|6:30 p.m.||Tokyo Drifter|
Seijun Suzuki (Japan, 1966)
(Tokyo nagaremono). Suzuki used a plot about the last honorable yakuza to chip away at his own obligations to genre; by the next year he would be shown the door at Nikkatsu for making “incomprehensible films.” Tokyo Drifter marks an epiphany in Suzuki’s collaboration with art director Takeo Kimura. The plot sketches a fine line between underworld and high finance in the story of ex-yakuza Tetsu, who tries to go it alone and finds that Monopoly’s a pretty tough game. From the gorgeous, black-and-white opening shots in a train yard, to the shoot-the-piano-player finale in saloon and snow, Suzuki and Kimura raise the set-piece to an art installation. Cabaret walls are color-lit as if from within; background music is somehow heard by the actors; key encounters are eclipsed by visual metaphors like a car methodically being crushed; and characters are eclipsed by their idiosyncrasies, like the secretary who devours comic books, and, incidentally, men.
• Written by Yasunori Kawauchi. Photographed by Shigeyoshi Mine. With Tetsuya Watari, Chieko Matsubara, Hideaki Nitani, Ryuji Kita. (83 mins, In Japanese with English subtitles, Color, ’Scope, 35mm, Permission Janus Films/Criterion Collection)