THE BAD SLEEP WELL
WARUI YATSU HODO YOKU NEMURU
1960, Janus Films, 151 min, Japan, Dir: Akira Kurosawa

Director Akira Kurosawa’s uncompromising exposé of Japanese white-collar crime is a startlingly bleak saga. Toshiro Mifune infiltrates the family of a corrupt businessman (Masayuki Mori) who had Mifune’s father, one of his underlings, murdered. Mifune, having switched identities with a friend (Takeshi Kato), worms his way into Mori’s household by marrying his crippled daughter (Kyoko Kagawa) and becoming best friends with his son (Tatsuya Mihashi) - both of whom are decent and don’t approve of their father’s nefarious connections with dishonest politicians and the underworld. Ironically, it is Mifune’s actually falling in love with Kagawa that lessens his resolve, which sociopath Mori ultimately manipulates to his advantage for the brutally realistic and pitiless conclusion. In Japanese with English subtitles.


SANSHO THE BAILIFF
SANSHO DAYU
1954, Janus Films, 120 min, Japan, Dir: Kenji Mizoguchi

In medieval Japan, a noble family is splintered when the father, the compassionate provincial governor, is exiled. The mother is sold into prostitution and the son and daughter shipped to the slave labor camp of oppressive Sansho the Bailiff (Eitaro Shindo). Kinuyo Tanaka, Kyoko Kagawa, Akitake Kono, Noriko Tachibana and Yoshiaki Hanayanagi all turn in splendid performances, perfectly embodying the slow grind of degradation and ultimately the transcendence of suffering as time passes. One of Mizoguchi’s most enduring classics. In Japanese with English subtitles.


MOTHRA
1961, Sony Repertory, 101 min, Dir: Ishiro Honda

Giant caterpillar-turned-avenging-insect Mothra wreaks havoc on Japan when its best friends - two tiny, telepathic, singing sisters (played by real-life siblings Yumi and Emi Ito) - are kidnapped by an unscrupulous promoter and forced to perform in a Tokyo nightclub.


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