Japanese new wave director Seijun Suzuki dies at 93

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Mike Gebert

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Japanese new wave director Seijun Suzuki dies at 93

PostWed Feb 22, 2017 9:39 am

Something like the Sam Fuller of Japanese cinema, Seijun Suzuki directed a number of stylish crime films in the 1960s (Criterion has released Branded to Kill and Tokyo Drifter) and continued working into the 2000s even as he was often an outcast from the major studios.

The Hollywood Reporter:

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/j ... -93-978387

The cult director who churned out yakuza gangster B-movies that were later hailed as classics influenced Quentin Tarantino and Jim Jarmusch. Japanese director Seijun Suzuki died Feb. 13 at a Tokyo hospital after a battle with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which affects the lungs. He was 93.

His death was announced by Nikkatsu, the studio that famously fired him in 1967 after 12 years and 40 films, for what is now seen as his masterpiece, Branded to Kill. The film was made in black and white as a punishment for his work on Tokyo Drifter — now also considered a classic — the year before. Both films were intended by Nikkatsu to be straightforward, B-movie yakuza gangster flicks, but Suzuki’s experimental style, unconventional narrative flow and comedy touches were too much for the studio bosses.

Suzuki sued for unfair dismissal and found himself shunned by the industry and unable to direct for a decade.

“Seijun Suzuki made his directorial debut with Harbor Toast: Victory Is in Our Grasp in 1956 and since then he continued to influence fans and filmmakers all around the world with films such as Tokyo Drifter, Branded to Kill and Zigeunerweisen,” said Nikkatsu in a statement, adding, “We hereby express our deepest condolence and our profound gratitude and respect for his lifelong work.”

Suzuki went on to find work as an actor and television celebrity in Japan, before gaining international recognition later in life for his directing, with Quentin Tarantino, Jim Jarmusch, Wong Kar-wai and Takeshi Kitano all hailing his creative genius and influence.

Zigeunerweisen was screened at the Berlin film festival in 1980 after Suzuki had promoted it in Japan by taking an inflatable tent cinema around the country to allow audiences to see it. It was later voted the best film of the decade by film critics in Japan.

His final film was Princess Raccoon in 2005.
“Sentimentality is when it doesn't come off—when it does, you get a true expression of life's sorrows.” —Alain-Fournier
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Re: Japanese new wave director Seijun Suzuki dies at 93

PostWed Feb 22, 2017 11:46 am

At least he got to a ripe old age, but still sad news. Seeing Branded to Kill and Tokyo Drifter for the first time when they were released on laserdisc opened my eyes to a whole world of Japanese filmmaking I knew little about at the time, because so little of it was available on these shores. Now I'll watch any '60s Yakuza or "Sun Tribe" film I can get my hands on, an endlessly fascinating time and place for movies that are still full of surprises.
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Re: Japanese new wave director Seijun Suzuki dies at 93

PostWed Feb 22, 2017 5:05 pm

His plagiarism was limited only by his faulty technique.

-- Peter Schickele
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Re: Japanese new wave director Seijun Suzuki dies at 93

PostWed Feb 22, 2017 5:19 pm

The Siskel Film Center ran a Suzuki retrospective about a year ago, which made me feel very old because I already saw them all at the previous Suzuki retrospective 15 years ago.
“Sentimentality is when it doesn't come off—when it does, you get a true expression of life's sorrows.” —Alain-Fournier
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Re: Japanese new wave director Seijun Suzuki dies at 93

PostWed Feb 22, 2017 5:22 pm

I find the fact that the NYT obit would have us believe his importance is not his movies, but who his movies impress.

Bob
His plagiarism was limited only by his faulty technique.

-- Peter Schickele

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