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Five Japanese Divas

Nick Pinkerton in the Voice on Five Japanese Divas, running from tomorrow through April 21: "Rarefied Ozu, bold Kurosawa, saturnine Naruse, magisterial Mizoguchi. The Great Men are here, and then some, but Film Forum's 23-feature series foregrounds other names in the credits: Yamada, Kyo, Tanaka, Hara, Takamine — the women of Japanese cinema's ridiculously fecund postwar Golden Age, when on-screen drama addressed an upended social reality for a national audience that suddenly included many females cashing their first paychecks."

Time Out New York's David Fear offers a "quick primer" on Setsuko Hara ("The Girl Next Door"), Machiko Kyô ("The Chameleon"), Hideko Takamine ("The Icon"), Kinuyo Tanaka ("The Martyr") and Isuzu Yamada ("The Technician").

"Considered a bold feminist statement for 1936 Japan as well as a turning point in his own career, Kenji Mizoguchi's Sisters of the Gion is a perfect showcase for his early muse, Isuzu Yamada," finds Joe Bendel.

"Of all the women to suffer onscreen in classic Japanese cinema, few matched actress Hideko Takamine for her startling mixture of resentment, resignation, and resolve," writes Tom Beer in his brief Artforum guide to the six films in the series featuring the actress who died this past December. See, too, Daniel Kasman and Dan Sallitt's remembrances.

Update, 4/4: The New Yorker's Richard Brody on Dragnet Girl (1933) with Kinuyo Tanaka: "Ozu's version of a gangster movie seethes with sardonic comedy — he holds underworld swagger in unconcealed contempt — yet he adorns it with images of an uproarious visual ecstasy."

Image above: Hideko Takamine in When a Woman Ascends the Stairs. For news and tips throughout the day every day, follow @thedailyMUBI on Twitter and/or the RSS feed.

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