SAMURAI MARATHON 1855
2019, 103 min, Dir: Bernard Rose

Bernard Rose’s astounding take on Japanese jidaigeki, or “period drama,” is set in the year 1855. After decades of isolation, Japan has started receiving trade ships from the rest of the world; amidst the new arrivals is an American merchant captain who brings with him whiskey, photography and, most important, pistols. These weapons are seen as a threat to the ancient Samurai and their code of honor, so the Annaka clan devise a test to determine if their men are ready should battle be necessary: a marathon in which the winner may ask of the master anything he may desire. But the Shogunate is fearful of the Annaka daimyo (feudal lord) and awaits word from their spy to see if they need to deploy their full might to crush the clan to smithereens. The stage is set for one spellbinding confrontation and an awe-inspiring marathon race against time. With a mesmerizing score by Philip Glass.


THE HAPPINESS OF THE KATAKURIS
KATAKURI-KE NO KÔFUKU
2001, 113 min, Japan, Dir: Takashi Miike

Whimsical musical numbers, grotesque horror and Claymation all come together in this wildly surreal film by one of the world’s greatest masters of blending genre. The Katakuri family open a bed-and-breakfast in the remote countryside but are met with misfortune when their guests start dying in spectacular fashion. Determined to prevent negative publicity from spoiling their new business, the Katakuris pile corpse after corpse in the backyard to keep up appearances.


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