SciFi Japan

    Japan Society Reinstitutes `Monthly Classics` Film Screenings with Rarities, Re-Issues and Recent Discoveries

    New York`s Japan Society kicks off their `Monthly Classics` series with Japan’s first-ever color film, CARMEN COMES HOME. Photo courtesy of Japan Society and Janus. © 1951/2012 Shochiku Co., Ltd.

    Launches with Restoration of Japan’s First Color Film in September Source: Japan Society press release Special Thanks to Shannon Jowett Japan Society’s Film Program resurrects Monthly Classics to give New Yorkers regular screenings of beloved classics, hidden gems or recent discoveries of Japanese cinema on the first Friday of every month. Slated for September 2015 through June 2016, the first season of Monthly Classics launches Friday, September 4, 7:00 pm with Japan’s first-ever color film, CARMEN COMES HOME (1951), which was filmed during the end of the era of U.S. Occupation and addresses the issue of the influence of American culture in immediate postwar Japan. A “classic” in the traditional sense, the film was digitally restored in 2012 by Shochiku for Kinoshita’s centenary. This screening also marks the 120th anniversary of the renowned Shochiku studios. On Friday, October 2, at 7:00 pm, Monthly Classics screens PARADISE VIEW, director Go Takamine’s first theatrical feature. A rarely-seen, little-known and wholly under-regarded film from Okinawa, this pioneering work set the course for Takamine’s distinguished filmmaking career and paved the way for new Okinawan cinema. Commemorating the 30th anniversary of the film’s release, the screening is also part of Japan Society’s Okinawan Vibes series, celebrating the arts and culture of Okinawa. “Audiences who enjoy our seasonal repertory series and our summer JAPAN CUTS film festival have been telling us that they want see more consistent screenings throughout the year,” said Aiko Masubuchi, Japan Society Film Program Officer. “By showing audience favorites and unearthed rarities more regularly, we hope to satiate genre fans as well as appeal to those just beginning to dive into the incredibly diverse world of Japanese cinema. It also gives a chance to mark important cinematic milestones and anniversaries on a more timely basis.” With the full season schedule in the works, the November and December installments will be in tribute to the one-year anniversaries of the passing of legendary actors Ken Takakura and Bunta Sugawara. Admission: $12/$9 seniors and students/$5 Japan Society members. General admission tickets may be purchased in person at Japan Society, by calling the box office at 212-715-1258, or at SCREENING SCHEDULE & FILM DESCRIPTIONS

    Photo courtesy of Japan Society and Janus. © 1951/2012 Shochiku Co., Ltd.

    CARMEN COMES HOME (?????????, Karumen Kokyo ni Kaeru) Friday, September 4, 7:00 pm 1951, 86 min., DCP, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Keisuke Kinoshita. With Hideko Takamine, Shuji Sano, Chishu Ryu, Kuniko Igawa, Takeshi Sakamoto, Toshiko Kobayashi. The first Monthly Classics screening of the season kicks off with a restoration of Japan`s first color film, pioneered by Fujicolor. In this breezy musical comedy, exotic dancer Lily Carmen (an irresistible Hideko Takamine) returns to her quiet countryside home from the big city in grand fashion, immediately causing a stir as she frolics and sings among the town`s green fields in colorful, revealing outfits with her equally carefree sidekick Maya (Toshiko Kobayashi). Both a subtle satire on the influence of postwar American culture and a piece of lighthearted female-centric escapism, CARMEN COMES HOME endures as one of director Keisuke Kinoshita`s most beloved films. Screening in recognition of film studio Shochiku`s 120th anniversary, who oversaw the restoration. The restoration premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2012.

    Photo courtesy of Japan Society © Osamu Muranaka.

    PARADISE VIEW (????????, Paradaisu Byu) Friday, October 2, 7:00 pm **Part of the Okinawan Vibes Series 1985, 113 min., Blu-ray, color, in Okinawan dialect and Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Go Takamine. With Kaoru Kobayashi, Jun Togawa, Shinzoku Ogimi, Tomi Taira, Yoko Taniyama, Haruomi Hosono. Go Takamine’s first theatrical feature is a pioneering work of Okinawan cinema, filmed almost entirely in Okinawan dialect. Taking place around 1970, shortly before the resumption of Japanese sovereignty over Okinawa, the film tacitly addresses the island prefecture’s complicated history of occupation and feelings of dislocation through the story of a small community and its preparations for a wedding between a local girl and a Japanese teacher. On the periphery of these events is Reishu (Kaoru Kobayashi), who quits his job on a U.S. military base and uses the extra time to catch snakes and play with ants -- and get the bride-to-be pregnant. A leisurely-paced film full of uniquely Okinawan touches that mixes in aspects of the island’s folklore, Paradise View set the course for Takamine’s distinguished filmmaking career (as a native Okinawan, Takamine made a conscious effort to represent Okinawa on screen in a way that is culturally specific and politically cognizant). The film boasts a soundtrack by Yellow Magic Orchestra member Haruomi Hosono, who also has an acting role (as the Japanese teacher engaged to an Okinawan girl), and also stars underground music icon Jun Togawa. Screening in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the film’s release, PARADISE VIEW screened at the Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale) in 1986, where his follow-up film, Untama giru (1989) would win the Caligari Award in 1990. Related Event: Kon Ichikawa Restorations Friday & Saturday, October 16 & 17 In addition to Monthly Classics, Japan Society presents the North American Premiere of new 4k restorations of three masterpieces from renowned director Kon Ichikawa, celebrating his centenary.

    Photo courtesy of Japan Society. © Kadokawa Corporation

    CONFLAGRATION (??, Enjo, 1958) Friday, October 16, 7:00 pm 1958, 99 min., 35mm, b/w, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Kon Ichikawa. With Raizo Ichikawa, Tatsuya Nakadai, Ganjiro Nakamura. Known as Ichikawa`s favorite of his own films, CONFLAGRATION is the pinnacle of the many acclaimed literary adaptations he and his wife Natto Wada worked on together. Loosely based on true events that also inspired Yukio Mishima`s novel The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, the story involves the spiritual and psychological breakdown of an introverted, troubled youth named Goichi (Raizo Ichikawa), whose desire for pure beauty leads him to Kyoto`s Shukaku temple, where he becomes an apprentice to the priest. Haunted by the trauma of his father`s death, Goichi is unable to reconcile the sacred beauty of the temple with postwar reality, and his absolutist ideals become increasingly distorted until they lead to destruction. Ichikawa`s stark, poignant film is unforgettably rendered in stunning black and white by cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa.

    Photo courtesy of Japan Society. © Kadokawa Corporation

    HER BROTHER (????, Ototo) Saturday, October 17, 4:00 pm 1960, 98 min., 35mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Kon Ichikawa. With Keiko Kishi, Hiroshi Kawaguchi, Kinuyo Tanaka, Masayuki Mori. In writing about HER BROTHER, Ichikawa asks "...if one starts with the premise that everyone is essentially alone, then what follows?" Based on the autobiographical novel by Aya Koda, Ichikawa`s film is a moving, restrained family melodrama told from the viewpoint of Gen (Keiko Kishi), a lonely yet resilient young woman obligated to her distant writer father (Masayuki Mori) and invalid, devoutly Christian stepmother (Kinuyo Tanaka). Unable to make a life for herself in such a cold and oppressive household, Gen is left to serve as a surrogate mother for her over-indulged, delinquent younger brother Hekiro (Hiroshi Kawaguchi), to whom she remains lovingly devoted. Her Brother was recognized at the Cannes Film Festival with a Special Distinction by the C.S.T. Ex-aequo and given the Kinema Junpo Award for Best Film and Best Director in 1961.

    Photo courtesy of Japan Society. © Kadokawa Corporation

    AN ACTOR`S REVENGE (?????, Yukinojo Henge) Saturday, Oct 17, 7:00 pm 1963, 114 min., 35mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Kon Ichikawa. With Kazuo Hasegawa, Fujiko Yamamoto, Wakao Ayako, Ganjiro Nakamura, Raizo Ichikawa. A visually bold and imaginative remake of a popular silent film -- both featuring legendary screen actor Kazuo Hasegawa in a dual role. Ichikawa was assigned to remake Teinosuke Kinugasa`s 1935 melodrama AN ACTOR`S REVENGE, and enormously popular film in its day, after Deiei studios` dissatisfaction with the returns on the director`s previous films. Seeing potential in the material, Ichikawa worked with his wife, Natto Wada, to transform the pulpy source material into a spectacular visual masterpiece. Veteran film actor Kazuo Hasegawa reprises his original role as Yukinojo, an onnagata (a kabuki actor who specializes in women`s roles) during the Tokugawa period who seeks revenge on the men responsible for the ruin and suicide of his parents. Ingeniously conceived and executed as a mix of hyper-stylized kabuki theater and Western cinematic realism, AN ACTOR`S REVENGE features some of Ichikawa`s most elaborate use of the widescreen frame, spotlighting Yoshinobu Nishioka`s breathtaking production design and Setsuo Kobayashi`s vivid Cinemascope photography.

    About Japan Society

    Founded in 1907, Japan Society is a multidisciplinary hub for global leaders, artists, scholars, educators, and English and Japanese-speaking audiences. At the Society, more than 100 events each year feature sophisticated, topically relevant presentations of Japanese art and culture and open, critical dialogue on issues of vital importance to the U.S., Japan and East Asia. An American nonprofit, nonpolitical organization, the Society cultivates a constructive, resonant and dynamic relationship between the people of the U.S. and Japan. Japan Society is located at 333 East 47th Street between First and Second avenues (accessible by the 4/5/6 and 7 subway at Grand Central or the E and M subway at Lexington Avenue). For more information, call 212-832-1155 or visit

    About the Japan Society Film Program

    The Japan Society Film Program offers a diverse selection of Japanese films, from classics to contemporary independent productions. Its aim is to entertain, educate and support activities in the Society`s arts and culture programs. Japan Society has actively introduced Japanese cinema to New York’s international audiences since the 1970s, presenting works by the era’s then-new giants such as Shohei Imamura, Seijun Suzuki, and Hiroshi Teshigahara upon their first release, and groundbreaking retrospectives on now canonical figures such as Kenji Mizoguchi and Yasujiro Ozu. The Film Program has featured retrospectives of great directors, thematic series and many U.S. premieres, and toured some series to other U.S. venues. While Japan Society’s repertory film programming gained new momentum and institutional support in the 70s as a full-fledged program, the first screening at Japan Society was actually in 1922, a four-reel film of then Crown Prince Hirohito’s 1921 visit to Europe. For more, visit

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