Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Two Imamura's Coming from The Masters of Cinema in October

Previously releasing excellent editions of Vengeance is Mine (Fukushu suru wa ware ni ari) (1979), Profound Desires of the Gods (Kamigami no fukaki yokubo) (1968) and Pigs and Battleships (Buta no gunkan) (1962), The Masters of Cinema are coming out with two more by Shohei Imamura: Palme D'or winner The Ballad of Narayama (Narayama Bushiko) (1983) and A Man Vanishes (Ningen Johatsu) (1967).

The Ballad of Narayama is Imamura's second collaboration with Ken Ogata following in the tail of Vengeance is Mine and his first and only remake. Based on the previous Kinoshita version from 1958, The Ballad of Narayama follows an elderly woman who spends the last year of her life fixing family problems and tying loose ends in her small village. Equal parts bleak and comedic in it's depiction of how the young treat the elderly and its parallels with modern society. Special features include a new video interview with Tony Rayns, four theatrical trailers and a booklet featuring an Imamura interview, production stills, fragments of the director's production diary and the teasing of more to be announced later.

Then is the release that's truly exciting and a bit unexpected, A Man Vanishes! I'm guessing The Masters of Cinema must have gone through the immense effort of clearing the film with Imamura Productions, Nikkatsu Studios and Art Theater Guild, but they managed to get the rights to his excellent documentary (or is it?). Taking the viewer on a journey through Japan's middle-class, Imamura exposes and destroys the walls that surround and mask the lives of the modern Japanese family during the investigation of a missing salaryman. Like the film, the special features remain to be allusive with just a mention of another Tony Rayns interview, a booklet of archival imagery and more to be announced closer to the release date.

Here's a trailer for The Ballad of Narayama:

(Uploaded onto YouTube by user UmbrellaEnt)

And the trailer for A Man Vanishes:

(Uploaded onto YouTube by user WorldCinematheque)

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