Obit: Shohei Imamura


Shohei Imamura, one of the greatest directors in modern Japanese cinema, died today at age 79. His vision was recognized internationally, having won the Palme D'Or at the Cannes film festival twice, for Unagi (The Eel 2001) and for Akai hashi no shita no nurui mizu (Warm Water Under a Red Bridge 1997), one of only two to cop that prestigious piece twice in their career. Both films starred a face somewhat familiar to us Yanks, Koji Yakusho, who starred in Memoirs of a Geisha. Imamura-sensei was, as he said, obsessed with the lower half of the human body and the lower echelon of society, as evidenced in droll comedies like Jinruigaku nyumon: Erogotshi yori (The Pornographer 1966) or the brutally tragic Narayama Bushiko (The Ballad of Narayama 1983). I highly commend these films to you budding film jockeys and armchair cineastes. Interestingly, Imamura started his career as an assistant to Yazujiro Ozu, however considering Imamura's body of work, they probably couldn't have been more different (perhaps there's some of Ozu in Imamura's film on Hiroshima Kuroi Ame). Of course, Ozu, the master, is much loved, inspiring books, retrospectives, reprints. I'll take Imamura, though

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