In celebration of all that is eccentric in Japanese pop culture, the Powell Street Festival Society and Pacific Cinematheque presented Kibatsu Cinema from May 27-29th.
If you are like me, and feel slightly disoriented in the world of cult classics, here’s the lowdown on a handful of films that were featured:
Youth of the Beast
There is no room for the weak-hearted in Seijun Suzuki’s 1963 Yakuza B-film, where gangsters run free in the streets and deceit & betrayal are as widespread as the common cold. Unpredictable plot twists and unusual camera angles keep the audience intrigued. Suzuki’s amped-up cinematography at times appears like a Surreal painting a la Salvador Dali. And while the film may not seem to reflect real life, the juxtaposition of cacophonous, unruly city streets with quiet, composed intimate spaces does a pretty good job of displaying the extremes that are evident in Japanese society to this day.
Live From Tokyo
This documentary by Lewis Rapkin explores the bizarre Tokyo indie music scene, through interviews with musicians & industry pros, and lengthy footage from live shows, while shots of Tokyo’s dynamic city life providing the backdrop. Rapkin presents a unique & unassuming exploration of this underground scene, which left me wanting to jump on a plane and discover some obscure band in one of Tokyo’s many live music houses.
Easily the most “cult-y” of the bunch, Go Shibata’s non-narrative film is outside the realm of pretty much any category you might try to place it in. Instead of “thinking outside of the box”, Shibata takes a sledge hammer and splits that confined box into a thousand pieces. Doman Seman plays out like a tripped out video game on steroids. By the end of it, you may feel as though you’ve seen it all, hardly blinking an eye as pretty school boys beat up homeless bums, and innocent kindergarteners stage midnight seances.