KWAIDAN
1965, Janus Films, 160 min, Japan, Dir: Masaki Kobayashi

After more than a decade of sober political dramas and socially minded period pieces, the great Japanese director Masaki Kobayashi shifted gears dramatically for this rapturously stylized quartet of ghost stories. Featuring colorfully surreal sets and luminous cinematography, these haunting tales of demonic comeuppance and spiritual trials, adapted from writer Lafcadio Hearn’s collections of Japanese folklore, are existentially frightening and meticulously crafted.


HARAKIRI
SEPPUKU
1962, Janus Films, 134 min, Japan, Dir: Masaki Kobayashi

An intense, intricately composed meditation by master director Masaki Kobayashi (KWAIDAN) on the war between the feudal ethos and humanity in the Japanese psyche. Recently impoverished samurai Tatsuya Nakadai attempts to take vengeance on the clan who forced his son-in-law (Akira Ishihama) to commit seppuku (hara-kiri). Using the clan’s own code of honor against it, Nakadai slowly, ruthlessly forces the film to its shattering climax. Toru Takemitsu provides the scarily dissonant score. With Tetsuro Tanba and Rentaro Mikuni. In Japanese with English subtitles.


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