Hymn to a Tired Man uses a flashback narrative to reflect on war and its aftermath. A mild-mannered office worker is driven to recall his past when his son falls in love with the daughter of the commanding officer under whom he served during World War II. Memories of abusive discipline resurface throwing the former soldier’s relatively quiet postwar life into turmoil. Kobayashi offers an unsparing indictment of the lack of accountability for the scars of battle.
Soon after the disparate yet compatible Naoya and Katsuhiro start to settle into a relationship, a slightly unhinged young woman named Asako asks Katsuhiro to father her child. While the couple navigate the implications of this unexpected proposal, they are forced to confront their conflicting understandings of what it means to be gay and in a committed relationship. A landmark work of LGBTQ Japanese cinema by pioneering director Ryosuke Hashiguchi, Hush! humorously and poignantly upends the traditional Japanese genre of the family drama to offer a deeply human story about three people doing their best to be true to themselves.
In her brother’s apartment where he died, Yuki finds a vacuum cleaner with its cord still hooked up to the outlet. She discovers that the circumstances surrounding her brother’s supposed suicide are sketchy at best, yet no one has any answers. When she starts having hallucinations involving his ghost, however, she seeks some psychological help, eventually uncovering some things that she may have wished she’d left covered.
The first of Kawashima’s Daiei Studio collaborations with Wakao centers on the life of a Tokyo geisha named Koen and her relationships with various men. Starting out with no singing or dancing talents, the young, free-spirited Koen is initially eager to please and happy to do what she is told. With time and experience, however, she gradually begins to notice a change in herself and questions what she wants out of life. Played with subtle shifts in emotion, Wakao’s delicate performance earned her the Kinema Junpo Award and Blue Ribbon Award for Best Actress.
The hero is Toshio Kanbe, a middle-aged salaryman with a typical family (wife, two teenage children), living quietly in a provincial city (Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture), who wakes up one morning in the summer of 1994 to find himself the prime suspect in the biggest mass-murder case of the decade. Someone, somehow, released clouds of poison gas that killed seven and sickened nearly 600 people in his apartment building and neighborhood.
Brian Anderson is an Army medic serving in Vietnam during the war who begins his service with an attitude of looking out only for himself. But to fulfill a promise to a friend who was killed in action, Brian agrees to work in a local orphanage. He gradually becomes so devoted to the children there that he risks his life and career in order to protect them.
Hani Susumu’s Inferno of First Love, is a brilliant, unforgettable, and sensitive film. Working from a script by playwright, and experimental filmmaker, Terayama Shuji, Hani’s film captures Shun, an orphan, who falls in love with a pretty young nude model named Nanami, with his sexual inadequacies, problem childhood, and coming of age. Examining Shun, we see the reality of child molestation, with deep scars that ripple into adulthood, exposing the twin monsters of repression and inadequacy looming overhead. Shun’s complex relationship with his parents, Nanami, and a young girl named Momi he befriends, eventually lead to disaster, as society closes in, so does fate.
As her husband Eiichi becomes more entangled in his life as businessman, Naoko looks for ways to expand her own life even as her husband’s life shrinks in scope and intimacy. She finds new interests, new love, and a greater sense of her place in the world.