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Pistol Opera  /  A Tale of Sorrow and Sadness

Pistol Opera
February 21, 2016 - 7:00 pm
Tom Vick, Freer and Sackler Galleries. He will sign copies of his book, "Time and Place are Nonsense: The Films of Seijun Suzuki," beginning at 6 p.m.

Print provided by Japan Foundation

Pistol Opera  (Japan, 2001)

When Satoru Ogura suggested director Seijun Suzuki make a sequel to his most notorious film, Branded to Kill (1967), the result was this eye-popping action extravaganza, which is less a sequel than a compact retrospective of Suzuki’s style and themes, updated with CGI effects and infused with the metaphysical concerns of the Taisho Trilogy.  Makiko Esumi plays Stray Cat, the number three killer in her assassins’ guild.  She battles her way to the top against characters such as Painless Surgeon, a cowboy who can feel no pain, and the mysterious number one killer “Hundred Eyes.”  Along the way, Stray Cat detours into the land of the dead, where her victims lurk, and into the “Atrocity Exhibition,” where she battles foes amid grotesque paintings from throughout art history.  Pistol Opera (2001) proves that, even in his 70s, Suzuki’s creativity was still firing on all cylinders.

35mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles, 112 min.  Production: Shochiku.  Producer: Satoru Ogura.  Director: Seijun Suzuki.  Screenwriter: Kazunori Ito, Takeo Kimura.  Cinematographer: Yonezo Maeda.  Production Design: Takeo Kimura.  Editor: Akira Suzuki.  Music: Kuzufumi Kodama.  With: Makiko Esumi, Sayoko Yamaguchi, Hanae Kan, Mikijiro Hira, Masatoshi Nagase.

Print provided by Japan Foundation

A Tale of Sorrow and Sadness  (Japan, 1977)

Hishu Monogatari

Nearly a decade after being fired by Nikkatsu Studios, Suzuki returned to the director’s chair with this titillating tale of a model who is groomed to become a professional golfer as a publicity stunt.  When she turns out to be good at the sport, her success leads a deranged fan to hatch a blackmail scheme.  “Riddled with the director's wildly non-conformist use of non-contiguous edits, unhinged shot composition, and violent splashes of colour, crazed and chaotic and for too long buried in the sand bunkers of obscurity, this long-overlooked work simply cries out for revival.” —Jasper Sharp, Midnight Eye.

35mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles, 93 min.  Production: Shochiku.  Director: Seijun Suzuki.  Based on a story by Ikki Kajiwara.  Screenwriter: Atsushi Yamatoya.  Cinematographer: Masaru Mori.  Editor: Akira Suzuki.  Music: Keitaro Miho, Ichiro Tomita.  With: Kyoko Enami, Yoshio Harada, Masumi Okada, Shûji Sano, Yoko Shiraki.