Shohei Imamura's Japan

5/25/07 to 6/30/07

Famous for the controversial subject matter and raw energy of his films, Shohei Imamura depicted a Japan untouched by the tea ceremony, Zen, or conventional gentility. In Imamura's universe, Japanese women are not long-suffering, modest females, but survivors-self-aware, self-serving, and sexual. At once sensuous and structured, outrageous and analytical, his films are "obviously the work of a supremely assured artist, and one who is at home with his (and our) most basic instincts."-N.Y. Times

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  • Pigs and Battleships, June 16

  • Upcoming
  • Past
  • Past

Past Films

  • Dr. Akagi

    • Saturday, June 30 6:30 pm

    Imamura turns war and liver disease into material for comedy in "a film about a Japanese country doctor and his patients scrambling to survive the final days of their disastrous Pacific War. As lively, irreverent, and bizarrely cheerful as any of Imamura's previous low-life sagas."-Village Voice

  • Warm Water Under a Red Bridge

    • Saturday, June 30 9:00 pm

    In his final film, a "lovely, loopy sex comedy . . . Imamura gave free rein to both the demons and the better angels of his nature, and to both the expressive jaggedness and the extraordinary grace of which his masterly technique was capable."-N.Y. Times

  • The Eel

    • Friday, June 29 8:30pm

    An alternately clinical and chaotic portrait of a paroled killer, his pet fish, and the gang of misfits they take refuge with, all lovingly rendered with Imamura's typical humor. "Unpredictable and captivating."-L.A. Times

  • Karayuki-san: The Making of a Prostitute

    • Friday, June 29 7:00pm

    With compassion and irony, Imamura profiles a Japanese woman lured from her home to work in a Malaysian brothel, revealing the role of prostitution in Japan's economic and military expansion. “Perhaps the most brilliant and feeling of Imamura's fine documentaries.”-Joan Mellen

  • Zegen

    • Thursday, June 28 7:30pm

    Imamura regular Ken Ogata stars in this satire on colonialism about a hairdresser who is sent to Manchuria to spy on the Russians and becomes kingpin of a string of brothels throughout Southeast Asia. “Epic, energetic, sexually impudent, grotesquely funny” (Cinematheque Ontario)-and based on a true story.

  • Vengeance Is Mine

    • Saturday, June 23 6:30pm

    Please see Tuesday, May 29.

  • Black Rain

    • Friday, June 22 8:45pm

    Beginning with the blast on August 6, 1945, and focusing on the psychological toll rather than the wholesale carnage, Imamura “treats the medical horrors of post-atomic Hiroshima with a tense, sorrowful reserve.”-N.Y. Times

  • A History of Postwar Japan as Told by a Bar Hostess

    • Tuesday, June 19 7:30pm

    7:30 A History of Postwar Japan as Told by a Bar Hostess
    The title tells the premise of this “compulsively watchable (film) achieving quite casually what many films have labored to produce: the Toltsoyan sweep of historic events reflected in, or passing remotely by, the intimacy of individual lives.”-Sight & Sound

  • Pigs and Battleships

    • Saturday, June 16 6:30pm

    “A rambunctious carnival of postwar folly, set in the port city of Yokosuka during the American occupation: everybody's trying to make a buck, to find some fast, cheap sex, and to keep from getting killed by either poverty or the omnipresent yakuza gangs, which together rule the town.”-N.Y. Times

  • A Man Vanishes

    • Saturday, June 16 8:45pm

    What began as a documentary on johatsu, the phenomenon of people going missing in overcrowded Japan, became a brilliant film years ahead of its time in its blurring of fact and fiction, “a coup de cinéma equaled only by Kiarostami's Close-Up.”-Cinematheque Ontario

  • Endless Desire

    • Thursday, June 14 7:30pm

    In a rough, hilarious black comedy about the colorful underbelly of Osaka, five motley characters celebrate the tenth anniversary of Japan's capitulation to the Allies by descending to a former air-raid shelter where they know a cache of morphine was buried.

  • Stolen Desire

    • Tuesday, June 12 7:30pm

    A rare opportunity to see Imamura's first film, a ribald depiction of a traveling theater troupe whose director, modeled after Imamura, is an intellectual and whose actors hail from the sleaziest section of Osaka.

  • Eijanaika

    • Friday, June 8 7:30pm

    An epic depiction of the people's uprising at the fall of the Tokugawa Shogunate in the 1860s-“a sprawling, superb-looking period piece charged with Imamura's characteristically fevered eroticism and underplayed black humor. As spectacle, it's stunning in its dynamism.”-Village Voice

  • The Profound Desire of the Gods

    • Tuesday, June 5 7:00pm

    This color masterpiece offers a fresh look at the clash between machine age and noble savage. An engineer who arrives to survey a remote island in the Ryukus finds a primitive culture unencumbered by society's complex rules-but with rules of their own.

  • Intentions of Murder

    • Saturday, June 2 8:20pm

    A neglected housewife is raped by an intruder with whom she develops a bizarre relationship, typical of Imamura characters who “keep moving the moral bar in order to stay alive and get what they need. . . . Imamura gazes at her in quiet awe.”-N.Y. Times

  • The Pornographers

    • Friday, June 1 8:50pm

    The story of an Osaka man who makes pornographic films out of a sense of duty to society is the apex of Imamura's incomparable dark wit. “Real and piquant eccentricity . . . bleakly funny . . . well ahead of its time.”-N.Y. Times

  • Vengeance Is Mine

    • Tuesday, May 29 7:30pm

    Shown in a new print, Imamura's portrait of a real-life serial killer reveals, “in starker definition than ever before, just what the human animal is capable of when it abandons the pretense of restraining-or even explaining-itself. . . . Through its very plainness and dire clarity, a dark poem of bottomless need.”-N.Y. Times. Repeated on June 23.

  • The Insect Woman

    • Saturday, May 26 6:30pm

    A potent portrait of a woman who “bounces back and forth, like a pinball, between a rural existence with her awful family and an ostensibly more independent urban existence. . . . Imamura's treatment is lucid, savagely economical, pathos-free . . . respecting the blind persistence with which she crawls and scrambles and slogs her way through.”-N.Y. Times

  • The Ballad of Narayama

    • Friday, May 25 9:05pm

    Imamura's deeply felt retelling of a folk legend portrays the final months of a matriarch in the context of rural traditions that call for the elderly to make way for the young. “Made with Imamura's customary black humor and brutal pageantry.”-Village Voice. “Cruel and exalting.”-N.Y. Times