What at first purports to be a documentary on the missing person problem in overcrowded Japan develops into Imamura’s most brilliant illustration of the absurdity of “objective cinema.” Using only a small crew and no cast as such, Imamura follows up on one of hundreds of missing persons reports filed with the police. He interviews the missing man’s family, employers, acquaintances, and his fiancée, who has filed the report thinking that her own sister has murdered the man. The film takes on a surreal aspect when the fiancée loses interest in the murder and takes a strong liking to the interviewer himself. Using sync sound and hidden camera techniques to blur fact and fiction filmmaking long before it was trendy to do so, Imamura effects the final breakdown of cinema verité in the film’s audacious final sequence. —Pacific Film Archive
Shohei Imamura’s ribald, darkly comic films about messy human relationships and coarse, indomitable women repelled early European critics who had grown to cherish the graceful, exotic image of Japan typified by Kenji Mizoguchi films. Yet Imamura remains a critically important director, both as one of the seminal Japanese New Wave directors (along with Nagisa Oshima and Masahiro Shinoda) and as a chronicler of a side of Japan rarely seen in Mizoguchi movies or tourist brochures.
Born in 1926, in Tokyo, Imamura attended the elite elementary and middle schools that normally would have aimed him toward a prestigious university degree and a comfortable career in business or government. His love of theater and loathing of bourgeois presumptions, however, steered him away from a conventional lifestyle. When he failed the entrance exam for the agriculture program at the national university in Hokkaido, he enrolled in a technical school to evade the draft. The day the Pacific War ended… read more
Finally able to see this. Uncanny for the ways in which it recalls both specific scenes, and the overall structure, of Yoshitaro Nomura's Zero Focus. Also prefigures the spirit and execution of Kim Ki-duk's Real Fiction by 3 or 4 decades. Also the concept behind Medium Cool. Also also the end of Jodorowsky's The Holy Mountain... and I still have little idea which parts were documentary and which parts not. Great.
Due to being tired I had to watch this film in two parts. When I was watching, I found parts of the first half of the film to be a little plodding but I honestly can't say whether that was the film's problem or my own fatigue. When I returned to the film a different day, I found it very engaging and interesting. The scene in which (SPOILERS) the set is pulled down around the actors/characters/who knows was brilliant.