Friday, April 18, 2008

Japanese Film Series to be Shown in Brattle, USA

The Brattle Film Foundation (BFF), the non-profit organization that
programs and operates the Brattle Theatre, is thrilled to announce
their new film series, No Borders, No Limits: Nikkatsu Action & 60s
Japan, running from Friday, April 18th through Thursday, April 24th,

The label said it all: "Nikkatsu akushon!" Nikkatsu was a Japanese
film studio that had been around since the silent days and akushon
meant "action," written in the katakana syllabary for foreign words.
During their peak in the late 1950s and 1960s, Nikkatsu Action films
evoked a cinematic world neither foreign nor Japanese. It was a mix
of the two, where Japanese tough guys had the swagger, moves, and
even the long legs of Hollywood movie heroes. It was a place where
the Tokyo streets, Yokohama docks, and Hokkaido hills took on an
exciting, exotic aura, as though they were stand-ins for Manhattan,
Marseilles, or even the American West. Where one guy with guts,
smarts, and a pair of quick fists could beat a whole gang of baddies.
One of the most famous progeny of the Nikkatsu Action moment is the
idiosyncratic and colorful director Seijun Suzuki whose bizarre
yakuza tales Branded To Kill and Tokyo Drifter have made him a cult
hero in the US.

In a celebration of these rare and overlooked gems of international B-
movie-making, curators Outcast Cinema have put together a series that
runs the gamut from strange, New Wave-ish youth films to yakuza
epics, and even includes a real Eastern-Western! Eschewing the more
well known Suzuki, Outcast has assembled an exemplary and exciting
batch of films from some of the most outrageous directors and stars
that you've never heard of!

As a complement to the special prints from Nikkatsu, the Brattle is
presenting a brief selection of other films being produced in Japan
in the 1960s… because what would a Japanese action series be without
a Tokyo-terrorizing monster and a samurai or two? Or three?

The lineup features five of the best and most bizarre movies from the
infamous Nikkatsu studio, none of which are available on video in the

A COLT IS MY PASSPORT (1967) A noir-ish thriller, where a hit man and
his buddy whack a prominent gang boss. Deadly complications ensue!

PLAINS WANDERER (1960) Akira Kobayashi plays a traveler on Japan's
back roads with most of the accoutrements of a Western hero – from a
horse to fringes, to a guitar and even a trusty bullwhip.

RED HANDKERCHIEF (1964) Kind of like a Japanese C.S.I. episode, a
disgraced former detective revisits a years-old case to resolve his
doubts about not only his own actions, but the true motives of his
former partner.

VELVET HUSTLER (aka LIKE A SHOOTING STAR) (1967) Velvet Hustler stars
Tesuya Watari as Goro, a Tokyo hitman who likes his women like he
likes his cars: fast and dangerous. Lookout!

THE WARPED ONES (1960) A frantic, black-and-white portrait of youth
culture gone wild. Two ex-cons and their prostitute friend go
completely off the deep end in this stylistic and amoral high-point
of 60s cinema.


The series also includes these other Japanese classics:

BLACK ROSE MANSION (1969) A wealthy playboy installs songbird "Black
Rose" in his elegant private men's club to bolster business - but he
gets more than he bargains for… A feverishly perverse, campy and
baroque freak-out.

DEATH BY HANGING (1968) A bleakly black comedy; a criminal is
sentenced to be hanged but mysteriously survives and, as the guards
and officials present soon find out, has lost all memory of his
crime, trial and eventual fate. Not on video!

HIGH AND LOW (1963) Akira Kurosawa, the seminal Japanese director,
takes us from the spacious hillside apartment of a hotshot Tokyo
businessman, to the lower depths of the city in this neo-noir

MOTHRA (1961) Sort of a trippy version of King Kong, featuring a pair
of foot high singing divas whose song is a telepathic call for help
to their island goddess, the gigantic moth creature, MOTHRA.

THREE OUTLAW SAMURAI (1964) A wandering samurai is swayed into
helping some starving farmers who have kidnapped a local lord's
daughter in protest over unfair taxes. In the process, much blood is,
of course, shed.

WOMAN IN THE DUNES (1964) A disquieting examination of power and
sexuality fueled by stunning visual imagery. An entomologist stays
overnight in a small town, only to awaken the next morning to find
himself trapped by encroaching sand dunes. An essential big-screen

NO BORDERS, NO LIMITS will kick off at the Brattle Theatre on
Friday, April 18th, and continue until Thursday, April 24th. The
Brattle Theatre is located at 40 Brattle Street, in the heart of
Harvard Square. Tickets are $9.50, $7.50 for students and $6.50 for

To learn more about NO BORDERS, NO LIMITS, visit the official Brattle
website at http://www.brattlef, email info@brattlefilm. org or
call the Brattle Film Foundation office at (617) 876-8021.

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