October 5-14, 2001

American Cinematheque Presents...

Japanese Outlaw Masters 3: The New Generation

Sponsored by the Japan Foundation

Series compiled by Chris D. and Dennis Bartok with the assistance of Gwen Deglise and David Shultz. Our special thanks to Hiromi Aihara for her extraordinary help in organizing this series!

Special Thanks: Naoko Watanabe and Rie Takauchi/THE JAPAN FOUNDATION; Tetsuki Ijichi/TIDE POINT PICTURES; Takayuki Yuhara/DAIEI CO.; Richard Jeffery/SEDIC INT’L.; Naoya Otsuka/KSS; Michiko Otake/KING RECORDS CO./STARCHILD; Anna Bechtol/A.D. VISION; Kristen Larsen/MANGA ENT.; Yasue Nobusawa/ NIKKATSU CO.; Satoko Ishida/SHOCHIKU CO.; Pascale Raimonda/CELLULOID DREAMS; KITANO PRODUCTIONS; Natsuko Noomote/PIA FILM FESTIVAL; Yusuke Horiuchi/GAGA COMMUNICATIONS; Mika Umehashi/TOHOKUSHINSHA; Akiko Funatsu/OMEGA; Yoshiki Hayashi; Alvin Lu, Patrick Macias, Tomoo Machiyama/PULP MAGAZINE

Tickets available 30 days in advance.

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Following the success of our first two "Japanese Outlaw Masters" series in 1997 and 1999, we’ve come up with another two week showcase featuring some of the wildest, fastest and most uncompromising new Japanese genre films from the past decade. The series leads off with a 4-film mini-tribute to one of Japan’s most prolific and outrageous directors, Takashi Miike (who has directed nearly thirty films in the past ten years!), beginning with his shattering psychological thriller AUDITION. Other featured directors include cyberpunk auteur Shinya (TETSUO: THE IRON MAN) Tsukamoto with TOKYO FIST and his latest GEMINI; two of "Beat" Takeshi Kitano’s rarest films, KIDS RETURN and SCENE AT THE SEA; manga artist-turned-director Takashi Ishii’s newest, the chilling FREEZE ME as well as his all-girl action flick GONIN 2; Masayuki Ochiai’s sci-fi/romance PARASITE EVE, a major box-office hit in Japan – plus more crime thrillers and provocative horror movies. Strap yourself in and get ready for one helluva ride!!

 

Friday, October 5 – 7:00 PM

AUDITION, 1999, Cinematheque Presents/Vitagraph Films,115 min. Director Takashi Miike’s break-out hit, AUDITION is – along with Kurosawa’s CURE – one of the darkest and most disturbing thrillers to emerge from Japan in many years. Widowed movie executive Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi) decides it’s finally time to start dating again -- with the help of one of his drinking buddies, he holds fake auditions for a non-existent movie role, just to meet girls. Aoyama’s plan succeeds beyond his wildest expectations when he hooks up with former ballet dancer Eihi Shiina, who seems to be the perfect girlfriend – until her sweet, compliant nature is shockingly stripped away, revealing her true personality ... Be forewarned that the final half-hour of AUDITION contains some of the most graphic and unforgettable images of violence ever put on screen. "A lethally poised Venus flytrap of a movie ... the best-disguised psychotronic splatter flick in recent memory" – Dennis Lim, Village Voice. No One Under 17 Will Be Admitted To This Screening.

 

Friday, October 5 – 9:45 PM

DEAD OR ALIVE, 1999, Tide Point, 105 min. From the insanely-kinetic, 10-minute thrill-ride of an opening mixing go-go girls, multiple assassinations and a bowl of hot noodles, through the nerve-numbing surprise ending, Takashi Miike’s DEAD OR ALIVE is a non-stop, blood-and-bullets packed action fest focusing on the explosive emotional rivalry between cop Sho Aikawa and gang killer Riki Takeuchi. One of the most exciting go-for-broke takes on the gangster film since John Woo’s A BETTER TOMORROW series. With Renji Ishibashi, Susumu Terajima. [DEAD OR ALIVE will be released theatrically in L.A. soon after this series by Tide Point Pictures.] No One Under 17 Will Be Admitted To This Screening.

Saturday, October 6 – 5:00 PM

GEMINI (SOSEIJI) 1999, Sedic International, 84 min. An astonishing departure for the bad boy of techno-punk Japanese cinema, director Shinya (TETSUO: THE IRON MAN) Tsukamoto, GEMINI is a haunting, turn-of-the-century thriller about a young doctor (Masahiro Motoki) and his beautiful, amnesiac wife (Ryo), who encounter the doctor’s vengeful, separated-at-birth twin in a perverse battle of wills. The gothic terror that lurks in a very deep well outside the couple’s house is spawned as much by class barriers as it is by warped sibling rivalry. An uncompromisingly brilliant horror yarn.

 

Saturday, October 6 - 7:15 PM

Takashi Miike Double-Thrill Ride!!

CITY OF LOST SOULS 2000, Daiei, 105 min. If you thought Takashi Miike couldn’t top the ultra-violent thrills in DEAD OR ALIVE, think again. CITY OF LOST SOULS is a lyrical live action manga that explores dimensions of hitherto uncharted underworld violence as well as portraying a beautiful, unsentimental love story. Half-caste Japanese-Brazilian Mario (Teah) rescues his Chinese girlfriend Kei (Michele Reis) from being deported, then sabotages a coke deal, two incidents that spark a Chinese mafia vs. Japanese yakuza war and a frantic police manhunt. A stunning, brutally phantasmagorical fairy tale.

 

THE GUYS FROM PARADISE (TENGOKU KARAKIETA OTOKO TACHI) 2000, KSS, 114 min. Dir. Takashi Miike. Arrogant Japanese businessman Koji Kikkawa, unjustly nailed for heroin possession in the Phillipines and thrown into Manila’s most hellish prison, is abruptly introduced to a chaotic reality that causes him to doubt his wife, his lawyer and even himself. Eccentric drug dealer Tsutomu Yamazaki (HIGH & LOW, TAMPOPO) is hiding from a vicious yakuza gang while in stir and recruits Kikkawa into his bizarre crew of screw-loose cutthroats. Master action stylist Miike weaves another over-the-top tall tale from gritty, real-life locations and surreally humorous twists of fate.

 

Sunday, October 7 – 5:00 PM

UZUMAKI (VORTEX) 2000, Tide Point. Promising new director Higuchinsky’s adaptation of Junji Ito's horror manga, UZUMAKI depicts a wide-eyed schoolgirl's spookily surreal adventures when she discovers her hometown has been cursed with an obsession for spirals. Friends and relatives soon go mad, either dying and leaving their pretzel-like corpses behind or mutating into human snails! Disarmingly dreamlike, UZUMAKI is by turns scary, funny, nostalgic, and always evocative of a charmingly odd world on the other side of the looking glass.

 

Sunday, October 7 - 7:30 PM

Japanese Fantasy/Sci-fi Double Feature!!

NEKOJIRU-SO, 2000, King Records Co., 33 min. Dir. Tatsuo Sato. Based on the manga created by late artist Nekojiru (who tragically committed suicide in the mid-1990’s), this is a darkly hallucinatory anime following the adventures of little kitties Nyatta and Nyako. Their shopping trip to cheer each other up turns into a mindbending voyage across time and space where they flee the God of Death and encounter illusory circuses, tortured ‘time creatures’ and a bored, sadistic millionaire. A certified masterpiece where innocence and cruel terror mingle in a time warp of a messed-up universe. (projected on video). This film is not subtitled, but there is no dialog.

PARASITE EVE , 1997, A/D Vision, 120 min. Pioneering biochemist Nagashima (Hiroshi Mikami) is making breakthroughs in the study of mitochondria, the building blocks of DNA, when his cherished spouse Kiyomi (Riona Hazuki) suffers brain death in a freak car accident. Grief stricken, Nagashima cultivates her cells to stay in touch with his beloved. However, these mitochondria have ideas of their own (!), evolving Kiyomi’s persona as a combination super-woman/1950’s sci-fi monster, in director Masayuki Ochiai’s strangely romantic techno-fantasy – a major box-office hit in Japan, now finally seeing its U.S. release.

 

Wednesday, October 10 - 7:30 PM

Shinya Tsukamoto Double Feature!!

TOKYO FIST, 1995, Manga Entertainment, 87 min. Terminally bored businessman Tsuda (played by director Shinya Tsukamoto) has his life upended when he runs into a resentful boxer friend from his past. Tsuda’s girl, slowly going mad from their unchanging routine, leaves him for the boxer and escapes her tortured feelings through self-mutilation. Tsuda then decides to become a fighter himself, an act which will channel his seething anger against not only her and his pal, but against the unimaginative world oppressing him.

TETSUO 2: BODY HAMMER, 1992, Manga Entertainment, 93 min. Director Shinya Tsukamoto reworks themes from his pioneering cyberpunk classic TETSUO: THE IRON MAN, this time supplied with a bigger budget and a startling palette of erupting color, and stoked with more lunatic adrenaline madness. Tomoro Taguchi, his small son kidnapped by a band of cyberpunk skinheads, goes on a vengeful quest which will reveal his mysterious childhood as well as spur his own startling mutation into a superhuman machine/weapon – a transformation ignited as much by impotent rage as by biological and environmental change. "Tsukamoto is painting a canvas…a vision as complex, detailed and obsessive as a painting by Hieronymous Bosch." Roger Ebert, Chicago-Sun Times.

 

Friday, October 12 - 7:00 PM

FREEZE ME, 2001, Nikkatsu, 101 min. GONIN director Takashi Ishii's latest is a startlingly ruthless retribution tale where macho psychosis spawns its own chain reaction of insanity. After five years of difficult healing, rape victim Chihiro (Harumi Inoue) has put the horror behind her -- only to have one of her monstrous attackers return, sabotaging her engagement and warning her that his two other sick-o partners will shortly reappear as well. How she manages to turn the tables on the predators, achieving momentary peace of mind, only to have it repeatedly dissolve into new terror, is perfectly embodied in the film's title.

 

Friday, October 12 - 9: 15 PM

Takashi Ishii Bad Girl Double Feature!!

GONIN 2, 1996, Shochiku, 105 min. Director Takashi Ishii's roots as a manga artist are clearly visible in this female followup to his brilliant cult classic GONIN. Five alienated women come together by accident when a jewelry store is robbed by renegade yakuza, the same inhuman monsters who gang-raped swordmaker Ken Ogata's wife, causing her suicide. The gals join Ogata in storming the gang stronghold (the nightclub "Birds" from the original GONIN) -- and the last half of this subversively dark piece of mayhem sees the bunch in spectacularly pitched battle against the unstoppable villains. With Kimiko Yo, Mai Kitajima, Yumi Takigawa.

BLACK ANGEL, VOL. 1, 1997, Shochiku, 106 min. Dir. Takashi Ishii. This contemporary noir vendetta saga follows Riona Hazuki (PARASITE EVE) as the grown-up daughter of a murdered yakuza boss, looking for the assassins who killed her father. After several bloody skirmishes, she encounters her childhood rescuer, fabled hitwoman Black Angel (Reiko Takashima, Japan’s reigning female yakuza film icon) now a pathetic alcoholic who inadvertently hands her over to the evil gang. Black Angel's conscience re-awakened, she moves heaven and earth to rescue Hazuki and redeem her own lost self-esteem. With Jinpachi Nezu.

 

Saturday, October 13 – 5:00 PM

Rare "Beat" Takeshi Double Feature!!

KIDS RETURN, 1996, Celluloid Dreams/Kitano Productions, 108 min. One of maverick director Takeshi Kitano's most personal and rarely seen films finds two outcast high-schoolers, Masaru (Ken Kaneko) and Shinji (Masanobu Ando), getting expelled after one practical joke too many. Their inability to function within normal society leads them alternately towards recruitment in the yakuza, then the world of boxing. The film's deadpan tone is sometimes achingly funny, sometimes bleak and wistful, but Kitano remains unfailingly true to his vision of what it's like growing up in a world where most people believe you're a good-for-nothing ...!

SCENE AT THE SEA (ANO NATSU, ICHIBAN SHIZUKANA UMI) 1991, Celluloid Dreams/Kitano Productions, 101 min. Another of Takeshi Kitano's more offbeat pictures, SCENE AT THE SEA follows the adventures of a deaf mute teenager working as a garbage man who decides to pursue his ambition of becoming an accomplished surfer. His similarly handicapped girlfriend is the only one to stick by him, and together the two embark on a hauntingly poetic odyssey in search of not just the perfect wave but the transcendence achieved in following an impossible dream.

 

Saturday, October 13 – 9:15 PM

Japanese Horror Double Feature!!

ANOTHER HEAVEN 2000, Omega/Shochiku, 130 min. Dir. Joji Iida. Tough-as-nails police detective Yoshio Harada (HUNTER IN THE DARK) and his assistant (Yosuke Eguchi) are baffled by a series of gory murders until they realize a virus-like demon is traveling from host-to-host via the victims’ blood and tears. While the film’s premise is similar to the Scandinavian thriller POSSESSED and the American FALLEN, ANOTHER HEAVEN surpasses both of them in pure shivers, going straight for the jugular in the thrills department. With Minako Ichikawa

KICHIKU (KICHIKU DAI ENKAI), 1997, Pia Film Festival, 100 min. Dir. Kazuyoshi Kumakiri. An unbelievably perverse take on a radical underground group disintegrating into complete psychosis, KICHIKU resembles what ECTASY OF THE ANGELS might look like if Koji Wakamatsu had decided to collaborate with the late Lucio Fulci! The deceptively bloodless first half, with a jailed fanatic's ultra-paranoid girlfriend becoming leader of their revolutionary cell, suddenly switches gears midway as she goes WAY off the deep end and mass slaughter ala TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE begins. Warning: KICHIKU contains scenes of extreme violence. No one under 17 will be admitted.

 

Sunday, October 14 – 5:00 PM

THE FIRE WITHIN (ONI BI) 1996, GaGa Communications/Tohokushinsha, 101 min. Dir. Rokuro Mochizuki. Shambling zen killer Yoshio Harada returns from prison, renews his friendship with younger yakuza Sho Aikawa, but desires a decidedly lower profile than in his tough-guy youth. However, his past comes back to haunt him when he falls for a female nightclub pianist, who asks him to kill someone for her. Director Mochizuki spins a wistful tale of loneliness and lost oppurtunities, only to have tidal waves of mayhem suddenly erupt out of nowhere. With Reiko Kataoka.

 

Sunday, October 14 - 7:15 PM

Japanese Avant-Garde CyberPunk!!

CRAZY THUNDER ROAD, 1980, BeWiz/Sogo Ishii, 95 min. This is director Sogo Ishii's (ANGEL DUST) debut feature, one of the explosive do-it-yourself indie films that brought avant-garde sensibilities into the 1980’s/1990’s Japanese mainstream and paved the way for a rebellion that made films like Tsukamoto's TETSUO: IRON MAN possible. Shot on a shoe-string, astonishing and visually audacious, this is the biker film to end all biker films, about a lone youth challenging a gang of fascist outlaws who've murdered his best friend.