11 Japanese movies to watch in quarantine.

Introduction

With Covid-19 raging throughout the world, many people are ‘ordered’/asked by their governments to stay inside and socially distance themselves. To overcome this harsh time, we compiled a list of ten amazing and easily available Japanese movies to watch during these strange and difficult times.

Our recommendations

Sword of Doom (1966) by Kihachi Okamoto

“Sword of Doom is everything one can and should expect from a samurai narrative. By framing the beauty of movement and playing thoughtfully with geometry, Okamoto crafted a love-letter to the art of sword-fighting as such, but not without showing – and this is exquisitely revealed by Nakadai’s acting performance, that the road of one’s jouissance could lead to one’s destruction, physically as well as mentally. In short, Sword of Doom is a true classic that has withstood the test time.”

Available on blu-ray, dvd and On Demand: https://www.criterion.com/films/925-the-sword-of-doom

Antiporno (2016) by Sion Sono

“Antiporno is one of the most accomplished narratives Sion Sono has ever composed. As the cinematographical lyricism – poetics by movement and poetics by the signifier – progresses, the narrative masterly isolates the problematic nature of male sexual enjoyment and the hypocrite situation of a male-dominant society professing freedom. Antiporno, as the name presumes, is not erotic at all, but a downright fabulous crafted narrative about the problematic nature of coping with male sexual enjoyment and with a male-oriented society. A delightful must-see.”

Available on dual format: https://arrowfilms.com/product-detail/antiporno-dual-format/TWFBD037

Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji (1955) by Tomo Uchida

“Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji is, in short, an amazing narrative. Moreover, this light-hearted tale of a symbolically impotent samurai and his servants is also a sharp critique of Japanese societal functioning of the fifties – a critique that remains relevant for contemporary Japanese society. As one can, without a doubt, consider Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji a forgotten masterpiece by Tomu Uchida, we cannot but recommend every movie enthusiast to pick up Arrow Video’s latest Blu-ray release.”

Available on Blu-ray: https://arrowfilms.com/product-detail/bloody-spear-at-mount-fuji-blu-ray/FCD1803

The Legend of the Stardust Brothers (1985) by Macoto Tezka

“The Legend of the Stardust Brothers is one of those rare narratives that has become better by aging, instead of turning ugly and sour. While the ripeness of the narrative is not able to beautify all its faults, the pure fun oozing from the narrative and the performances secures the enjoyment the spectator can extract from this energetic and truly irresistible legend. In other words, the time for this narrative to become a cult-classic has finally arrived.”

Available on Blu-ray (+dvd): http://thirdwindowfilms.com/films/the-legend-of-the-stardust-brothers/

One Cut Of The Dead (2018) by Shinichiro Ueda

“One Cut of The Dead is one of the most pleasant surprises of this year. Furthermore, it is one of or even the funniest movie released this year. While the one-take ‘horror’ narrative might raise some eyebrows at first, the clever and inventive meta-narrative that follows successfully turns One Cut Of The Dead into a very hilarious tongue-in-the-cheek referential comedy that, when all is said and done, concerns nothing other than the joy, even if it is against all odds, of releasing a movie.”

Available on Dual format and On Demand: http://thirdwindowfilms.com/films/one-cut-of-the-dead/

The Third Murder (2017) by Hirokazu Kore-eda

“The Third Murder might not be Kore-eda’s finest, as it lacks the moving mono-no-aware he is so talented in evoking, it is still an unsettling and powerful account of the problematic aspects marking Japan’s legal system – a system enabling the third murder. Even with its rather undramatic finale, Kore-eda’s beautifully structured narrative does not fail to leave its spectators with a uncomfortable feeling, as one is forced to confront the unfair fact that the game of signifiers and the image, as seen by the societal Other, is more influential for the court proceedings than the uncovering of truth – truth to be understood as the narrative explaining most of the material aspects.”

Available on blu-ray: https://arrowfilms.com/product-detail/the-third-murder-blu-ray/FCD1777

Dangan Runner (1996) by Sabu

“While Dangan Runner is somewhat rough around the cinematographical edges, Sabu has succeeded to craft an extremely enjoyable commentary on the role the imaginary phallic object plays within male psychological functioning. While this narrative is, without a doubt, a must-see for fans of Sabu, as it concerns the first rendition of what would later become his trademark narrative style, i.e. action-comedies driven by coincidence, this more cerebral comedy should, in fact, be on every Japanese cinema lover’s to-see list.”

Available on Blu-ray and On Demand: http://thirdwindowfilms.com/films/dangan-runner/

Lady Snowblood (1973) by Toshiya Fujita

“Lady Snowblood proves to be an expressionistic cinematographed revenge tale, with powerful and stylish imagery that lingers in one’s mind. Lady Snowblood may not have any really impressive set pieces, but empowered by the mesmerizing performance of Meiko Kaji, Fujita artfully translated Koike’s true purpose to the screen: the creation of a strong, beautiful demonic woman which turns cutting down people, with her beautiful sword, into an art.”

Available on dual format: https://arrowfilms.com/product-detail/lady-snowblood—lady-snowblood-2-dual-format/FCD662

Destruction babies (2016) by Tetsuya Mariko

“Due to the sober cinematographical presentation of the excess of violence, the nihilistic Destruction Babies may not be for everyone. But for those who are able to accept the emptines that marks the narrative and its spaces, a wonderful but slightly disturbing confrontation with violent enjoyment and the failure of the symbolic mediation awaits. Yes, Destruction Babies is provocative, but not only due to its framing of violence. The true provocation lies in its rather hidden critique of a society struggling with enjoyment and authority.”

Available on blu-ray and On-Demand: http://thirdwindowfilms.com/films/destruction-babies/

House (1977) by Obayashi Nobuhiko

“Even if the acting is unpolished and some cinematographical choices hurt the overall narrative flow, House still remains, beyond any doubt, one of the most creative and figurative ghost narratives ever made. And while this is already an exceptional achievement, the fact that Nobuhiko Ōbayashi’s eccentric visual composition also turns out to be one of the most pure and disturbing confrontations with the uncanny transforms this narrative into nothing other than a classic, a classic that will long linger in one’s mind.”

Available on blu-ray/dvd, and On-Demand: https://www.criterion.com/films/27523-house

To look Forward to: Killing (2018) by Shinya Tsukamoto

“Zan is an utter delight from start to end. With its masterful cinematographical blend and its effective musical accompaniment, Tsukamoto is able to bring Mokunoshin’s subjective dilemma poignantly to the fore – a subjective dilemma that shows that, while the cycle of life never stops, the cycle of human violence, as unbroken, destroys societal structures and the subjectivity of many – not in the least the subjectivity of the one wielding the sword. And while those expecting a traditional samurai narrative might be disappointed, those that realize Tsukamoto’s accomplishment – to infuse jidai-geki once again with criticism – will be delighted to be find one of the Tsukamoto’s most accomplished narratives.”

Available on blu-ray and on demand from 26 April: http://thirdwindowfilms.com/films/tsukamoto-killing-haze-denchu-kozo

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