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Countercurrents: The Films of Yasuzo Masumura

September 10, 1997

The first two films of Yasuzo Masumura were a breath of fresh air: it was 1957, and Japanese cinema would never be the same. This fall we have a unique opportunity to find out what it was in the films of Yasuzo Masumura (1924-1986) that provoked critics, thrilled audiences, and inspired future New Wave artists like Nagisa Oshima, who recalled the restless energy of Masumura's debut film, Kisses: "I felt now that the tide of a new age could no longer be ignored by anyone, and that a powerful and irresistible force had arrived in Japanese cinema." Masumura was a maverick intellectual in the ranks of Daiei studio, with degrees in both law and literature, and an awareness of his place in cinema history. In the early fifties he studied at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia in Rome-an unusual choice for a Japanese filmmaker, and one whose influence is evident in his films, which are marked by astute observation of human nature but totally devoid of sentimentality. Apprenticed at Daiei to Mizoguchi, Ichikawa, and Yoshida, in his own films Masumura subverted melodrama with rapid-fire dialogue and breakneck cutting, stripping away the lyricism of Japanese cinema to reveal the contradictions of life in postwar Japan. His films foregrounded women's independence and sexuality, by way of conveying an invasive, repressive society. Masumura's commitment to the individual went against the grain in Japanese society, where the harmony of the group is valued; he showed the cost of conformism in brilliant satires of corporate life and consumerism. If his characters are increasingly abnormal, the situations increasingly violent, it is in the name of rationality which he championed above all else. Countercurrents: The Films of Yasuzo Masumura is presented with the cooperation of the Japan Society, New York, with special thanks to Kyoko Hirano; The Japan Foundation; Daiei Co., Ltd.; and Kawakita Memorial Film Institute.Countercurrents: The Films of Yasuzo Masumura and Whispering Sidewalks are made possible through the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund Museum Collections Accessibility Initiative. Saturday September 6, 1997

Saturday, September 6, 1997
Kisses


Saturday, September 6, 1997
Warm Current


Saturday, September 13, 1997
The Precipice


Saturday, September 13, 1997
The Build-Up


Saturday, September 20, 1997
A False Student


Saturday, September 20, 1997
Afraid to Die


Saturday, September 27, 1997
Black Test Car


Saturday, September 27, 1997
The Wife's Confession


Saturday, October 4, 1997
Manji


Saturday, October 4, 1997
Thousand Cranes


Saturday, October 11, 1997
Lullaby of the Earth


Saturday, October 11, 1997
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