Masaichi Nagata

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Fires On The Plain Review


Excellent
A follow-up to his masterful and memorable Burmese Harp, Kon Ichikawa's Fires on the Plain is another searing anti-war exercise that makes its point simply by showing the suffering and degradation of Japanese soldiers abandoned and left to their own devices in the Philippines as World War II winds down.

Tubercular soldier Tamura (Eiji Funakoshi) has been sent away from his small unit to seek care at a field hospital with orders to kill himself rather than return in his sick condition. Along the way, he's spooked by columns of smoke rising from the jungle, fires he fears may be tended by American soldiers or Filipino guerrillas. Eventually he finds the hospital, or rather the thatched hut that serves as a last stop for many dying soldiers who obsess over finding just one more yam to eat. When an air raid blasts the place to smithereens, Tamura steps through the corpses to look for salt and yams himself.

Continue reading: Fires On The Plain Review

Ugetsu Review


Extraordinary
Kenji Mizoguchi's mist-shrouded masterpiece Ugetsu is a morality tale that is ever mindful of the frail humanity of its characters. Set in Japan during the tumultuous sixteenth century - when the country was torn apart by civil wars - the film follows what happens to two couples, living the simple life in a small village, who get swept up in the insanity and lose their moorings to reality.

Genjuro (Masayuki Mori) is a farmer and part-time potter who's sick of being poor and is delighted when he finds that a trip with his wares to a nearby town earns him a pretty penny. Quickly getting greedy, he works night and day to make more product to sell, although his wife Miyagi (Kinuyo Tanaka) urges caution. Genjuro's brother-in-law Tobei (Eitaro Ozawa) is also sick of the simple life, but his way out is the dream of a little kid: He wants to be a samurai. His first attempt to run away and join one of the roving armies doesn't work out so well, though, with the samurai kicking him away, laughing and saying to come back when he has armor and a spear. After the village is ransacked by soldiers, Genjuro's kiln and wares somehow survive, so all four of them head to town to sell everything they can to rebuild their lives. All that comes before this point - pillaging, poverty, hopelessness - is just precursor, though, as the men are each presented with the ability to live out their dreams, opportunities they quickly snatch, leaving their loved ones to fend for themselves in a lawless and ghost-plagued land.

Continue reading: Ugetsu Review

Floating Weeds Review


Excellent
All serious students of film eventually find their way to Yasujiro Ozu, the legendary Japanese director who made many small-scale yet gut-wrenching family dramas over a long career, the best example of which, Tokyo Story, is a five-star filmcritic.com pick.

Ozu's career was so long that in one case, he made the same movie twice. 1959's Floating Weeds is actually a remake of Ozu's own 1934 Story of Floating Weeds, a silent film that's included as part of this Criterion DVD and is well worth renting in tandem with Floating Weeds to see Ozu's evolution over time. Some of the same actors even appear in both films, albeit in different roles.

Continue reading: Floating Weeds Review

Masaichi Nagata

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Masaichi Nagata Movies

Fires On The Plain Movie Review

Fires On The Plain Movie Review

A follow-up to his masterful and memorable Burmese Harp, Kon Ichikawa's Fires on the Plain...

Ugetsu Movie Review

Ugetsu Movie Review

Kenji Mizoguchi's mist-shrouded masterpiece Ugetsu is a morality tale that is ever mindful of the...

Floating Weeds Movie Review

Floating Weeds Movie Review

All serious students of film eventually find their way to Yasujiro Ozu, the legendary Japanese...

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