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.


PALE FLOWER
KAWAITA HANA
1964, Janus Films, 96 min, Japan, Dir: Masahiro Shinoda

Aging yakuza soldier Muraki (Ryô Ikebe) returns from prison to an underworld he barely recognizes. Rival gangs have joined forces and his lethal skills and fealty no longer seem necessary. Adrift as a modern-day ronin, Muraki encounters the beguiling and mysterious Saeko (Mariko Kaga) in a gambling den; her reckless craving for excitement pushes them to dangerous extremes they are unable, or unwilling, to resist. An electrifying masterpiece of existential noir, so sleek and sensual in its imagery, editing and soundtrack it’s almost impossible to believe it was made in 1964. Toru Takemitsu's amazing score artfully combines natural sound and music into a compelling sonic mosaic.


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