Top Ten Thursdays: Japanese Films

One of my goals for the new year is to greatly increase the amount of Japanese films I view.  As it is right now I have seen a considerable amount of the classics, but could stand to see many more, particularly silent era Japanese cinema.  Regardless, I am offering a list of my ten favorite Japanese movies.  I will confess up front that this was a difficult list to compose.

10.) Audition (1999)

Thanks to a healthy push by Quentin Tarantino and an ever increasing cult following for the director Takashi Miikie, Audition is a infamous Japanese film that stretches the very limits of what one can consider viewable cinema.

9.) Battle Royale (1999)

Easily one of my favorite contemporary Japanese films, Battle Royale is an adaptation of a book by the same name, which follows a group of high school students who have been forced to kill each other in the name of entertainment.  The film is getting its first U.S. theatrical run in the coming year.  It should be exciting, if not morbid.

8.) Late Spring (1949) 

The works of Ozu set out to do one thing, and that is to break viewers hearts.  Late Spring, like so many of his works, follows a modern Japanese family as they face the crippling decay of their countries pre-war traditions.

7.) Patriotism (1966)

 The shortest film on this list at roughly twenty minutes, Patriotism was written and directed by Yukio Mishima who would later commit suicide in the name of political opposition in a manner that nearly parallels this short film.

6.) Kwaidan (1965)

Kwaidan is a series of short segments using popular Japanese ghost stories as its inspiration.  While the entire film is good, I would strongly recommend the short called Hoichi, The Earless.

5.) Jigoku (1960)

Roughly translating to Japanese Hell, Jigoku is perhaps the most exploitative Japanese film besides School of the Holy Beast.

4.) Ugetsu (1953)

Ugetsu is similar to Jigoku, in that it follows a character who travels through hell for a lost love.  This film is easily one of the most poetic ever made.

3.) Akira (1988)

This film keeps showing up on my top ten lists.  It is the pinnacle of Japanese animation.

2.) Godzilla (1954)

I know this is a different image than the original, however, Godzilla is not only one of the most important Japanese films ever, but one of the greatest viewing experiences a person can have.

1.) The Bad Sleep Well (1960)

I could have picked Seven Samurai...or any Kurosawa movie for that matter, but The Bad Sleep Well is my favorite, not only for its keen analysis of corruption in urban Japan, but also for its luxurious cinematography.

Honorable Mention

Seven Samurai (1954)
House (1977)
Vengeance Is Mine (1979)
Perfect Blue (1997)

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