Welcome to Kinema Club

Welcome to the website of Kinema Club, a long-standing, international but informal group devoted to the study of Japanese moving image media. Kinema Club was started precisely to share knowledge about Japanese cinema, so this site serves both to introduce our activities, such as the KineJapan mailing list and our conferences and workshops, as well promote information and thinking about films, research, bibliography, and education.

The Fire Within

Gangster Scorched by Underworld Changes

At first glance, Mochizuki Rokuro’s films may look like the run-of-the-mill hard-boiled fare, featuring lone wolves on the edge reveling in the de rigeur sex and violence. Yet certain peculiarities always lift them... Read more

Wild Life*

The Unexpected Is the Joy of ‘Life’

It almost feels like Aoyama Shinji has been toying with us all along. With three feature films already under this maverick new director’s belt in the year since his debut, he keeps us guessing about what he will do next.

He started off with... Read more

Summer Tale*

Smiling at Our Own Imperfections

Did your mother ever give you the old line: “If you can’t make your bed, you’ll never make anything of yourself”? It seemed like a lot of pressure over just arranging a few sheets.

Takashi (Hidaka Yoshitomo), the fourth-grade hero of Summer Tale, has a similar problem. In gym class, he can’t do a back pullover over the... Read more

Labyrinth of Dreams

This Bus Ride Is Murder

Ishii Sogo used to be the bad boy of Japanese film. His 8mm Koko dai panikku (1976) climaxed with a rebellious teen shooting his school to pieces. Crazy Thunder... Read more

My Secret Cache*

Yaguchi’s secret: ‘Cache’ in on comedy

Sakiko (Nishida Naomi), the heroine of My Secret Cache, loves money. Most of us do, too, but Sakiko is a bit single-minded in her affection. After all, when asked out for dinner, she usually just responds, “Why not give me the money you’ll spend instead?”

So when Sakiko is kidnapped by bank robbers along with 500... Read more

Parasite Eve

Ochiai’s ‘Parasite’ Feeds on Television Cliches

Without fail, it was a trick that would appear in all the old Frankenstein horror flicks: Baron von Frankenstein would tower over the monster in his lab, scream out “He’s alive!” and at that moment, thunder would crash and lightning flash. The thunder emphasis became such a cliche that... Read more

Innocent Hearts

Hard-Boiled ‘Hearts’

One sees the term “hard-boiled” frequently in the press sheets for Japanese movies these days, as if the “hard-boiler” has become a genre in itself after the decline of the Toei yakuza line and its imitators.

While it was foreshadowed by Fukasaku ... Read more

Niji o tsukamu otoko

Send in the clones

When Atsumi Kiyoshi–the comedian who became synonymous with the character Torajiro Kuruma (aka Tora-san), died last year–Yamada Yoji vowed never to direct another “Otoko wa tsurai yo” film... Read more

Pia Film Festival Shows Off Japan's Independent Streak (Pia Film Festival 1996)

Judging just from the output of the major film companies, Japanese cinema is better off dead. Godzilla and Tora-san may have expired, but their studios are still breeding faded clones from their remaining genetic formulas.

If one looks at the independent scene, however, one encounters another world: a seething, vibrant creativity that threatens to melt the foundations of the movie... Read more

Chinpira/Two Punks*

Punks Having Identity Crisis

Played by the likes of Tsuruta Koji, Takakura Ken or Sugawara Bunta, yakuza in movies are usually made-of-steel, superhuman macho heroes who coldly stare death in the face and fight for honor and gang tradition. If these heroes express emotion, it is within the confines of the melodrama of duty... Read more


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