Eclipse #28: The Warped World of Koreyoshi Kurahara
As essential as any Criterion mainline release — the most vital and revelatory Eclipse series yet.
Criterion has released stuff like Salo (several times) without blinking an eye, so when they make a point of calling something “Warped,” it’s wise to take notice. And while the invigorating mid-60s cinema of Koreyoshi Kurahara features none of the grotesque spectacle that made Pasolini’s film so infamous and reviled, it is most certainly warped. From stories of wild teens to lurid, sexually-charged melodramas to whatever Black Sun is, Kurahara captured the frenzied pulse of a post-war people unmoored from the restraints of the past. His irrepressibly excitable camera moving too fast to be awed by the power of its own invention, Kurahara detailed a country splintered and angry, but also feverishly stoked to rebuild a culture in their own image, one finally at the mercy of their own whims.
These are five giddy and perversely accessible films about people on the brink of control who eagerly plunge into the void of abandon, never to resurface, and together they form what might be the most vital and important Eclipse set Criterion has released thus far. Kurahara — who later in life was responsible for blockbuster fare like Antarctica, which held the Japanese box office record for 14 years — has never enjoyed the sort of international awareness that has come to Nikkatsu peers of his like Masahiro Shinoda, but this collection should vault him into a stature all his own (or at least see him recognized as the Samuel Fuller of Japan).
i’ll stop there, as i don’t want to chunk up your dashboards too much, but come back over the next few days for brief reviews of the set’s individual films.