Thursday, November 26, 2009

An Imamura Classic

One of the most memorable of Shohei Imamura’s oddly affecting films that include such classics as Pigs and Battleships, The Pornographers and Vengeance Is Mine is 1989's Black Rain (AnimEigo), which shows with exquisitely poetic–and black and white–restraint the fallout from the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima in August 1945. After the devastating explosion (which we see in harrowing detail), the survivors stoically but heroically carry on with their mundane lives. With a hushed, uninsistent score by the brilliant modernist composer Toru Takemitsu, Imamura’s Black Rain is simply an unforgettable, humane experience that haunts for days afterwards with its unsparing vision of how life goes on after death. As far as extras go, short interviews with Imamura’s then-assistant director Takashi Miike and actress Yoshiko Tanaka are enjoyable if superficial; most interesting is a 19-minute alternate ending, shot in color, which gives a different take on what happens to Imamura’s characters.
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