The Faithful and the Faithless

The Japanese film poster for THIS TRANSIENT LIFE (1970).

Some people believe in heaven and the afterlife while others are convinced that human life is temporal and when it ends nothing remains but a corpse. A dramatization of those opposing views in a film would be a challenging task for any director but Japanese director Akio Jissoji confronts a number of philosophical and religious matters by exploring Buddhist thought and practices versus human desire in Mujo (English title: This Transient Life, 1970). The result is a fascinating and visually innovative character study that manages to balance the sacred and the profane in one of the most overlooked Japanese films of the 70s which is finally starting to receive its due thanks to resurfacing on Blu-ray in recent years.

Continue reading

Guilty Bystanders

The Japanese film poster for Mikkai aka THE ASSIGNATION (1959), directed by Ko Nakahira.

A young couple are enjoying a romantic rendezvous in a hidden grove at a city park at twilight. It turns out to be an illicit affair. The woman is the married wife of a law professor and her lover is one of his students. Their privacy is interrupted by the arrival of a speeding taxi that crashes into an embankment nearby. Inside the driver is seen struggling with the backseat occupant. It ends badly with the driver murdered and his body dragged into the bushes. The killer flees and the young couple are faced with a dilemma. Should they go to the police and risk exposing their affair or remain silent? This is the pressing issue that drives the narrative of The Assignation (Japanese title: Mikkai, 1959), directed by Ko Nakahira. 

Continue reading