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Takuma

Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Japan (+ Sonny Chiba festival!) - Some Content NSFW

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I thought this might be of interest to some. I’ll try to introduce some of the most interesting cinemas in Tokyo, especially those places where you might be able to catch a Sonny Chiba film or a pinky violence movie on 35mm, post pictures, and give recommendations what cinemas to visit if you’re ever planning a trip to Tokyo.

 

Classics and Genre Films

Laputa Asagaya (JP movie retros only, late show often with genre flicks. All 35 mm or 16 mm. The best cinema in Tokyo!!!!)

Cinema Vera (various retros from pinky violence to silent films. 35mm)

National Film Center (retrospectives on classics, 35mm)

Jinbocho (retros from Ozu to Godzilla and Seijun Suzuki. 35mm)

Shin bungeiza (from new films to old genre films. Usually 35mm. All nighters often feature BD screenings, beware!!!)

Art Center (classics, 35mm).

Porepore (indie, arthouse, some times old films on 35mm)

Kineka Omori (otherwise mainstream, but interesting weekly double features, e.g Tsukamoto flicks on 35mm)

Okura (plays 35mm prints of older films from time to time)

Cine Roman (pink theater, sometimes roman porno included)

 

Indie, Arthouse, New Genre Films, Occasional Classics

Eurospace (arthouse, occasionally genre films. Roman Porno retros played here in 2012! JP + foreign)

K's Cinema (new arthouse films)

Uplink Factory (indie, arthouse, docs)

Image forum

Human Trust Shibuya (new films, inc. genre films)

 

Mainstream Cinemas That Sometimes Have Genre, Indie or Classic Films

Cinema Rosa

Kamata (usually latest hits, occasionally old films on 35mm, like Red Peony Gambler)

Cinema Avenue

Waseda Shochiku

Humax

Shinjuku musashino

Ginrei Hall

Shinjuku Cinemart

Roppongi Cinemart

Qualite

 

R.I.P

Theater N
Ginza Cine Pathos
Shinjuku Milano
Auditorium Shibuya (indie)    
Baus Theater
Cinema Rise    
Shinbashi bunka (mainstream + pink cinema. See Roman Gekijo section. Roman Porno's frequently. All 35 mm)

 

For an excellent resource on cinemas in Tokyo area that show non-mainstream films and old movies, see this great Japanese website.

Edited by Takuma

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Theater Introduction

Laputa Asagaya

I must start with Laputa Asagaya which is absolutely my favourite place on earth (after a good love hotel, that is). If you want to see 1960’s Nikkatsu action films or 1970’s Japanese karate flicks or yakuza mayhem on 35 mm, this wonderful small retro theatre is your choice!

Laputa is located in Asagaya in a small district filled with tiny old roads (no heavy traffic) full of neon lights, small restaurants and bars. Just walking these streets is like time leap back to the good old Japan!

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The theatre itself is a cosy two storey building. The first floor facilitates the ticket desk, a waiting area, and a small theatre café. Lots of movie related books, such as books on Koji Wakamatsu or Toei yakuza films, are offered for reading while waiting. The CD player in the back is always playing movie soundtracks from films that are currently screening, so depending on the time you’ll be welcomed by the voice of Meiko Kaji, Yujiro Ishihara, Yoko Minamino and so on. The walls are decorated with newspaper articles from the currently screening films, and movie posters.

The screening room is in the second floor, which you access via outdoor wooden stairs. Only 48 seats in there. All films screen from 35mm (or in rare cases 16mm) film. Program consists entirely of retrospectives on Japanese films, with 75% of the program being 1960’s and 1970’s film, and the remaining 25% covering the 1980’s and pre-1960’s cinema. The program is divided into three different retrospectives:

Morning Show (at 10 am)

Mostly golden age comedies and dramas, usually starring a popular 1950’s or 1960’s actress like Ruriko Asaoka. Examples of retrospectives include:

- The Drama Films of Ishiro Honda

- Junko Fuji Retrospective (Red Peony Gambler etc.)

- Ruriko Asaoka retrospective (Nikkatsu's biggest femake star of the 1960s)

Day and Evening Screenings

Massive retrospectives with 3 or 4 screenings per day. The focus is usually a studio, a genre, a producer, or a prolific screenwriter. Examples of retrospectives include:

- Ninja Movie Retrospective (1960's and 1970's ninja movies)

- Rare Nikkatsu Films (action, yakuza, comedy and drama films never released on video or DVD)

- Art Theater Guild (rare films such as Sadao Nakajima’s yakuza film Aesthetics of a Bullet)

- Screenwriter Koji Takada (anything from The Defensive Power of Aikido to Bounty Hunter 2)

- The World of Old School Special Effects (Sci-fi, horror, and other special effects movies from late 1940s to 1970's)

Late Screening (at 9 pm)

For genre film fans this is a dream come true. Karate, yakuza, pinkuy violence and other genre movie retrospectives featuring films by Toei, Nikkatsu, Daiei, and other studios. Examples of retrospectives include:

- Etsuko Shihomi retro (all her 1970’s karate films, including 13 Steps of Maki)

- Terrifying Girls’ High School (the entire film series)

- Female Prisoner Movies (from Toei pinky violence to Nikkatsu pink and Daiei exploitation)

- Prison Escape Movies (including Sonny Chiba’s Dasso yugi)

- Yuji Makiguchi Films (the film's of Toei's notorious exploitation director, including the cannibal nun-film Torn Priestess)

- Meika Seri films (Nikkatsu pink starlet’s best films)

- Bad Girl Retrospective (Nikkatsu, Daiei, Toei girl gang films like Nad Girl Mako, Bankaku Rock and Delinquent Girl Boss)

- Toei Jitsuroku Anarchy & Violence (1970's Toei yakuza films like Graveyard of Honor)

- Professional Killer Retrospective (60's and 70's films about assassins)

- Sukeban Retrospective (all 7 of Toei's Sukeban Girl Boss films)

- 1970's Biker Retro (Toei biker gang movies like Explosion: Violent Riders, an Wild Sex Gang)

Theater Access:

Take JR Chuo Local (not rapid!) line from Shinjuku Station to Takao/Hachioji/Nakano direction and get off at Asagaya Station. It only takes about 10 minutes. Use the north exit. Laputa is about 150m from the station. Map.

Note: On the way to Asagaya you can stop in Nakano for some DVD and movie poster shopping. Right next to the station there’s a big shopping mall called Nakano Broadway. There’s a very good used DVD shop called Recommints, which focuses in genre films, and a movie poster shop which sells original posters for Sonny Chiba films and other genre stuff.

Etsuko Shihomi Retrospective! Poster for 13 Steps of Maki (1975)

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Art Theater Guild Retro. Eros + Massacre poster

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Art Theater Guild Retro. Preparation for the Festival (1975) poster

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Aru koroshiya no kagi (1967) and Kenjū mushuku datsugoku no blues (1965)

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Female Prisoner retro. Material from Daiei's Woman's Prison series

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Anyone who loves seeing movies from 35 mm film prints is in for an epic treat in Tokyo in May (2014). As a result of an unbelievable amount of coincidences, there’s an incredible set of Japanese classics and cult films screening in different theatres around the same time. Most of them play in large retrospectives, so you if you stay for longer time you could catch tons of movies.

However, even if you were like me and could only drop by for one extended weekend, you’ve still got more Japanese 40 classics to choose from in a dozen theaters. May 15th – May 18 (Friday-Sunday) especially is good time. I’ve listed below only what’s playing during that time. I've reserved my flight already...

Laputa (Day Show): Screenwriter Koji Tanada Retrospective

The Defensive Power of Aikido (Shigero Ozawa, 1975) (35mm)

Silk Hat Boss (Norifumi Suzuki, 1970) (35mm)

Ikasama bakuchi (Shigero Ozawa, 1968) (35mm)

Shimaizaka (Nobuhiko Obayashi, 1985) (35mm)

Onimasa (Hideo Gosha, 1982) (35mm)

Otoko no shobu: niou no irezumi (Norifumi Suzuki, 1967) (35mm)

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Laputa (Morning Show): Ishiro Honda Drama Retrospective

People of Tokyo, Goodbye (Ishiro Honda, 1956) (35mm)

An Echo Calls You (Ishiro Honda, 1959) (35mm)

Laputa (Late Show): Meika Seri Retrospective

Wet Lust: 21 Strippers (Tatsumi Kumashiro, 1974) (35mm)

Man and Woman Behind the Fusuma Screen: Enduring Skin (Tatsumi Kumashiro, 1974) (35mm)

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Pole Pole: Special Screening

Woods are Wet: Woman Hell (Tatsumi Kumashiro, 1973) (35mm)

The Embryo Hunts in Secret (Koji Wakamatsu, 1966) (35mm) (Guest: Masao Adachi)

Kineka Omori (Normal Distribution)

No. 10 Blues – Goodbye Saigon (1975) (format unknown)

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Cinema Vera: Director Yoshitaro Nomura Retrospective

Tokyo Bay (Yoshitaro Nomura, 1962) (35mm)

Hakuchû dodo (Yoshitaro Nomura, 1968) (35mm)

Cinema Vera: Actor Shin Kishida Retrospective

Utamaro’s World (Akio Jissoji, 1977) (35mm)

Demon Spies (Takashi Tsuboshima, 1974) (35mm)

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Theater Shinjuku: Pia Film Festival Presents

Japanese 8mm 16mm Films from 1970′s & 1980′s (format unknown)

Cine Qualite: Karikore 2014

- Horrors of Malformed Men (Teruo Ishii, 1969) (35mm)

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National Film Center: The Birth and Development of Japanese Color Film

Yuhi to kenju (Kiyoshi Saeki, 1956) (35mm)

Hokkaido no hanran (Kunio Watanabe, 1956) (35mm)

Bridge of Japan (Kon Ichikawa, 1956) (35mm)

The Taira Clan (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1955) (35mm)

Hadashi no seishun (Senkichi Taniguchi, 1956) (35mm)

River of the Night (Kôzaburô Yoshimura, 1956) (35mm)

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Meguro Cinema: Shunji Iwai Series

Love Letter (Shunji Iwai, 1995) (35mm)

Swallowtail Butterfly (Shunji Iwai, 1996) (35mm)

All About Lily Chou Chou (Shunji Iwai, 2001) (35mm)

Hana and Alice (Shunji Iwai, 2004) (35mm)

Shin Bungeiza: Yuzo Kawashima retrospective

Ojosan shacho (Yuzo Kawashima, 1953) (35mm)

Burden of Love (Yuzo Kawashima, 1955) (35mm)

Suzaki Paradise Red Light (Yuzo Kawashima, 1956) (35mm)

Noren (Yuzo Kawashima, 1958) (35mm)

Onna wa nido umareru (Yuzo Kawashima, 1961) (35mm)

The Graceful Brute (Yuzo Kawashima, 1962) (35mm)

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Jinbocho: Screen Beauties Retrospective

Mukashi no uta (Tamizo Ishida, 1939) (35mm)

Sincerity (Mikio Naruse, 1939) (35mm)

Hideko, the Bus Conductor (Mikio Naruse, 1941) (35mm)

A Broken Drum (Keinosuke Kinoshita, 1949) (35mm)

Till We Meet Again(Tadashi Imai, 1950) (35mm)

Aijo (Kiyoshi Horiike, 1956) (35mm)

Garasu no naka no shôjo (Mitsuo Wakasugi, 1960) (35mm)

Tears on the Lion’s Mane (Masahiro Shinoda, 1962) (35mm)

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Of course, there’s dozens of more films playing in the same retrospectives before and after, like many Kinji Fukasaku yakuza films, more roman pornos, more Ishiro Honda films, Nobuhiko Obayashi’s House, many Sogo Ishii films, or this Keizo Kanie set that closes on May 15th.

Shimbashi Bunka: Keizo Kanie Memorial Screenings

- Tattoeed Flower Vase (Masaru Konuma, 1976) (35mm)

- Rape (Yasuraru Hasebe, 1976) (35mm)

- Angel Guts: Red Classroom (Chusei Sone, 1979) (35mm)

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Oh man, Cinema Vera is going to have Sonny Chiba Festival in June. I think I'll need to book another flight :tongue:

No program announced yet, but it will include the super rare SFX / earthquake movie Tokyo Daijishin Magnitude 8.1 (1980)

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I REALLY REALLY wish I could of seen this thread 6 months ago as I was in Tokyo, would of loved to have tried to get out and find some of these places, thanks for the thread Takuma, I hope to get back soon I'll definitely seek some of these places out, do you know of any in Osaka?

Truthfully I loved Osaka over Tokyo, and made some awesome friends there, if I go back to Tokyo I want to get down to Kamakura, as I heard there's more of a beachy laid back scene around that area, which is more my speed.

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I REALLY REALLY wish I could of seen this thread 6 months ago as I was in Tokyo, would of loved to have tried to get out and find some of these places, thanks for the thread Takuma, I hope to get back soon I'll definitely seek some of these places out, do you know of any in Osaka?

Truthfully I loved Osaka over Tokyo, and made some awesome friends there, if I go back to Tokyo I want to get down to Kamakura, as I heard there's more of a beachy laid back scene around that area, which is more my speed.

I don't know Osaka and Kyoto very well but here's a few:

Osaka

Nanagei

Cine Nouveau

Theater Seven

Planet +1

Theater Umeda

Kyoto

The Museum of Kyoto Film Theater

Kyoto minami kaikain

Kyoto Cinema

There must be many more interesting theaters but unfortunately I don't know about them...

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Well, that was awesome four days in Tokyo!

Tokyo Day 1: Friday

I swear I’ll never take such an early flight again! I was so tired I fell asleep about five times during Akio Jissoji’s Utamaro’s World (1977). At least I woke up quick as each time the same scene was still playing. The film is an enjoyable period drama with some action, plenty of sex, moody atmosphere and very stylish cinematography. The theatre warned about poor print condition, but that was typical Japanese over-cautious statement: it was a beautiful print with some dirt here and there.

The film played in Cinema Vera, which is a nice film archive –like theatre playing double features. Utamaro’s World played in actor Shin Kishida retrospective. The second film was the awesome smutty ninja exploitationer Demon Spies (1974), also available on R1 DVD by Animeigo. The film is probably a bit underrated because the DVD came out after the amazing Lone Wolf and Cub films, which set the comparison too high. Demon Spies is, however, quite a fantastic mix of ninja spies, ultra-violent bloodshed, sex, nudity, and excellent action choreography. It was real treat seeing this on pristine 35 mm print.

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After a bit of rest and some good ramen I headed to my favourite theatre Laputa Asagaya for the evening screening. They were playing Meika Seri retrospective, and this week’s film was Tatsumi Kumashiro’s roman porno Wet Lust: 21 Strippers (1974). The film features some terrific cinematography and typically excellent (for Kumashiro) soundtrack, including the theme song from Delinquent Girl Boss and a few characters singing and whistling Meiko Kaji’s Urami Bushi (from Female Prisoner Scorpion). Very realistic drama with lots of exotic striptease by real performers, but towards the end there are too many dull sex scenes and the audio-visual treat is sort of toned down. Still quite a good film.

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Tokyo Day 2: Saturday

The day begun in Meguro Cinema with a Shunji Iwai double feature. The theatre is playing Swallowtail Butterfly and All About Lily Chou Chou back to back all day, so I jump in from the second screening. Great atmosphere; the theatre is packed to the last seat (despite this double feature playing 3 times a day for seven days). Between films they’re playing Swallowtail Butterfly and All About Lily Chou Chou soundtracks. As a nice little touch, the staff rings bells when a screening is about to begin.

Swallowtail Butterfly has always been one of my favourite movies. Despite some clumsy acting and Chara not getting her accent right in any language, it’s just such an amazing, amazing film that you never get tired of. It’s a wonderful coming of age take with awesome characters (personal favourite: Mickey Curtis as slum doctor tattoo artist), spoken mostly in English (also Chinese and Japanese), and featuring drama, “live” music, yakuza, bazookas, even horror elements!

And even then, All About Lily Chou Chou is an even more impressive film. I’ve seen it at least 6 times and I was nearly crying in the theatre just because of how great a movie can be. Arguably the most breathtaking cinematography of the decade (by Noboru Shinoda), great soundtrack, and a well constructed storyline which remains challenging on repeated viewings due to broken chronology and “anonymous” chat conversations. Yu Aoi is just great, too, and Hayoto Ichihara isn’t as wooden an actor as he’d become in a few years. There’s no better film about Japanese youth.

No doubt, these two are both among the best movies ever made. On the negative side, worn-out yellowish 35mm print on Lily Chou Chou wasn’t quite what I was hoping for, but the film still blew my mind.

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After 5 hours of Iwai I figured out just one more movie would probably be enough for the night. The last film would be Teruo Ishii’s excellent cult classic Horrors of Malformed Men (1969), which had a special screening in Cine Qualite. This has remained a rarity in Japan since its 1969 self-imposed “ban” by Toei who drew it from distribution soon after its release. It has never been released on video or DVD in Japan due it its “political incorrectness”. However, the film does play in special screenings and retrospectives every now and then, so it’s not impossible to catch on screen in Japan. The talk event after the film went on a bit longer than I expected, so I had no time to watch more films that night, which was perhaps a good thing.

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Then the bad news: my fucking capsule hotel was full; I had to find another one, and that was a piece of shit with pillows made of stone and even the AV channel didn’t work. Ugh! Not the most comfortable night, though you can’t beat the price: $25 for a night in central Tokyo (Ueno) is quite good.

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Tokyo Day 3: Sunday

Sunday started in Laputa with Ikasama bakuchi, which played in the massive screenwriter Koji Takada retrospective. Laputa only has about 48 seats, so I knew when I’d be among the last people to choose the seat when I got ticket number 31. In the end, the screening turned out so full they carried extra seats for people. I was by far the youngest person in the theatre, sitting between two 70 year old guys, one of them mumbling to himself throughout the film…

Ikasama bakuchi (1968) is the 6th instalment in Toei’s popular Gambler series, which fall into the ninkyo yakuza (or old school yakuza) film genre. These films are all about honour, duty and friendship between men. Ikasama bakuchi doesn’t reinvent its enjoyable genre conventions, but rather mixes them with small changes. This time Koji Tsuruta, one of Toei’s three great yakuza stars of the era, plays a gambler who indirectly causes the death of another man in the hands his enemy. Feeling responsibility he then tries to win back the money the dead man (and his family) owned. Confronting him on the gambling floor is Tomisaburo Wakayama as a master card dealer and swindler working for a rotten yakuza gang. Intense gambling matches and a classy formula played by charismatic actors – a very enjoyable genre film.

Poster for Ikasama bakuchi (on the left)

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Since I was not in a hurry, I stayed little while in the theatre to enjoy the atmosphere and take some more photos. The CD player in the downstairs was playing soundtracks from Battles without Honour and Humanity, Hokuriku Proxy War, and Graveyard of Honour, all of which were screening in the Koji Takada retrospective. There was also a new film in the Meika Seri retro stating from that day: Man and Woman Behind the Fusuma Screen: Enduring Skin (1974) by Tatsumi Kumashiro.

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Man and Woman Behind the Fusuma Screen: Enduring Skin

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Hokuriku Proxy War (photo from Friday night, actually)

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Bookshelf with something to read (photo from Friday night, actually)

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And outside the theater: a big billboard for the Koji Takada retrospective

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My next film is Koji Wakamatsu’s vicious torture classic The Embryo Hunts in Secret (1966) in a theatre called Pole Pole. Scripted by Masao Adachi and then filmed by Wakamatsu in just a few days it’s an odd movie consisting mostly of a troubled man (haunted by family problems) beating a woman he has kidnapped. It is very describing that the film still got rated 18 (16 after appeal) in France less than 10 years ago, when films like Rambo and Only God Forgives were passed with a 12 rating. In any case, the movie does have something to it.

The real highlight followed the film when none other than Masao Adachi walked on the stage. Adachi was Wakamatsu’s active collaborator in the 1960. In the early 70’s the duo filmed the propaganda film Red Army/PFLP: Declaration of World War (1971) in Palestine. While Wakamatsu returned to Japan, Adachi joined the battle in Palestine and stayed in the country for decades. He was considered somewhat a terrorist in both Palestine and Japan, and spent time in prison in both countries. He’s been a free man since 2003, though, and seemed very much energetic today. Adachi was joking how feminists hated The Embryo Hunts in Secret back in the 60’s because it shows an asshole man beating a woman, but then later feminists begun to like his work because it displayed the man beating a woman as an asshole (+ the ending had something to do with it). Go figure...

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Adachi’s talk went on longer than I expected (and the train was 5 min late, which is forever in Japan), so I was in a real hurry to the day’s most important screening, The Defensive Power of Aikido in Laputa. I could still make it on time, but the very convenient number 5 ticket I got earlier the same day was utterly useless because I was the last one to arrive there. Oddly enough, I ended up on the same seat where I was sitting 6 hours ago in Ikasama bakuchi, and again on my right side there’s some weir dude who’s having way too much fun watching a “silly old movie”. Something wrong with that seat, I’m not gonna go close to it again…

The guy next to me didn’t manage to distract me much, because Sonny Chiba kicked ass!!! The Defensive Power of Aikido (1975) has some of Chiba’s best fights, though he plays a (little bit villainous) supporting role. The real star is his bother Jiro Chiba, who portrays Aikido founder Moriehei Ueshiba in a VERY loose adaptation of his life. Great action, cool soundtrack by The Street Fighter composer Toshiaki Tsushima, and quite a good screenplay by Koji Takada. Oddly enough, there’s no sex or nudity whatsoever. A very enjoyable karate (uhm, aikido) film that is on par with Chiba’s similarly themed karate biopics The Killing Machine and Karate Bullfighter.

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Tokyo Day 4: Monday

One movie to catch in Kineka Omori before my flight back to the northern island. This is a nice mainstream theatre which often has interesting non-mainstream double features. Also, there’s a collection of posters for Studio Ghibli movies that played in the theatre since the 1980’s. The film I’m seeing is the excellent, recently discovered and completed 1975 Vietnam action Number 10 Blues: Goodbye Saigon, which I have already discussed in another thread:

- http://www.kungfucinema.com/forums/showthread.php?t=21647

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..............

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Vera2s.jpg...........

Takuma, do you know which Dracula/Vampire movie is this.

First poster in the first pic and next to Utamaro’s World in the 2nd pick.

I have the Bloodthirsty Trilogy (and a few others) but have yet to watch it.

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Takuma, do you know which Dracula/Vampire movie is this.

First poster in the first pic and next to Utamaro’s World in the 2nd pick.

I have the Bloodthirsty Trilogy (and a few others) but have yet to watch it.

The poster is Noroi no yakata: Chi o suu me (Lake of Dracula aka Bloodthirsty Eyes) (1971).

I'm not sure if the pictures are from the same movie. Evil of Dracula also screened in the retrospective, so could be that also.. I haven't seen any of them.

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Seems like some real cool events take place in Japan (especially Tokyo apparently) - all these classic screening sound great.

Some of the posters look very nice too - especially the Ghilbi ones and the Lake Of Dracula one.

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The poster is Noroi no yakata: Chi o suu me (Lake of Dracula aka Bloodthirsty Eyes) (1971).

I'm not sure if the pictures are from the same movie. Evil of Dracula also screened in the retrospective, so could be that also.. I haven't seen any of them.

Thanks Takuma.

I though the poster & pics did look familiar.

Shame to say that I have both movies but I have yet to watch either one.:neutral:

I think that the pictures are also from Lake of Dracula - wore same outfit w/scarf.

I will give them a viewing within the next few weeks when I have more time.

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Program has been announced for the Sonny Chiba retrospective. 24 films included.

- http://www.cinemavera.com/preview.php

Chiba himself will also attend during the first day. I'm already booking my flights!

Full Program

Funky Hat Detective (Kinji Fukasaku, 1961)

Niniroku Jiken Dasshutsu (Tsuneo Kobayashi, 1962)

Gambler Tales of Hasshu: A Man's Pledge (Masahiro Makino, 1963)

Abashiri Prison: Hokkai ken (Teruo Ishii, 1965)

Kamikaze Yaro (Kinji Fukasaku, 1966)

Samurai’s Lullaby (Masashige Narusawa, 1966)

Rikugun chôhô 33 (Tsuneo Kobayashi, 1968)

Memoir of Japanese Assassins (Sadao Nakajima, 1969)

Bodyguard Kiba (Tatsuichi Takamori, 1973)

The Street Fighter (Shigero Ozawa, 1974)

The Executioner 2: Karate Inferno (Teruo Ishii, 1974)

Wolfguy: Enraged Lycanthrope (Kazuhiko Yamaguchi, 1975)

Bullet Train (Junya Sato, 1975)

Karate Bullfighter (Kazuhiko Yamaguchi, 1975)

Karate Warriors (Kazuhiko Yamaguchi, 1976)

Dasso Yugi (Kosaku Yamashita, 1976)

Okinawa Yakuza War (Sadao Nakajima, 1976)

Karate for Life (Kazuhiko Yamaguchi, 1977)

Message From Space (Kinji Fukasaku, 1976)

Okinawa 10 Year War (Akinori Matsuo, 1978)

Swords of Vengeance (Kinji Fukasaku, 1978)

G.I. Samurai (Kôsei Saitô, 1979)

Samurai Reincarnation (Kinji Fukasaku, 1981)

Tokyo Daijishin Magnitude 8.1 (Kiyoshi Nishimura, 1980)

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Program has been announced for the Sonny Chiba retrospective. 24 films included.

- http://www.cinemavera.com/preview.php

Chiba himself will also attend during the first day. I'm already booking my flights!

Full Program

Funky Hat Detective (Kinji Fukasaku, 1961)

Niniroku Jiken Dasshutsu (Tsuneo Kobayashi, 1962)

Gambler Tales of Hasshu: A Man's Pledge (Masahiro Makino, 1963)

Abashiri Prison: Hokkai ken (Teruo Ishii, 1965)

Kamikaze Yaro (Kinji Fukasaku, 1966)

Samurai’s Lullaby (Masashige Narusawa, 1966)

Rikugun chôhô 33 (Tsuneo Kobayashi, 1968)

Memoir of Japanese Assassins (Sadao Nakajima, 1969)

Bodyguard Kiba (Tatsuichi Takamori, 1973)

The Street Fighter (Shigero Ozawa, 1974)

The Executioner 2: Karate Inferno (Teruo Ishii, 1974)

Wolfguy: Enraged Lycanthrope (Kazuhiko Yamaguchi, 1975)

Bullet Train (Junya Sato, 1975)

Karate Bullfighter (Kazuhiko Yamaguchi, 1975)

Karate Warriors (Kazuhiko Yamaguchi, 1976)

Dasso Yugi (Kosaku Yamashita, 1976)

Okinawa Yakuza War (Sadao Nakajima, 1976)

Karate for Life (Kazuhiko Yamaguchi, 1977)

Message From Space (Kinji Fukasaku, 1976)

Okinawa 10 Year War (Akinori Matsuo, 1978)

Swords of Vengeance (Kinji Fukasaku, 1978)

G.I. Samurai (Kôsei Saitô, 1979)

Samurai Reincarnation (Kinji Fukasaku, 1981)

Tokyo Daijishin Magnitude 8.1 (Kiyoshi Nishimura, 1980)

Wish I could have been there - I would love to see some of these on the big screen especially the later dated ones (saw some of the early 70's ones on the big screen).

I met Sonny Chiba back in the late 90's when he came to NYC - it was at the Manhattan Mall / A & S Plaza (Suncoast video), I know that some of the members here remember that time.

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Just a sidenote: Sonny Chiba fest was pretty damn amazing. Working on a fest coverage but takes time cause I watched no less than 20 films.

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Theater Memorial: Shimbashi Bunka

You may have read this elsewhere already... the great Shimbashi Bunka is closing after 55 years in operation.

http://www.tokyoreporter.com/2014/07/07/jr-construction-forcing-shimbashi-pink-theater-to-shut-in-august/

This is really sad. Shimbashi Bunka was by far the best place in Tokyo to catch roman pornos on 35mm. Once or twice a month their weekly program consisted of a roman porno triple feature. I was always going to write an introduction to this theater, but now it turned into a memorial.

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I still remember when I first read about this theater last year and thought this must be to coolest place on earth. Let me quote someone:

"To gain admittance you first must visit a vending machine that sits unceremoniously in front of the theater. By purchasing your 1,100 yen ticket you can stay as long as you wish through a triple bill ... After you’ve purchased your ticket from the vending machine you ironically have to hand it over to the guy working at the ticket window. After he wishes you a merry wanking, the real adventure begins.

Walking into the 81-seat theater is like walking into the movie room your middle school might have had. It’s tiny, but extremely comfortable, aside from the fact that there are around ten to fifteen old men staring at a screen with a women being taken from behind on it. The 35mm film is being projected so close behind your head that you can almost feel the heat from the bright light bulb inside of it.

The sound system, which has not only the marching sounds of the 35mm projector to compete with, but also the frequent trains running over head, which literally rock your seat, is passable to say the least, with the right side speaker dominating the left, turning the room a weird aural experiment that will likely leave you a bit dizzy.

The bathroom is mockingly positioned to the immediate right of the large screen, meaning that if you want to get up to play with your bits and pieces everyone is going to see you making a run for it. Thankfully the old men are beyond such embarrassments, as they willing hobble towards the bathroom, cane in hand, with the utmost dignity, only to stumble out four minutes later looking a tad defeated."

- http://everything2.com/title/Shimbashi+Roman+Gekijo

I had my first visit to Shimbashi Bunka just before Christmas last year. That time they were playing a triple feature consisting of:

- Trap of Lust (Atsushi Amatoya, 1973)

- Love Doll Report: An Adult Toy (Chusei Sone, 1975)

- Assault! Jack the Ripper (Yasuharu Hasebe, 1976)

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As expected, Shimbashi Bunka was worth every yen. In addition to what was mentioned before, I got to witness:

- An old man whose hand started making suspicious movement during the first and second sex scene in Trap of Lust. I dared not take a closer look.

- The same man leaving the theatre and mumbling something, obviously irritated, after the film turned out to be a Seijun Suzuki style killer/spy metafilm instead of a real pink flick.

- Audience members falling asleep after the forementioned twist.

- An audience with average age around 55 - and not a single woman...

- Until one female entered the theatre for the second screening...

- The forementioned poor lady falling asleep with her hand in facepalm (true story) during Assault! Jack the Ripper.

- An elderly man leaving for bathroom during the film, and leaving his bag on the seat next to him. Another old man entered meanwhile, took his place and put his bag on the same seat where the other guys bag is. The bathroom guy came back, looking confused after someone had taken his place, and then sat elsewhere. 25 minutes later the men started arguing (during the film) about whose bag belongs to who – both had placed their bags on the same seat without realizing it, and I think the first guy thought the other man is trying to steal his bag.

All this with one 1300 yen film ticket (that gives you entrance to the theatre – you can stay as long as you want). And of course, seeing these films on 35mm was a joy in itself!

I later visited the theater again when they were screening a Yuya Uchida Triple Feature including

- Female Delinquent: A Docudrama (1977)

- Path of the Beast (1980)

- Oh Women! A Dirty Song (1981)

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And here's a look inside the theater. Notice the bathroom placed right next to the screen on the left side

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Some guy drew an awesome tribute picture of the theater. Every detail is correct, including the ghost in the audience :biggrin:

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- https://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Ftwitter.com%2FPeronnyo%2Fstatus%2F490143900292509696%2Fphoto%2F1&h=5AQGYHLqp

As you can see, the theater was dedicated to quality. Their Roman Porno screenings featured great movies by directors such as Yasuharu Hasebe, Tatsumi Kumashiro, Chusei Sone, Noboru Tanaka and Kichitaro Negishi, rather than mediocre sex flix. But it wasn't only a pink theater. The theater had two sides: the mainstream side and pink side (called Roman Gekiji - The Roman Theater). The mainstream theater played older foreign films in double features, with anything from Italian Spaghetti Westerns to Charles Chaplin and, uhm, Dreamcatcher. The ticket booth was located in the middle (with windows to both sides), with one schizophrenic employee serving customers on both sides.

If you look carefully, you can see the ticket booth window in the middle behind the green plant

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That week their mainstream program was a revenge double feature: Sympathy for Lady Vengeance and Kill Bill Vol. 2

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Here's an earlier double feature

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The last screenings will be on August 31st. If you want to experience one of the last real pink theaters in Tokyo, I suggest you reserve your tickets now. The program for the final three days has been announced:

Friday 29th: Love Triple Feature

Love Hunter (1972)

Lovers are Wet (1973)

Wandering Lovers: Dizziness (1978)

Saturday 30th: Rape Triple Feature

Secret Honeymoon: Rape Train (1977)

Rape and Death of a Housewife (1978)

Rape Ceremony (1980)

Sunday 31st: Secret Triple Feature

Secret Chronicle: She Beast Market (1972)

Secret Chronicle: Prostitute Hell (1973)

Secret Chronicle: Prostitute Market (1974)

Mainstream program has not been announced yet.

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Last Hurrah for Shimbashi Bunka

The last two days in Shimbashi Bunka (mainstream side) and Roman Gekigo (pink side) were just amazing! So many people showed up!

The 81 seat Roman Gekijo played at heavy over-capacity, with up to 30 people standing! There were 8 seats reserved for ladies, but I counted 17 women in some of the Sunday screenings, so most of them were sitting on the danger zone! Actually, these last few days the audience profile was relatively normal with only a few creepy old men in the theatre, so rather safe for ladies!

Mainstream side was just as popular. Again more than 20 people standing in Taxi Driver on Saturday and long lines of people queuing on the street! In Death Proof the audience was having a blast and even applauded twice at the end of the film (extremely rare among Japanese audiences!).

As usual, the theatre interiors were decorated with movie posters… First Blood, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Phenomenon, Game of Death, etc. on the mainstream side, and Secret Honeymoon: Rape Train etc on the pink side.

Tokyo is literally losing a part of its culture with this theatre taken down.

Outside the pink theater

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Secret Honeymoon: Rape Train (1977), Rape and Death of a Housewife (1978), Rape Ceremony (1980)

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Love Hunter (1972), Lovers are Wet (1973), Wandering Lovers: Dizziness (1978)

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Secret Chronicle: Prostitute Market (1972), Secret Chronicle: Prostitute Hell (1973), Secret Chronicle: She Beast Market (1974)

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Inside the pink theater. White seats are lady seats

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Outside the mainstream theater

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Outside the mainstream theater

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Taxi Driver and Death Proof

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Inside the mainstream theater

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Inside the mainstream theater

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Inside the mainstream theater

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Inside the mainstream theater

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Theater Introduction

Jinbocho Theater (part 1)

This is a nice, modern looking theater that shows only Japanese cinema retrospectives. They focus on the classier stuff, so it may not be the first choice for a genre film buff. They are more likely to screen a Kenji Mizoguchi series, or retrospectives dedicated to some other classic directors, actors or composers from the 1940s to 1960s.

However, more recent films, and genre films, do often find their way into the program as parts of the retrospectives. For example, while the Yuzo Kayama retro focused on his comedies, dramas and music films from the 1950s and 1960s, it also included the hard boiled professional killer film The Creature Called Man (1970) which was probably a big influence for John Woo. Similarly, while their Eros series focused on the classier stuff from the early 1960s, it also included three Roman Pornos and one 1990’s Takashi Ishii thriller. They also screened a complete Godzilla retrospective.

Jinbocho only screens one retrospective at a time. Usually there are 4 films playing each day, and they will be played in different order each day for about one week, so the film that screened at 15:00 today might screen at 19:00 the day after tomorrow. Unfortunately there tends to be a rather long break, e.g. 40 min, between the films.

The lobby is no great thrills, but they put up some original posters of the film that are playing, a fun little box with movie memorabilia, and a theme wall with information and stills from the ongoing retrospective.

As typical to theatres of this kind, tickets are numbered in the order or purchase. You will get to enter and freely choose your seat in that order. The screen is medium size (7.2m×3m) and there are plenty of seats (99) so it’s unlikely to sell out. As far as I know, all movies screen from 35mm as they should.

Opposite to the theatre entrance there is a small book store selling movie memorabilia. You can pick up advertising booklets (pamphlets) for 1980s idol films, 1980s Kinji Fukasaku films, 1980s and 1990s slasher and zombie films etc. They even had some Roman Porno video cassettes for sale. Highly recommended if you visit the theatre, and a great way to kill time between the movies.

Access: Jinbocho subway station. You can access for example from Shibuya (Hanzomon line) or Ueno (Ginza line, change to Hanzomon line at Mitsukoshimae). Once you’re at Jimbocho take Exit A7, go left for a couple of small blocks, and turn left again one mini-block before a kind of mini-part. You can see the end of the road as it’s only about 200 metres and there should be a brown (or grey) building at the end of it. There’s also a convenience store on the street. Jimbocho Theater is the strange looking grey building near the end of the street on the left.

Theater website: http://www.shogakukan.co.jp/jinbocho-theater/index.html

Eros Retrospective

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Eros Retrospective: "Memorabilia Box"

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Eros Retrospective: Distant Thunder (1981) on the left

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Eros Retrospective: Theme Wall

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Eros Retrospective: Virgin Blues (1974)

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Jinbocho Theater (part 2)

Yuzo Kayama Retrospective + ads from earlier retrospectives

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Yuzo Kayama Retrospective

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Yuzo Kayama Retrospective

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Yuzo Kayama Retrospective

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Yuzo Kayama Retrospective: "Memorabilia Box"

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Composer Sei Ikeno Retrospective: Yokai Monsters (1968) on the right

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And here's the bookstore I mentioned

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Some of the stuff I bought: Pamphlets for three great Hiroko Yakushimaru films:

Sailor Suit and Machine Gun (1981), School in the Crosshairs (1981) and Legend of the Eight Samurai (1983)

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The still with Hiroko sitting on Shinji Somai's lap is my favourite behind the scenes still of all time.

A genius director thinking of the next scene, with the greatest idol of all time waiting for his decision.

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The greatest idol movie of all time in the making!

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And while we're at it, I gotta link this great tribute video to Sailor Suit and Machine Gun. It's made up of scenes in chronological order and will spoil the ending, so you may not wish to watch it beyond the 2 minute mark if you haven't seen the film.

ihxc5zSmpmM

Damn this film is great. One of my greatest wishes, aside Blade Runner, is to get to see this on 35mm some day...

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Theatre Introduction: Meguro Cinema

I already wrote a little bit about Meguro Cinema in this thread when I discussed About Lily Chou Chou and Swallowtail Butterfly. That double feature was a part of their Shunji Iwai series, which started with Love Letter and Hana & Alice, and later continued with Fireworks, Should We See It from the Side or the Bottom? (1993), April Story (1998) and Vampire (2011) (Vol. 3), and Fried Dragon Fish (1993), Picnic (1996) and Kon Ichikawa Story (2006) (Vol. 4). Since these latter two volumes included a combination of short and feature length film, they played as triple features instead of double features.

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I need to emphasize how amazingly good April Story looked on 35mm. Here's a film that really demonstrates the strengths of the format and features some absolutely stunning cinematography. It used to be my favourite Iwai film when I was young. Now I recognize it's perhaps a bit too light on story to compare with Iwai's greatest masterpiece, All About Lily Chou Chou, but it's still an amazing tranquil film.

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I saw Vampire for the first time. It's an uneven film that feels more like a film school graduate work than an Iwai film, but it's also a fascinating, beautiful and extremely uncommercial movie that is free from nearly all the vampire movie conventions. I had forgotten that Yu Aoi is in it, too. She's one of the most talented actresses of her generation, and the most beautiful of them all!

Meguro Cinema screens all their movies as double features (or in some rare cases triple features). The same two films will be played all day for all week. There's no seat reservation: you buy the ticket from a vending machine and hand it over to the staff. They will then show you to a line where people are waiting for the current film to end. Once you're in, you could basically sit there all day if you wanted to see the same movies three times. Of course, you can also just choose to watch only one film since the price is relatively affordable anyway. This system does result in some inconvenience for the staff, though, since they don't know exactly how many people are in. In popular screenings they have to come and count the empty seats there are to know how many tickets they can still sell.

As you could expect, Meguro Cinema doesn't screen the latest hits since double feature system wouldn't be suitable for that. Instead they show semi-recent films which have recently finished their theatrical run, movies from a few years ago, and sometimes slightly older movies like 1990's stuff. Films screen from 35mm whenever that is the original format - newer films are DCP since no film prints exist.

The atmosphere is nice. Movie soundtracks are played in the theatre during breaks whenever available. When a film is about to begin, the staff informs the audience by ringing bells. The seats are comfortable and the screen is mid size (5.4m x 2.5m). The only minus side is that the air condition can make the theatre a little bit cold at times if you're wearing t-shirt. You usually don't notice it during the first film, but if you're staying there for a double feature you may wish to bring a long sleeve shirt with you (or something else that you can put over your arms) just in case.

The last time I went to Meguro Cinema was when they screened Akira (1988) and Memories (1995). This double feature was screened for three weeks straight, and seemed to be very popular. Unfortunately I didn't have time to stay for Memories, but seeing Akira from a good quality 35mm print was an unforgettable experience!

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Access: Meguro Cinema is located in very close to the JR Meguro station. It's easily accessible for example via the Yamanote line (about 10 min from Shibuya or Shinjuku). You should take the West Exit, and walk to the traffic lights about 50m to the right. If you look to the other side, you should be able to see the theatre.

Website: http://www.okura-movie.co.jp/meguro_cinema/now_showing.html

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