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Movie Going Madness in Japan

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  • Thank you Takuma, these posts are much appreciated. One day I hope to be able to catch some screenings in the Tokyo/Yokohama area. Been here since Aug but not in a position for any movie exploration so haven't even looked beyond my local mall theater.


    • Originally posted by Oily Maniac View Post
      Thank you Takuma, these posts are much appreciated. One day I hope to be able to catch some screenings in the Tokyo/Yokohama area. Been here since Aug but not in a position for any movie exploration so haven't even looked beyond my local mall theater.
      Thanks and yeah, if you get a chance you should certainly pay a visit to those Tokyo theaters... Laputa Asagaya, Shin bungeiza, Jinbocho Theater, Cinema Vera, Film Archive... I don't think film prints will be around for much longer so it's now or never.


      • Tokyo-Osaka, part 3/3, the first half

        Saturday's plan was five films in three different theatres around Tokyo, which I somewhat surprisingly managed to pull off.

        My first destination was Meguro Cinema, one of Tokyo's few remaining double feature theatres with a distinctly 90s atmosphere. I like how they ring bells every time a film is about to begin to let people know it's time to get seated. They were also giving small printed program brochures with some hand-drawn, false God worshipping British villagers with animal heads on the cover.

        The Britons were from The Wicker Man: Final Cut (1973), which was playing together with Friedkin's Sorcerer (1977). Both were DCP, but since I had nothing better to do at 10:30 am (other than sleep) decided to give Wicker Man a go. I had not seen it since a TV broadcasting when I was a kid. Great film! I didn't have time to stay for Sorcerer, but I've seen that theatrically already and have the BD in my shelf, so no biggie.

        Meguro was also doing a one night only 35mm screening of Gappa: The Triphibian Monster (1967) but I sadly had no chance to attend since I had other plans for the night. More about that later.

        Upcoming program: The Man Who Stole the Sun, Bullet Train and Family Game

        Next up was a trip to Jinbocho, a district perhaps best known for its 5 million small book stores. But I was going to Jinbocho Theater, a pretty cool place with a futuristic design - a bit of a mismatch with their programs which focus on 60s dramas, comedies musicals. They seem to be very popular with the elderly audiences and the screenings are nearly always well attended. I got there 25 min prior to Yagyu Secret Scrolls (1957), and got ticket number 54.

        Photos stolen off the internet

        Yagyu was a good, although slightly pale 35mm presentation of a passable Toshiro Mifune film - I prefer the more action packed and pulpy 60s Toei films (nine films in 1961-1964) however. The film was playing in a jidai geki novel adaptation retrospective, that also included films like Tai Kato’s Warrior of the Wind (1964), Hideo Gosha’s Bandits vs. Samurai Squadron (1978) and Norifumi Suzuki’s Ninja's Mark (1968).

        The latter was the reason for my visit. It was my 2nd time seeing Ninja’s Mark in 35mm, but I didn't remember how gorgeous the print was! Another example of why home cinema will never equal a fine 35mm presentation. The film is a good bit of fun, starting from the opening scene where an evil ninja turns a woman having sex into a fish! Someone should release this on BD in a box set with other ninja films based on Futaro Yamada novels (e.g. Female Ninja Magic, Ninja Wars, Samurai Reincarnation).

        Ninja’s Mark also has some historical relevance for being the 1st movie Toei head Okada had producer Amao make in order to milk the eros boom. The film failed at the box office ("men don't forgive eros that only goes half-way", Okada said) and has since been largely forgotten. Their follow-up try History of the Shogun's Harem (1968), however, was a huge hit and went down in history books as the official start of Pinky Violence.

        Stay tuned for Tokyo-Osaka, part 3/3, the second half (I know, I screwed up)


        • Tokyo-Osaka, part 3/3, the second half

          My final destination was one of my favourite places in the whole wide world: Laputa Asagaya. The lovely theater located in a building made of stone and wood, and named and modelled after the Miayzaki anime, does nothing but Japanese film retrospectives from morning to night. The Morning Show is usually golden oldies, the Late Show is genre films from yakuza to pink, and the massive Main Program is anything between. That means there are usually six 35mm screenings every day.

          Some stolen photos and image glued together.

          Note that the camera really lies here. The screen looks very small. In reality, there are 4 rows and the back row is the only place where the screen (in 2.35:1) won't fill your entire field view. Any closer and it will either fill the entire field view (3rd row), or you won't be able to see the entire screen (1st and 2nd row).

          This time the main program was called "50 Film Directors' Debut Movie", which was accompanying a recent book release of the same name (which is something Laputa often does). A lot of the best stuff in this retro (Nakajima's Female Ninja Magic, Murakawa's Delicate Skillful Fingers, Ito's Female Prisoner 701: Scorpion, Ishii’s Red Vertigo etc.) was unfortunately saved for later dates.

          The film I caught was Hideo Onchi’s Young Wolf aka Hidden Fangs (1961), a complete blind watch for me, but I figured Toho plus delinquents minus home video release would warrant a viewing. That’s how I discovered the great cop docudrama Car 33 Doesn't Answer (1955) years ago (why hasn’t Criterion released this yet?!). The film was a low key, semi-documentary style drama about a young man trying to go straight after a stint in youth prison (Kunie Tanaka plays fellow inmate), only to find out his gal (Yuriko Hoshi) had developed an attitude and a delinquent girl hairstyle while he was away. Good film and gorgeous print!

          Following Young Wolf was the awesome “Toho Pinky Violence” Rica (1972) in the Late Show, which was dedicated to manga artist Bonten Taro. Other films in the retro were the Rica sequels, Sex and Fury, and Female Yakuza Tale. A couple of Roman Porno films + Irezumi also accompanied the program in the neighbouring theater space Zamuza Asagaya. I think the program was split like this because the latter ones only had BDs available for screening whereas Laputa screens everything from film prints. Speaking of which, Rica had sadly been beaten to pulp and turned all pink. I hope they will discover a better print for future screenings.

          Laputa went a bit overboard with Bonten Taro merchandise this time

          Plus their usual other film books and CDs

          These books are for sale, but you can also browse them to kill time


          I was too lazy to scan it myself, so I just stole it from here:

          Rica finished around 22:30. Then it was time to head back to my capsule for a quick shower and too little sleep. I had to get up at 5:45 to head to the airport and fly not home but to work - yes, I had work on that day. Thank god it was a busy day, I'd have fallen asleep otherwise. Couldn't get any sleep during the flight thanks to Jetstar's "hang your head frontwards" type seats (seriously, who the hell designed those seats?) either.


          • Originally posted by Takuma View Post
            Tokyo-Osaka, part 3/3, the second half

            So close but so far. Telling myself to use the hotel/train/food money to buy a TV while trying to keep my composure.


            • I was in a local small multiplex (*) watching Night of the Living Dead (1968) (4K DCP) the other day, and found myself having a private cinema.

              In all honesty, two other viewers did show up on the last moment before the film started.

              Also, good to see A Serbian Film is going for a nationwide theatrical re-release. Touted as new 4K remaster. Obviously gonna be optically censored for some of the nudity, however, so no watch for me.

              * 4 screens, with program catered for the young and trendy adults.
              Screening now:
              Coming soon:


              • I had 9 hours to spare between flights in Tokyo, so of course I headed to Jimbocho to catch a movie. They were doing a series for actors and filmmakers celebrating their 100th anniversary. I watched the stylish Daiei noir Escape Man (脱獄者) (1967), which I don't think has been ever released on video. Slightly damaged but perfectly watchable 35mm print.

                Poster on the right, ad for the upcoming Fujita & Kumashiro joint retrospective on the left


                Escape Man in the middle