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A Fugitive From The Past (Kiga Kaikyo, 飢餓海峡)

Director – Tomu Uchida – 1965 – Japan – Cert. 15 – 183m

*****

Voted third in Kinema Junpo magazine’s 1999 list of the greatest Japanese film of all time, Tomu Uchida’s A Fugitive From The Past (1965) is the pinnacle of a directorial career that also includes Bloody Spear At Mount Fuji (1955) and The Mad Fox (1962). In the poll, it was beaten by Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai (1954) at number one and Mikio Naruse’s Floating Clouds (1955) at number two, For the record, the fourth title was Yasujiro Ozu’s Tokyo Story (1953) while the fifth was Yuzo Kawashima’s Bakumatsu Taiyoden / The Legend Of The Sun-Tribe From The Bakumatsu Era (1957). While four of those titles were made in the mid-fifties, often considered the golden age of classical Japanese cinema, Fugitive dates from the mid-sixties, allowing it to look at Japan’s post-war period from a greater distance.

Uchida’s film, which spans the decade 1947-57, covers a colossal amount of subjects in its first 50 minutes…

[Read the full review at All The Anime.]

A Fugitive From The Past is released on Arrow Blu-ray.

Trailer:

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Melancholic (メランコリック)

Melancholic

Director – Seiji Tanaka – 2018 – Japan – Cert. 15 – 114m

*****

Melancholic

Director – Seiji Tanaka – 2016 – Japan – Cert. 15 – 15m

*****

On Dual Format Blu-ray/DVD, rental on Apple TV and Amazon from Monday, September 7th

Quiet, unemployed Tokyo University graduate Kazuhiko (Yoji Minagawa, also the film’s producer) lives with his similarly introverted parents. When one night his mum prematurely empties the family hot tub, he pays his first visit to the local bathhouse where he runs into chirpy classmate Yuri (Mebuki Yoshida) who talks him into attending their upcoming high school reunion.

At that event, he’s a fish out of water while everyone else gathers around the nondescript student Tamura (Yuta Okubo) who has since made good as a businessman and investor. Then Yuri rescues Kazuhiko and the pair sit conversing deeply on the staircase ignored by everyone else. A series of dinner dates follows, romance blossoms and before you know it he’s staying overnight at her flat.

Encouraged by Yuri, Kazuhiko gets himself one of two attendants’ jobs at the bathhouse run by the genial Mr. Azuma (Makoto Hada). Kazuhiko never wanted to go to work for a top company like most graduates and the work suits his temperament.… Read the rest

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Black Rain

Director – Ridley Scott – 1989 – US – 15 – 120

**

UK Release date: January 26th 1990.

On paper, Ridley Scott’s Black Rain reads like a winner: a police action thriller with Michael Douglas and sidekick Andy Garcia (then a little known star in the ascendant) as an NYPD cop hunting a villain in Japan. Where the film scores heavily is on the visual style level; this is Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982) imagery without the superficial Sci-Fi mega-budget special effects overlay. Or plot. The film looks startling throughout, due in part to Scott’s collaboration with Dutch cinematographer Jan de Bont (later director of Twister, 1996, not to mention Speed, 1994, and its sequel); every frame is a thing of beauty.

Unfortunately, Scott is not shooting a Hovis commercial here, and we need a rather more substantial screenplay – such as Alien (1979) or the extraordinary Thelma & Louise (1991) – than the flimsy sketch on which Scott hangs his current images. Generally, though, Michael Douglas – and the rest of the cast including the versatile Kate Capshaw (Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom, Steven Spielberg, 1984) – are wasted.

Things start off well enough with a leather-jacketed Michael Douglas racing his cycle against a fellow biker along a New York quayside.… Read the rest