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Countercurrents: The Films of Yasuzo Masumura

Saturday, September 6, 1997
Yasuzo Masumura Japan, 1957

(Kuchizuke). Masumura's debut film was about restless youth not so much alienated as abandoned by an avaricious older generation. Kisses has a fresh (in both senses!) style for which it is a forerunner to the New Wave, but in its unsentimental lyricism it also shows the director's Italian influence. Kinichi (Hiroshi Kawaguchi), a taciturn lad, and Akiko (Hitomi Nozoe), a struggling artists' model, meet at the prison where both their fathers are serving time. On a borrowed motorcycle on borrowed time, they spend a day at the races and the beach, lose and find each other, while for both, the specter looms of papa's bail and the sacrifices they will have to make for it. Life, as Kinichi bravely ventures, may be "boring," but this film never is, with asymmetrical urban framing and a camera on the run ("Let's crash!").

• Written by Kazuo Funabashi, based on a novel by Matsutaro Kawaguchi. Photographed by Joji Ohara. With Hiroshi Kawaguchi, Hitomi Nozoe, Aiko Mimasu, Eitaro Ozawa. (74 mins, In Japanese with English subtitles, B&W, 35mm, From The Japan Foundation, permission Daiei)