun Suzuki, 1963)

Detroit Metal City (Toshio Lee, 2008)

Diary of a Shinjuku Thief (Nagisa Oshima, 1968)

Diary of Tortov Roddle, The (Kunio Kato, 2003)

Discarnates, The (Nobuhiko Obayashi, 1988)

Distance (Hirokazu Koreeda, 2001)

Dodes'ka-den (Akira Kurosawa, 1970)

Doki Doki (Chris Eska, 2003)

Dolls (Takeshi Kitano, 2002)

Doman Seman (Go Shibata, 2010)

Door to the Sea (Reiko Ohashi, 2010)

Double Suicide (Masahiro Shinoda, 1969)

Dream Cruise (Norio Tsuruta, 2007)

Dreams (Akira Kurosawa, 1990)

Drifting Classroom, The (Nobuhiko Obayashi, 1987)

Drifting Clouds (Daisuke Hasebe, 2010)

Drowning Man, A (Naoki Ichio, 2002)

Duckling, The (Sayaka Ono, 2005)

Dum Beast (Hideaki Hosono, 2010)

Dump Truck Woman and King of Hormones (Sho Fujiwara, 2009)

Early Spring (Yasujiro Ozu, 1956)

Eat the Kimono (Claire Hunt & Kim Longinotto, 1989)

Ecstasy of the Angels (Koji Wakamatsu, 1972)

Ecstasy of the Angels (Re-review) (Koji Wakamatsu, 1972)

Eel, The (Shohei Imamura, 1997)

Eko Eko Aazarak: Wizard of Darkness (Shimako Sato, 1995)

Electric Button (Moon & Cherry) (Yuki Tanada, 2004)

Emerger (Aki Sato, 2008)

Emotion (Nobuhiko Obayashi, 1966)

Empire of Passion (Nagisa Oshima, 1978)

End of Summer, The (Yasujiro Ozi, 1961)

Entrails of a Beautiful Woman (Kazuo "Gaira" Komizu, 1986)

Entrails of a Virgin (Kazuo "Gaira" Komizu, 1986)

Exhalation (Edmund Yeo, 2010)

Exte: Hair Extensions (Sion Sono, 2007)

Face of Another, The (Hiroshi Teshigahara, 1966)

Fantastipo (Shogo Yabuuchi, 2005)

Fear and Trembling (Alain Corneau, 2003)

Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion (Shunya Ito, 1972)

Female Prisoner Scorpion: Beast Stable (Shunya Ito, 1972)

Female Prisoner Scorpion: Grudge Song (Yasuharu Hasebe, 1973)

Fence (Toshi Fujiwara, 2008)

Fine, Totally Fine (Yosuke Fujita, 2008)

Firefly Dreams (John Williams, 2001)

Fires on the Plain (Kon Ichikawa, 1959)

First Love (Yukinari Hanawa, 2006)

Fish Story (Yoshihiro Nakamura, 2009)

Flavor of Happiness (Mitsuhiro Mihara, 2008)

Floating Clouds (Mikio Naruse, 1955)

Flowing (Mikio Naruse, 1956)

Foreign Duck, The Native Duck and God in a Coin Locker, The (Yoshihiro Nakamura, 2007)

Freeter's Distress (Hiroki Iwabuchi, 2007)

Frightful Era of Kurama Tengu, The (dir. Teppei Yamaguchi, 1928)

Frog Song (Shinji Imaoka, 2005)

Full Metal Yakuza (Takashi Miike, 1997)

Funeral, The (Juzo Itami, 1984)

Funeral Parade of Roses (Toshio Matsumoto, 1969)

Funky Forest: The First Contact (Katsuhito Ishii, 2005)

Funuke Show Some Love, You Losers! (Daihachi Yoshida, 2007)

Gaea Girls (Kim Longinotto & Jano Williams, 2000)

Gantz (Shinsuke Sato, 2010)

Gate of Flesh (Seijun Suzuki, 1964)

Geisha, The (Hideo Gosha, 1983)

Gelatin Silver, Love (Kazumi Kurigami, 2009)

Gemini (Shinya Tsukamoto, 1999)

Genius Party (2007)

Genius Party Beyond (2008)

Gentle Art of Japanese Extortion (Juzo Itami, 1992)

German + Rain (Satoko Yokohama, 2007)

Ghidorah (Ishiro Honda, 1964)

Ghost in the Shell (Mamoru Oshii, 1995)

Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (Mamoru Oshii, 2004)

Ghost Story of Yotsuya (Nobuo Nakagawa, 1959)

Giants and Toys (Yasuzo Masumura, 1958)

Gion Bayashi - A Geisha (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1953)

Girl Sparks (Yuya Ishii, 2007)

Girls Rebel Force of Competitive Swimmers (Koji Kawano, 2007)

Glamorous Life of Sachiko Hanai, The (Mitsuru Meike, 2003)

Go (Isao Yukisada, 2001)

Godspeed You! Black Emperor (dir. Mitsuo Yanagimachi, 1976)

Goemon (Kazuaki Kiriya, 2009)

Gohatto (Nagisa Oshima, 1999)

Gojoe (Sogo Ishii, 2000)

Goke: Body Snatcher from Hell (Hajime Sato, 1968)

Golden Slumber (Yoshihiro Nakamura, 2010)

Good Morning (Yasujiro Ozu, 1959)

Good Morning to the World!! (Satoru Hirohara, 2010)

Goyokin (Hideo Gosha, 1969)

Gozu (Takashi Miike, 2003)

Grave of the Fireflies (Taro Hyugaji, 2008)

Great Happiness Space, The (Jake Clennell, 2006)

Groper Train: Search for the Black Pearl (Yojiro Takita, 1984)

Groper Train: Wedding Capriccio (Yojiro Takita, 1984)

GS Wonderland (Ryuichi Honda, 2008)

Gu Gu the Cat (Isshin Inudo, 2008)

Hachiko Monogatari (Seijiro Koyama, 1987)

Handsome Suit (Tsutomu Hanabusa, 2008)

Hanging Garden (Toshiaki Toyoda, 2005)

Happily Ever After (Yukihiko Tsutsumi, 2007)

Happiness of the Katakuris, The (Takashi Miike, 2001)

Happy Flight (Shinobu Yaguchi, 2008)

Hard Revenge Milly/ Hard Revenge Milly: Bloody Battle (Takanori Tsujimoto, 2008)

Haru's Journey (Masahiro Kobayashi, 2010)

Have 'Em Fresh: The Laughing Stomach (Yoshihiro Ito, 1999)

Hazard (Sion Sono, 2005)

Haze (Shinya Tsukamoto, 2005)

Heaven's Story (Takahisa Zeze, 2010)

Hellavator: the Bottled Fools (Hiroki Yamaguchi, 2004)

Hero Show, The (Kazuyuki Izutsu, 2010)

High Kick Girl! (Fuyuhiko Nishi, 2009)

Himatsuri: The Fire Festival (Mitsuo Yanagimachi, 1985)

Himizu (Sion Sono, 2011)

Hiroshima (Hideo Sekigawa, 1953)

Horrors of Malformed Men (Teruo Ishii, 1969)

Hospitalité (Koji Fukada, 2010)

Hottentot Apron: A Sketch (Kei Shirichi, 2006)

House (Nobuhiko Obayashi, 1977)

Household X (Koki Yoshida, 2011)

Howl's Moving Castle (Hayao Miyazaki, 2004)

Hula Girls (Sang-il Lee, 2006)

Human Condition: No Greater Love, The (Masaki Kobayashi, 1959)

Hypnotist, The (Masayuki Ochiai, 1999)

I Am an S&M Writer (Ryuichi Hiroki, 2000)

I Am Waiting (Koreyoshi Kurahara, 1957)

I Live in Fear (Akira Kurosawa, 1955)

I Was Born, but... (Yasujiro Ozu, 1932)

I Wish (Hirokazu Koreeda, 2011)

Ichi (Fumihiko Sori, 2009)

Idiot, The (Akira Kurosawa, 1951)

If You Were Young: Rage (Kinji Fukasaku, 1970)

Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit (Tomoyuki Takamoto, 2008)

Ikiru (Akira Kurosawa, 1952)

Imprint (Takashi Miike, 2006)

Incident at Blood Pass (Hiroshi Inagaki, 1970)

Incite Mill, The (Hideo Nakata, 2010)

Infection (Masayuki Ochiai, 2004)

Inju: The Beast in the Shadows (Barbet Schroeder, 2008)

Insane Mask (Eiichi Tsukiashi, 2009)

Insect Woman, The (Shohei Imamura, 1963)

Install (Kei Kataoka, 2004)

Intimidation (Koreyoshi Kurahara, 1960)

Into the Picture Scroll: The Tale of Yamanaka Tokiwa (Sumiko Haneda, 2004)

Inugami (Masato Harada, 2001)

Invention of Dr. NakaMats (Kaspar Astrup Schröder, 2009)

Invitation to Cinema Orion, The (Kenki Saegusa, 2007)

Island of Dreams (Tetsuichiro Tsuta, 2009)

Jam Films (2002)

Japanese Girls at the Harbor (Hiroshi Shimizu, 1933)

Japanese Hell (Teruo Ishii, 1999)

Japanese Summer: Double Suicide (Nagisa Oshima, 1967)

Jirokichi The Rat (Daisuke Ito, 1931)

Junk (Atsushi Muroga, 2000)

Junk Food (Masashi Yamamoto, 1997)

Ju-on (Takashi Shimizu, 2002)

Ju-on (V-Cinema original) (Takashi Shimizu, 2000)

Ju-on 2 (Takashi Shimizu, 2000)

Ju-on: White Ghost (Ryuta Miyake, 2009)

Ju-rei: The Uncanny (Koji Shiraishi, 2004)

K20: The Fiend with Twenty Faces (Shimako Sato, 2009)

Kagemusha (Akira Kurosawa, 1980)

Kagero-za (Seijun Suzuki, 1981)

Kaidan (Hideo Nakata, 2007)

Kaidan Horror Classics (2010)

Kaiji (Toya Sato, 2009)

Kakera: A Piece of Our Life (Momoko Ando, 2009)

Kamikaze Girls (Tetsuya Nakashima, 2004)

Kamui (Yoichi Sai, 2009)

KanZeOn: The Magical Potential of Sound (dir. Neil Cantwell & Tim Grabham, 2011)

Karaoke Terror (Tetsuo Shinohara, 2003)

Karate Bullfighter (Kazuhiko Yamaguchi, 1977)

Kikujiro (Takeshi Kitano, 1999)

Kill! (Kihachi Okamoto, 1968)

Killing Machine, The (Norifumi Suzuki, 1976)

Kingdom, The (Kanai Katsu, 1973)

Kingyo (Edmund Yeo, 2009)

Kirei: The Terror of Beauty (dir. Katsuya Matsumura, 2004)

Kiss, The (Kunitoshi Manda, 2008)

Kotoko (Shinya Tsukamoto, 2011)

Kung Fu Kid (Issei Oda, 2008)

Kuroneko (Kaneto Shindo, 1968)

Lady Ninja Kaede (Hiroyuki Kawasaki, 2007)

Lady Snowblood (Toshiya Fujita, 1973)

Lady Snowblood: Love Song of Vengeance (Toshiya Fujita, 1974)

Lala Pipo (Masayuki Miyano, 2009)

Laputa: Castle in the Sky (Hayao Miyazaki, 1986)

Last Note, A (Kaneto Shindo, 1995)

Last Quarter (Ken Nakai, 2004)

Last Supper, The (Osamu Fukutani, 2005)

Late Autumn (dir. Yasujiro Ozu, 1960)

Late Bloomer (Go Shibata, 2007)

Late Chrysanthemums (Mikio Naruse, 1954)

Late Spring (Yasujiro Ozu, 1949)

Legend of Red Dragon, The (Toru Ichikawa, 2006)

Ley Lines (Takashi Miike, 1999)

Liar and a Broken Girl, A (Natsuki Seta, 2011)

Life of Oharu, The (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1952)

Lily Festival, The (Sachi Hamano, 2001)

Linda, Linda, Linda (Nobuhiro Yamashita, 2005)

Live Tape (Tetsuaki Matsue, 2009)

Living Hell (Shugo Fujii, 2000)

Locked Out (Yasunobu Takahashi, 2008)

Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Land of Demons (Kenji Misumi, 1973)

Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Peril (Buichi Saito, 1972)

Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance (Kenji Misumi, 1972)

Lonely Cow Weeps at Dawn, A (Daisuke Goto, 2003)

Long Dream (Higuchinsky, 2000)

Lost & Found (Nobuyuki Miyake, 2008)

Lost Girl (Daisuke Yamaoka, 2009)

Love Addiction (Nobuteru Uchida, 2010)

LoveDeath (Ryuhei Kitamura, 2006)

Love Exposure (Sion Sono, 2008)

Love Ghost (Kazuyuki Shibuya, 2001)

Love Letter (Shunji Iwai, 1995)

Love My Life (Koji Kawano, 2006)

Love - Zero = Infinity (Hisayasu Sato, 1994)

Lovers Are Wet (Tatsumi Kumashiro, 1973)

Lupin III: The Secret of Mamo (Yasuo Otsuka & Soji Yoshikawa, 1978)

Lupin III: Missed by a Dollar (dir. Hideki Tonokatsu, 2000)

Lupin the Third: Strange Psychokinetic Strategy (Takashi Tsuboshima, 1974)

Maborosi (Hirokazu Koreeda, 1995)

Machine Girl, The (Noboru Iguchi, 2008)

Madness in Bloom (Kenji Sonoda, 2002)

Magic Hour, The (Koki Mitani, 2008)

Maiko Haaaan!!! (Nobuo Mizuta, 2007)

Makoto Aida: Cynic in the Playground (Yusuke Tamari, 2010)

Man Behind the Scissors, The (Toshiharu Ikeda, 2005)

Man Vanishes, A (Shohei Imamura, 1967)

Man Walking on Snow (Masahiro Kobayashi, 2001)

Manji (Yasuzo Masumura, 1964)

Marebito (Takashi Shimizu, 2004)

Mariko Rose: The Spook (Devi Kobayashi, 2009)

Masseurs and a Woman, The (Hiroshi Shimizu, 1938)

Meet the Fuccons (Yoshimasa Ishibashi, 2001)

Megane (Naoko Ogigami, 2007)

Memories of Matsuko (Tetsuya Nakashima, 2006)

Mental (Kazuhiro Soda, 2008)

Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (Nagisa Oshima, 1983)

Messengers (Yasuo Baba, 1999)

Midori-ko (Keita Kurosaka, 2010)

Milkwoman, The (Akira Ogata, 2005)

Milocrorze: A Love Story (Yoshimasa Ishibashi, 2011)

Mime-mime (Yukiko Sode, 2007)

Mind Game (Masaaki Yuasa, 2004)

Miracle Banana (Yoshinori Nishikiori, 2006)

Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (Paul Schrader, 1985)

Miyoko (Yoshifumi Tsubota, 2009)

Monday (Sabu, 2000)

Monkey Magic (Kensaku Sawada, 2007)

Monsters Club (Toshiaki Toyoda, 2011)

Moon Child (Takahisa Zeze, 2003)

Most Beautiful Night in the World, The (Daisuke Tengan, 2008)

Most Terrible Time in My Life, The (Kaizo Hayashi, 1994)

Mothra (Ishiro Honda, 1961)

Mr. Thank You (Hiroshi Shimizu, 1936)

Mt. Tsurugidake (Daisaku Kimura, 2009)

Muddy River (Kohei Oguri, 1981)

Musashi Miyamoto: Zen and Sword (Tomu Uchida, 1961)

My Back Pages (Nobuhiro Yamashita, 2011)

My Darling of the Mountains (Katsuhito Ishii, 2008)

My Secret Cache (Shinobu Yaguchi, 1997)

My Sons (Yoji Yamada, 1991)

Mysterians, The (Ishiro Honda, 1957)

Mystery of Rampo, The (Rintaro Mayuzumi/ Kazuyoshi Okuyama, 1994)

Nagurimono: Love & Kill (Hideaki Sunaga, 2005)

Naked Island, The (Kaneto Shindo, 1960)

Naked of Defenses (Masahide Ichii, 2008)

Nanami: Inferno of First Love (Susumu Hani, 1968)

Nanayomachi (Naomi Kawase, 2008)

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (Hayao Miyazaki, 1984)

Negotiator, The (Takashi Miike, 2003)

Neighbour's Wife and Mine, The (Heinosuke Gosho, 1931)

Never Give Up (Junya Sato, 1978)

New God, The (Yutaka Tsuchiya, 1999)

New Tale of Zatoichi (Tokuzo Tanaka, 1963)

New Tokyo Decadence: The Slave (Osamu Sato, 2007)

Nezumi Kozo: Noda Version (Hideki Noda, 2005)

Night in Nude: Salvation, A (Takashi Ishii, 2010)

Night on the Galactic Railroad (Gisaburo Sugii, 1985)

Nightmare Detective 2 (Shinya Tsukamoto, 2008)

NIN X NIN: Ninja Hatori-kun - The Movie (Masayuki Suzuki, 2004)

NN-891102 (Go Shibata, 1999)

No Regrets for Our Youth (Akira Kurosawa, 1946)

Nobody to Watch Over Me (Ryoichi Kimizuka, 2009)

Noisy Requiem, The (Yoshihiko Matsui, 1988)

Non-ko (Kazuyoshi Kumakiri, 2008)

Noriko's Dinner Table (Sion Sono, 2006)

Normal Life Please!, A (Tokachi Tsuchiya, 2008)

Norwegian Wood (Tran Anh Hung, 2010)

Notorious Concubines, The (Koji Wakamatsu, 1969)

Now, I... (Yasutomo Chikuma, 2007)

Obsession, An (Shinji Aoyama, 1997)

Odd Obsession (Kon Ichikawa, 1960)

Oh, My Buddha! (Tomorowo Taguchi, 2009)

Okoge (Takehiro Nakajima, 1992)

One Missed Call 2 (Renpei Tsukamoto, 2005)

One Wonderfull Sunday (Akira Kurosawa, 1947)

Onibi: The Fire Within (Rokuro Mochizuki, 1997)

Only Yesterday (Isao Takahata, 1991)

Onmyoji (Yojiro Takita, 2001)

Onmyoji 2 (Yojiro Takita, 2003)

Oppai Volleyball (Eiichiro Hasumi, 2009)

Origin: Spirits of the Past (Keiichi Sugiyama, 2006)

Ornamental Hairpin (Hiroshi Shimizu, 1941)

Orochi (Buntaro Futagawa, 1925)

Orochi: Blood (Norio Tsuruta, 2008)

Osaka Elegy (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1936)

Otakus in Love (Matsuo Suzuki, 2004)

Otogiriso: St. John's Wort (Ten Shimoyama, 2001)

Our Brief Eternity (Takuya Fukushima, 2009)

Outrage (Takeshi Kitano, 2010)

Owl's Castle (Masahiro Shinoda, 1999)

Paco and the Magical Picture Book (Tetsuya Nakashima, 2008)

Pale Flower (Masahiro Shinoda, 1964)

Palm-of-the-Hand Stories (2009)

Paprika (Satoshi Kon, 2006)

Parasite Eve (Masayuki Ochiai, 1997)

Party 7 (Katsuhito Ishii, 2000)

Passing Fancy (Yasujiro Ozu, 1933)

Passion (Ryusuke Hamaguchi, 2008)

Pastoral: To Die in the Country (Shuji Terayama, 1974)

Patriotism (Yukio Mishima & Domoto Masaki, 1966)

Peace (Kazuhiro Soda, 2010)

Perfect Blue (Satoshi Kon, 1998)

Perfect Education, The (Ben Wada, 1999)

Picture Bride (Kayo Hatta, 1994)

Pigs and Battleships (Shohei Imamura, 1961)

Ping Pong (Fumihiko Sori, 2002)

Pitfall (Hiroshi Teshigahara, 1962)

Plastic City (Yu Lik-Wai, 2008)

Platonic Sex (Masako Matsura, 2001)

Pleasures of the Flesh (Nagisa Oshima, 1965)

Pom Poko (Isao Takahata, 1994)

Ponyo (Hayao Miyazaki, 2008)

Pool (Mika Omori, 2009)

Porno Jidaigeki: Bohachi Bushido (Teruo Ishii, 1973)

Pornographers, The (Shohei Imamura, 1966)

Pornostar (Toshiaki Toyoda, 1998)

Portrait of Hell (Shiro Toyoda, 1969)

Primitchibu World, The (Kasumi Hiraoka & Takeshi Shirai, 2009)

Princess Raccoon (Seijun Suzuki, 2005)

Prodigy (Koji Hagiuda, 2007)

Pyuupiru 2001-2008 (Daishi Matsunaga, 2009)

Quick Change Tanuki Palace (Tatsuo Ohsone, 1954)

Quiet Duel, The (Akira Kurosawa, 1949)

Quiet Life, A (Juzo Itami, 1995)

Quill (Yoichi Sai, 2004)

Rainbow Kids (Kihachi Okamoto, 1990)

Rainy Dog (Takashi Miike, 1997)

Rakudan: Party with a Dead Man (Hiroyuki Nakatani, 2008)

Rampo Noir (2005)

Ran (Akira Kurosawa, 1985)

Red Army/ PFLP: Declaration of World War, The (Koji Wakamatsu & Masao Adachi, 1971)

Red Lion (Kihachi Okamoto, 1969)

Red Spot, The (Marie Miyayama, 2008)

Reincarnation (Takashi Shimizu, 2005)

Repast (Mikio Naruse, 1951)

Resurrection of the Golden Wolf (Toru Murakawa, 1979)

Retribution (Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2007)

Returner (Takashi Yamazaki, 2002)

Return of the Street Fighter (Shigehiro Ozawa, 1974)

Revenge (Tadashi Imai, 1964)

Revenge of a Kabuki Actor (Kon Ichikawa, 1963)

Rhapsody in August (Akira Kurosawa, 1991)

Rikidozan (Song Hae-sung, 2004)

Rikyu (Hiroshi Teshigahara, 1989)

Ringu 2 (Hideo Nakata, 1999)

Robinson's Garden (Masashi Yamamoto, 1987)

RoboGeisha (Noboru Iguchi, 2009)

Robo Rock (Taikan Suga, 2007)

Rodan (Ishiro Honda, 1956)

Ronin-gai (Kazuo Kuroki, 1990)

Rookies (Yuichiro Hirakawa, 2009)

Rubber's Lover (Shozin Fukui, 1996)

Rusty Knife (Toshio Masuda, 1958)

Ryuji (Toru Kawashima, 1983)

S&M Hunter (Shuji Kataoka, 1985)

Sad Vacation (Shinji Aoyama, 2007)

Sada (Nobuhiko Obayashi, 1998)

Sakuran (Mika Ninagawa, 2006)

Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto (Hiroshi Inagaki, 1954)

Samurai II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple (Hiroshi Inagaki, 1955)

Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island (Hiroshi Inagaki, 1956)

Samurai Assassin (Kihachi Okamoto, 1965)

Samurai Banners (Hiroshi Inagaki, 1969)

Samurai Fiction (Hiroyuki Nakano, 1998)

Samurai Rebellion (Masaki Kobayashi, 1967)

Samurai Reincarnation (Kinji Fukasaku, 1981)

Samurai Resurrecton (Hideyuki Hirayama, 2003)

Samurai Spy (Masahiro Shinoda, 1965)

Samurai Vendetta (dir. Kazuo Mori, 1959)

Sanjuro (Akira Kurosawa, 1962)

Sanshiro Sugata (Akira Kurosawa, 1943)

Sansho the Bailiff (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1954)

Sasori (Joe Ma, 2008)

Sawako Decides (Yuya Ishii, 2010)

Sayonara Color (Naoto Takenaka, 2005)

Sayuri Ichijo: Wet Lust (Tatsumi Kumashiro, 1972)

Scandal (Akira Kurosawa, 1950)

Scars of the Sun (Takashi Miike, 2006)

Scene at the Sea, A (Takeshi Kitano, 1991)

School Days with a Pig (Tetsu Maeda, 2008)

Screwed (Teruo Ishii, 1998)

Sea is Watching, The (dir. Kei Kumai, 2002)

Seance (Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2000)

Seven Samurai (Akira Kurosawa, 1954)

Sentimental Plasterer, The (Yoji Yamada, 2008)

Serial Dad (Ikki Katashima, 2008)

Sex Is No Laughing Matter (Nami Iguchi, 2008)

Sexy Battle Girls (Mototsugu Watanabe, 1986)

Sexy Timetrip Ninjas (Yojiro Takita, 1984)

Shall We Dance? (Masayuki Suo, 1996)

Shaolin Girl (Katsuyuki Motohiro, 2008)

Sharkskin Man and Peach Hip Girl (Katsuhito Ishii, 1999)

Shinjuku Boys (Kim Longinotto & Jano Williams, 1995)

Shinjuku Triad Society (Takashi Miike, 1995)

Shinobi: Heart Under Blade (Ten Shimoyama, 2005)

Shinobi no Mono (Satsuo Yamamoto, 1962)

Shinobi no Mono 2: Vengeance (Satsuo Yamamoto, 1963)

Shinobi no Mono 3: Resurrection (Kazuo Mori, 1963)

Shinobi no Mono 4: Siege (Tokuzo Tanaka, 1964)

Shinsengumi Chronicles: I Want to Die a Samurai (Kenji Misumi, 1963)

Shogun's Samurai: The Yagyu Clan Conspiracy (Kinji Fukasaku, 1978)

Shogun's Shadow (Yasuo Furuhata, 1989)

Shonen Merickensack (Kankuro Kudo, 2009)

Shoujyo (An Adolescent) (Eiji Okuda, 2001)

Sideways (Cellin Gluck, 2009)

Silver (Takashi Miike, 1999)

Sing a Song of Sex (Nagisa Oshima, 1967)

Siren (Satoshi Torao, 2004)

Sisters of Gion (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1936)

Sleepless Town (Chi-Ngai Lee, 1998)

Sleepy Eyes of Death 1: The Chinese Jade (Takuzo Tanaka, 1963)

Sleepy Eyes of Death 3: Full Circle Killing (Kimiyoshi Yasuda, 1964)

Sleepy Eyes of Death 4: Sword of Seduction

Sleepy Heads (Yoshifumi Hosoya, 1997)

Slide (Yuki Kawamura, 2005)

Sky Crawlers, The (Mamoru Oshii, 2008)

Snake of June, A (Shinya Tsukamoto, 2002)

Snakes and Earrings (Yukio Ninagawa, 2008)

Sona, The Other Myself (Yonghi Yang, 2009)

Sonatine (Takeshi Kitano, 1993)

Soul Odyssey (Isao Yamada, 2003)

Sound of the Mountain (Mikio Naruse, 1954)

Space Amoeba, The (Ishiro Honda, 1970)

Splatter: Naked Blood (Hisayasu Sato (1995)

Stairway to the Distant Past, The (Kaizo Hayashi, 1995)

Star Reformer (Hiroshi Nishitani, 2006)

Stereo Future (dir. Hiroyuki Nakano, 2001)

Still Walking (Hirokazu Koreeda, 2008)

Story of a Prostitute (Seijun Suzuki, 1965)

Story of Sorrow and Sadness, A (Seijun Suzuki, 1977)

Strange Circus (Sion Sono, 2005)

Stray Dog (Akira Kurosawa, 1949)

Street Fighter, The (Shigehiro Ozawa, 1974)

Street Fighter's Last Revenge, The (Shigehiro Ozawa, 1974)

Street of Shame (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1956)

Street Without End (dir. Mikio Naruse, 1934)

Suicide Song, The (Masato Harada, 2007)

Sukiyaki Western Django (Takashi Miike, 2007)

Summer Days with Coo (Keiichi Hara, 2007)

Sunday Drive (Hisashi Saito, 1998)

Supermarket Woman (Juzo Itami, 1996)

Survive Style 5+ (Gen Sekiguchi, 2004)

Swallowtail Butterfly (Shunji Iwai, 1996)

Sway (Miwa Nishikawa, 2006)

Sword of Desperation (Hideyuki Hirayama, 2010)

Sword of the Beast (Hideo Gosha, 1965)

Symbol (Hitoshi Matsumoto, 2009)

Sympathy for the Underdog (dir. Kinji Fukasaku, 1971)

Synchronicity (Naoki Ichio, 2011)

Synesthesia (Toru Matsuura, 2005)

Take Aim at the Police Van (Seijun Suzuki, 1960)

Takeshis' (Takeshi Kitano, 2005)

Tale of a Street Corner (Osamu Tezuka, 1962)

Tale of Zatoichi, The (Kenji Misumi, 1962)

Tale of Zatoichi Continues, The (Kazuo Mori, 1962)

Tales from Earthsea (Goro Miyazaki, 2006)

Tamami: The Baby's Curse (Yudai Yamaguchi, 2008)

Tampopo (Juzo Itami, 1985)

Taste of Fish, The (Shingo Matsubara, 2008)

Taste of Tea, The (Katsuhito Ishii, 2004)

Tattooed Flower Vase (Masaru Konuma, 1976)

Tattooed Life (Seijun Suzuki, 1965)

Tatsumi Hijikata: Summer's Storm (Misao Arai, 1973/ 2003)

Tekkon Kinkreet (Michael Arias, 2007)

Ten Nights of Dreams (2006)

Tenchu! Hitokiri (Hideo Gosha, 1969)

Terror Beneath the Sea, The (Hajima Sato, 1966)

Tetsuo The Bullet Man (Shinya Tsukamoto, 2010)

Third Skin, A (Kotaro Wajima, 2008)

This Transient Life (Akio Jissoji, 1970)

This World of Ours (Ryo Nakajima, 2008)

Those Who Step On a Tiger's Tail (Akira Kurosawa, 1945)

Three Resurrected Drunkards (Nagisa Oshima, 1968)

Three String Samurai (Takefumi Tsutsui, 2004)

Throne of Blood (Akira Kurosawa, 1957)

Thunderfish (Touru Hano, 2005)

Time Slip (G.I. Samurai) (Kosei Saito, 1979)

Time Traveller: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (Masaaki Taniguchi, 2010)

To Walk Beside You (Yuya Ishii, 2010)

Toad's Oil (Koji Yakusho, 2009)

Tokyo! (2008)

Tokyo Decadence (Ryu Murakami, 1992)

Tokyo Drifter (Seijun Suzuki, 1966)

Tokyo Fist (Shinya Tsukamoto, 1995)

Tokyo-ga (Wim Wenders, 1983)

Tokyo Gore Police (Yoshihiro Nishimura, 2008)

Tokyo Olympiad (Kon Ichikawa, 1965)

Tokyo OnlyPic (2008)

Tokyo Scanner (Mamoru Oshii/ Hiroaki Matsu, 2003)

Tokyo Sonata (Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2008)

Tokyo Tower: Me, Mom and Sometimes Dad (Joji Matsuoka, 2007)

Tokyo Twilight (Yasujiro Ozu, 1957)

Tomie (Ataru Oikawa, 1999)

Tomie: Another Face (Toshiro Inomata, 1999)

Tomie: Rebirth (Takashi Shimizu, 2001)

Tomie: Replay (Tomijiro Mitsuishi, 2000)

Tomie: The Beginning (Ataru Oikawa, 2005)

Tomie: The Final Chapter - Forbidden Fruit (Shun Nakahara, 2002)

Tony Takitani (Jun Ichikawa, 2004)

Tora-san: It's Tough Being a Man (Yoji Yamada, 1969)

Tora-san's Sunrise and Sunset (Yoji Yamada, 1976)

Train Man (Shosuke Murakami, 2005)

Trap, The (Kaizo Hayashi, 1996)

Travels of Hibari and Chiemi: The Tumultuous Journey (Tadashi Sawashima, 1963)

Travels with Yoshitomo Nara (Koji Sakabe, 2007)

Tree of Palme, A (Takashi Nakamura, 2002)

Triple Lion Dance (Yoji Yamada, 2008)

Tsumugi (Hidekazu Takahara, 2004)

Turtles Are Surprisingly Fast Swimmers (Satoshi Miki, 2005)

Twenty-Four Eyes (Keisuke Kinoshita, 1954)

Twilight (Tengai Amano, 1994)

Typhoon Club (Shinji Somai, 1985)

Under the Flag of the Rising Sun (Kinji Fukasaku, 1972)

Underworld Beauty (Seijun Suzuki, 1958)

University of Laughs (Mamoru Hoshii, 2004)

Uzumaki (Higuchinsky, 2000)

Vacation (Hajime Kadoi, 2007)

Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl (Yoshihiro Nishimura, 2009)

Vengeance Can Wait (dir. Masanori Tominaga, 2010)

Vengeance is Mine (Shohei Imamura, 1979)

Vermilion Souls (Masaki Iwana, 2008)

Vibrator (Ryuichi Hiroki, 2003)

Villain (Sang-il Lee, 2010)

Villon's Wife (Kichitaro Negishi, 2009)

Violence at Noon (Nagisa Oshima, 1966)

Vortex and Others (Yoshihiro Ito, 2001-2008)

Wakeful Nights (Masahiko Tsugawa, 2005)

Wandering Ginza Butterfly (Kazuhiko Yamaguchi, 1971)

Wandering Ginza Butterfly 2: She-Cat Gambler (Kazuhiko Yamaguchi, 1972)

Wandering Home (Yoichi Higashi, 2010)

War of the Gargantuas (Ishiro Honda, 1966)

Warm Water Under a Red Bridge (Shohei Imamura, 2001)

Warped Ones, The (Koreyoshi Kurahara, 1960)

Watcher in the Attics, The (Noboru Tanaka, 1976)

We Don't Care about Music Anyway (Cédric Dupire & Gaspard Kuentz, 2009)

Welcome Back, Mr. McDonald (Koki Mitani, 1997)

When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (Mikio Naruse, 1960)

When the Last Sword is Drawn (Yojiro Takita, 2003)

Whisper of the Heart (Yoshifumi Kondo, 1995)

White Flower, The (Edmund Yeo, 2010)

Whore Angels (Mototsugu Watanabe, 2000)

Who's Camus Anyway? (Mitsuo Yanagimachi, 2005)

Wife To Be Sacrificed (Masaru Konuma, 1974)

Wind Carpet, The (Kamal Tabrizi, 2003)

Wings of Defeat (Risa Morimoto, 2007)

Wolves, The (Hideo Gosha, 1971)

Woman in the Rumour, The (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1954)

Woman Who is Beating the Earth, A (Tsuki Inoue, 2007)

Women of the Night (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1948)

Wonderful World of Captain Kuhio, The (Daihachi Yoshida, 2009)

Wool 100% (Mai Tominaga, 2006)

World Apartment Horror (Katsuhiro Otomo, 1991)

X-Cross (Kenta Fukasaku, 2007)

XX Beautiful Beast (dir. Toshiharu Ikeda, 1995)

Yaji and Kita: The Midnight Pilgrims (Kankuro Kudo, 2005)

Yakuza Deka (Yukio Noda, 1970)

Yakuza Deka: Assassin (Yukio Noda, 1970)

Yakuza Demon (Takashi Miike, 2003)

Yakuza Graveyard (Kinji Fukasaku, 1976)

Yakuza in Love, A (Rokuro Mochizuki, 1997)

Yakuza Justice: Erotic Code of Honor (Tatsumi Kumashiro, 1973)

Yamagata Scream (Naoto Takenaka, 2009)

Yatterman (Takashi Miike, 2009)

Yellow Kid (Tetsuya Mariko, 2009)

Yokai Monsters: Along with Ghosts (Yoshiyuki Kuroda, 1969)

Yokai Monsters: One Hundred Monsters (Kimiyoshi Yasuda, 1968)

Yokai Montsers: Spook Warfare (Yoshiyuki Kuroda, 1968)

Young Thugs: Nostalgia (Takashi Miike, 1998)

Young Yakuza (Jean-Pierre Limosin, 2007)

Yo-Yo Girl Cop (Kenta Fukasaku, 2006)

Yumeji (Seijun Suzuki, 1991)

Zatoichi (Takeshi Kitano, 2003)

Zatoichi: The Fugitive (Tokuzo Tanaka, 1963)

Zebraman (Takashi Miike, 2004)

Zero Woman (Daisuke Goto, 1995)

Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs (Yukio Noda, 1974)

Zigeunerweisen (Seijun Suzuki, 1980)
Each month The J-Film Pow-Wow offers our Top Ten List, weighing in on everything from our favorite films in specific genres to topics highlighting various aspects of Japanese cinema history and culture.

Our Top Ten Picks for Best Actors/ Actresses of This Generation

Ten Films about Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Our Top Ten Favorite Fight Scenes

Our Top Ten Favorite Japanese Film Composers

Our Top Ten Favorite So-Bad-They're-Good Films

Top Ten Most Influential Women in Japanese Film

The J-Film Pow-Wow's Top Picks of 2010

Our Top Ten List of Films/ Filmmakers Without English Subtitles

Top Ten Best Coming of Age Films

Top Ten Sexiest Scenes in Japanese Film

Top Ten 'That Guy' Character Actors

Our Top Ten Favorite Japanese Sci-Fi Films

Top Ten Japanese Films-Within-Films

Our Top Ten Favorite Cinematic Bad Girls

Chris MaGee's Top Picks of 2009 and the 00's

Marc Saint-Cyr's Top Picks of 2009 and the 00's

Matthew Hardstaff's Top Picks of 2009 and the 00's

Bob Turnbull's Top Picks of 2009 and the 00's

Eric Evans' Top Picks of 2009 and the 00's

Top Ten Favorite Scenes in Japanese Cinema: Chris MaGee

Top Ten Favorite Scenes in Japanese Cinema: Matthew Hardstaff
Top Ten Favorite Scenes in Japanese Cinema: Bob Turnbull

Top Ten Favorite Scenes in Japanese Cinema: Eric Evans

Top Ten Favorite Scenes in Japanese Cinema: Marc saint-Cyr

Top Ten Best Japanese Documentaries

Our Top Ten Favorite Yakuza Films

Our Top Ten Favorite Samurai

Top Ten Japanese Lesbian/ Gay/ Bisexual/ Trans Films

Our Top Ten Favorite Cameo Appearances

Top Ten Japanese Films that Make Us Cry

Top Ten Crossover Japanese Actors/ Actresses

Our Top Ten Favorite Japanese Horror Films

The Top Ten Films that Changed Japanese Cinema

Our Top Ten Favorite Releases of 2008

Top Ten Performances by Shinya Tsukamoto (*in films he didn't direct)

Our Top Ten Films Based on Manga

Top Ten Most Controversial Japanese Films

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