May 30, 2006


Director Imamura Shohei died age 79Ryuganji puts it succinctly and simply:

"Director Imamura Shohei (79) died today at 3:49pm of a metastatic liver tumor." 

There are no details at this point. Shohei Imamura was one of Japan's most acclaimed directors in the second half of the 20th Century and some of his classics include DR. AKAGI, VENGEANCE IS MINE, A HISTORY OF POSTWAR JAPAN AS TOLD BY A BAR HOSTESS, and PIGS AND BATTLESHIPS.

I've seen several of his films and while I admire all of them they can be awfully hard to like. However, two of his early movies, STOLEN DESIRE and ENDLESS DESIRE are two of my favorite Japanese movies of all time. Made in the first year he started directing, before he became an extreme experimentalist, both movies hail from 1958. ENDLESS DESIRE is a sprawling, pre-Robert Altman movie about a theater troupe descending on a small town, kicking up complications, and then packing up and taking off. It's funny, sad and really something special.

Director Imamura Shohei died age 79STOLEN DESIRE is a pitch-perfect film noir about a gang of thieves who return to a formerly bombed out neighborhood to retrieve their buried stash of illegal morphine. But a pharmacy has been built on the burial site and they wind up renting the house across the street and tunneling into the pharmacy basement to steal back their money. Very, very dark but very funny.

I may have the two titles reveresed (which is STOLEN? which is ENDLESS?) but if you ever have a chance to see either movie, please check them out. You won't be sorry. And if you are, you know where to find me.

May 30, 2006 at 09:55 AM in News | Permalink


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What did you find hard to like about his films, other than these 2?

until imamura, hardly any major japanese director used frank, gritty sexual dysfunction and "animal-like" behavior w/o exploitation, genre, romanticism -- but as "anthropology" to provoke viewers about what "japanese identity" is.

although cannes lauded his later works (both EEL and BALLAD OF NARAYAMA are stylistically refined self-repetitions), his confrontational works in the 60s are his most unique legacy. of these we can count the mentorship of "renegade" directors like kazuhiko hasegawa (THE MAN WHO STOLE THE SUN), and everyone's enfant terrible takashi miike.

i was truly inspired by the female leads in his INSECT WOMAN '63 and INTENTIONS OF MURDER '64: plumbing the highs and lows and self-empowerment and squalor/despair way before cassavettes's girls on the go.

imamura set up a personal website back in '97-8 too, complete with his email address inviting anyone to write.

Posted by: ed | May 30, 2006 5:11:46 PM

I own The Pornographers and I love that film, but is there any more of his movies available on DVD?

Posted by: Michael | May 31, 2006 10:29:09 AM


If you're able to watch PAL DVDs, by all means get your hands on a copy of Eureka's R2 PAL edition of "Vengeance is Mine". Definitely one of the best DVDs of last year. You can get it dead cheap from Bensons world here: http://www.bensonsworld.co.uk/search/findproduct.asp?stype=dvdtitle&search;=vengeance+is+mine&x;=0&y;=0

Posted by: Don | May 31, 2006 5:18:10 PM

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