The Catch: Japanese Cinema of the Eighties

The Catch: Japanese Cinema of the Eighties

The Catch: Japanese Cinema of the Eighties

The Catch: Japanese Cinema of the Eighties

The Catch: Japanese Cinema of the Eighties

The Catch: Japanese Cinema of the Eighties

The Catch: Japanese Cinema of the Eighties

TIFF Cinematheque - Retrospective

Skip to schedule and film credits
Ranging from the wild and wanton to the austere and magisterial, from major late works by masters Hiroshi Teshigahara and Kinji Fukasaku to the debuts of unruly upstarts like Takeshi Kitano, this series showcases rarely seen classics from what many consider the last great era of Japanese cinema.

Films in The Catch: Japanese Cinema of the Eighties

    • Violent Cop
    • Sono otoko, kyobo ni tsuki
    • Takeshi Kitano
    • Takeshi Kitano made his international reputation as the director and star of this super-hard-boiled cop thriller.

    • No events playing at this time.
    • Muddy River
    • Doro no kawa
    • Kohei Oguri
    • Hailed as a contemporary classic of Japanese cinema upon its release in North America, this moving drama about a young boy who is forced to confront the cruelty and hypocrisy of the adult world is a masterwork of humanist filmmaking.

    • No events playing at this time.
    • The Family Game
    • Kazoku gemu
    • Yoshimitsu Morita
    • Acclaimed as a major discovery upon its North American release, Yoshimitsu Morita's hilariously deadpan comedy invokes the precise visual and sound design of Jacques Tati to portray the hilarity and horror of contemporary Japan.

    • No events playing at this time.
    • I Are You, You Am Me
    • Tenkosei
    • Nobuhiko Obayashi
    • Nobuhiko Obayashi, director of the cult classic poltergeist epic House, had a huge hit with this Freaky Friday-style gender-switch comedy about two high school students who swap bodies.

    • No events playing at this time.
    • Fall Guy
    • Kamata koshin-kyoku
    • Kinji Fukasaku
    • The acclaimed director of Battles Without Honor and Humanity and Battle Royale had his biggest hit with this funny and suspenseful satire of the Japanese film industry.

    • No events playing at this time.
    • The Catch
    • Gyoei no mure
    • Shinji Somai
    • Ken Ogata (Vengeance Is Mine, Mishima) stars in this powerful study of a macho tuna fisherman whose obliviousness to the suffering of others is challenged when tragedy strikes his own family.

    • No events playing at this time.
    • The Man Who Stole the Sun
    • Taiyo wo nusunda otoko
    • Kazuhiko Hasegawa
    • A high school chemistry teacher attempts to hold Japan to ransom with a homemade atomic bomb in this weird, wild and controversial black comedy.

    • No events playing at this time.
    • Farewell to the Land
    • Saraba itoshiki daichi
    • Mitsuo Yanagimachi
    • Director Mitsuo Yanagimachi evokes Bresson and Mizoguchi in this portrait of an alienated, amphetamine-addicted loner in rural Japan at odds with his family, friends, and society at large.

    • No events playing at this time.
    • Preparation for the Festival
    • Matsuri no junbi
    • Kazuo Kuroki
    • Named after one of Gauguin's Tahitian paintings, this affectionate and insightful autobiographical portrait of a rural Japanese community was hailed as a major work when it played at the New York Film Festival.

    • No events playing at this time.
    • Rikyu
    • Hiroshi Teshigahara
    • The great Hiroshi Teshigahara (Woman in the Dunes) returned to the screen with this exquisitely designed historical drama about a famed sixteenth-century tea master who enters a clash of wills with an ambitious warlord.

    • No events playing at this time.
    • No More Easy Going
    • Mo ho-zue wa tsukanai
    • Yoichi Higashi
    • A young woman is torn between her obnoxious boyfriend and an older, eccentric journalist with ties to the underworld, in this extraordinarily intimate study of male fecklessness and female desire.

    • No events playing at this time.

The Kawakita Memorial Film Institute in Tokyo presents this significant survey of films from a decade often declared the last important period of Japanese film production — the 1980s — in several new 35mm prints made especially for this retrospective. Ranging from the wild and wanton to the austere and magisterial, this programme includes many rarely seen classics from that extraordinary era, and offers an introduction to important directors whose work is not easily available.

It is perhaps invidious to compare any previous "golden age" with contemporary times, which are inevitably found wanting, but one can look back with longing at the heady period of eighties Japanese cinema. The emergence of such auteurs as Mitsuo Yanagimachi, Juzo Itami, Sogo Ishii, Kaizo Hayashi and Takeshi Kitano, and the critical excitement over such one-off classics as Muddy River and The Family Game, created a sense of resurgence after the cresting of the Japanese New Wave in the seventies. Nothing like a movement, the directors presented in this survey range from established masters like Hiroshi Teshigahara and Kinji Fukasaku to unruly upstarts like Kitano, and their disparate styles vary from the quietly humanist (Muddy River) to the rigorously detached (Farewell to the Land), the hilariously deadpan (The Family Game) to the riotously unfettered (The Man Who Stole the Sun).

Along with such classic themes of Japanese cinema as family relations and the incursion of modernity into rural life, one distinct throughline connects many of the films in this series. Comparatively apolitical after the onslaught of Nagisa Oshima, Shohei Imamura and others of their cohort, these films reveal postwar disillusionment turning from social engagement to self-imposed isolation. The protagonists of many of these films — the macho fisherman in The Catch, the drug-addicted truck driver in Farewell to the Land, the asocial son in The Family Game, the crazed chemistry teacher in The Man Who Stole the Sun, the lone wolf detective in Violent Cop — are often outsiders or isolates, estranged from the smiling, deferential, success-obsessed society that surrounds them. That rejection would become more extreme and insular in Japanese cinema of the subsequent decade, with its shut-ins, "nowhere men" and otakus physically as well as psychically sequestered in their tiny spaces. No More Easy Going, as the title of one film in this survey proclaims — though one might never know it from the often trivial films that typify Japan's current cinematic output, despite the determination of such directors as Hirokazu Kore-eda and Kiyoshi Kurosawa to maintain a serious auteurist cinema. Here, in contrast, is proof that the eighties was a period of great invention and consequence in the post-New Wave Japanese cinema.

—James Quandt