It matters for the reason that Suzuki's muscular Fighting Elegy, which opens in 1932, follows the exploits of a middle school student named Kiroku (Hideki Takahashi) as he fights his way to the top of the testosterone-fuelled machine that this rise in militarism first tooled. In this he is driven by patriotism, of course, but his primary motive in building his body and defying authority is to sublimate the intolerable lust he feels toward proper, Catholic Michiko (Junko Asano), with whose family he is lodging. In the gangs with whom Kiroku spends time, chasing after girls is for "sissies." And Kiroku, a Catholic himself, can predict all too easily how Jesus would feel about the whole thing. Masturbation helps, provided you can find a spot in the house where there are no crucifixes hanging in plain view, but Kiroku's primary mode of release remains fighting.
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The premise of Onibaba has the ring of folklore: in feudal Japan, two women - a mother and her daughter-in-law - manage their hardscrabble existence on a marshy plain by luring errant samurai to their deaths and selling off their wear. The bodies are disposed of in the title void, a remarkably deep - possibly bottomless - abyss. Two events unsettle their lives: a male neighbor returns from battle, taking up with the younger woman (technically the wife of the older woman's son); and the older woman procures from a samurai a peculiar mask (the film's secondary symbol), an item that soon develops a character of its own.
Continue reading: Onibaba Review
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