THE FACE OF ANOTHER
1966, Janus Films, 124 min, Japan, Dir: Hiroshi Teshigahara

This haunting meditation on identity focuses on Mr. Okuyama (Tatsuya Nakadai), a businessman who has been horribly disfigured in an industrial accident. Through his psychiatrist, the man is fitted with a lifelike mask molded from a stranger - but the new face sparks changes in Okuyama’s personality and he begins to lead a double life. Reunited with his WOMAN IN THE DUNES screenwriter Kôbô Abe and cinematographer Hiroshi Segawa, Teshigahara imbues this film with striking imagery and an unsettling atmosphere that recalls the creepiest corners of “The Twilight Zone.”


RAN
1985, Rialto Pictures, 160 min, Japan, Dir: Akira Kurosawa

In Akira Kurosawa's epic and existential samurai/Noh theater rendition of Shakespeare's "King Lear," a once-merciless and bloodthirsty Lord Hidetora (Tatsuya Nakadai) leaves his kingdom to his three sons. As Hidetora attempts to enjoy retirement in his twilight years, he is dropped into a nightmarish hell when filial squabbling and betrayal erupts. In Japanese with English subtitles.


SANJURO
TSUBAKI SANJURO
1962, Janus Films, 96 min, Japan, Dir: Akira Kurosawa

Director Akira Kurosawa helms this YOJIMBO sequel, utilizing Shugoro Yamamoto’s novel Peaceful Days as a model. Wandering ronin Sanjuro (Toshiro Mifune) decides to help a young samurai (Yuzo Kayama) and his brash cohorts when Kayama’s uncle (Yunosuke Ito), the chamberlain of their clan, is framed by a corrupt superintendent. Much of the humor and character interplay is based on Mifune’s scruffy appearance and the seeming contradiction – at least to the adolescent proper swordsmen – of his consummate, strategic skill. Tatsuya Nakadai is the prime adversary, a proud samurai in the superintendent’s employ who’s every bit as dangerous as Mifune. There’s not nearly as much swordplay here as in YOJIMBO – since the war is mainly one of words and subterfuge – but when the final burst of violence erupts courtesy of Mifune and Nakadai, it’s a dazzling shocker. In Japanese with English subtitles.


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