An absolute blast of enthusiastic '60s cinema from Criterion's Eclipse Series...
After a couple decades of watching movies, sometime you get the feeling that you've seen it all before. Perhaps like me, you thought you knew what Japanese cinema is all about... along comes Koreyoshi's THE BLACK SUN. From the first frames on, you know you were wrong. This is something you've never seen before.
Take the daring edits of Jean-Luc Godard, the delicious pulp of Sam Fuller, and perhaps the satire/humor of a Dogme 95 flick, somehow manage to blend them all together perfectly and you're getting warming. Eclipse does a great job programming this 5 disc collection. Each film offers further insight, shows Koreyoshi deploying his characteristic touches in a variety of contexts.
The first film, INTIMIDATION, is pretty much straight Nikkatsu Noir. Chock full of great camera angles, close ups, this is the story of a desperate bank manager, caught up in a plot to rob the company safe. The next two, THE WARPED ONES & THE BLACK SUN, show Koreyoshi fully immersed in his own brave, jazz, mayhem fueled, east-meets-west, world of filmmaking. They are made with small casts and full of crazy scenarios.
The fourth, THIRST FOR LOVE, based on a book by revered author Yukio Mishima, is perhaps the most mature film included. The Tennessee Williams-esque melodrama of Mishima's story provides Koreyoshi with a cohesive, yet emotionally complex, platform to work his magic. The effects are as fresh today as anything Wes Anderson has made.
And lastly, I HATE BUT LOVE, the only film shot in color, is a light, reflexive satire on the cult of celebrity status. A breezy comedy that plays with all the light charm of a Cary Grant flick... with the spur of the moment pacing of a Fellini picture. This film bookends INTIMIDATION nicely, and shows us that Koreyoshi was never one to stay put for long- an adventurous director full style and wit. - Merrick