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When a Woman Ascends the Stairs
Mikio Naruse’s best-known film is a masterful study of Ginza hostess struggling under constant pressures to compromise her honour.
1960 111 mins
Director: Mikio Naruse
The widowed Keiko (Hideko Tanake) manages a hostess bar in Tokyo’s Ginza district. She remains faithful to the memory of her husband and supports her mother, brother and his son. The smiling mask she wears allows her to make a living, but the pressure to sell herself is unrelenting. Her business is failing and she must decide whether to raise the money to buy her own bar or marry one of her admiring affluent patrons.
Mikio Naruse’s superb, heartrending film is a classic of post-war Japanese cinema.
Drama 1954 207 mins Director: Akira Kurosawa
Farmers hire a band of samurai to defend them against marauding bandits in Kurosawa’s influential epic, a touchstone for action movies ever since.
Drama 1985 154 mins Director: Akira Kurosawa
Akira Kurosawa’s visually spectacular epic transplants Shakespeare’s King Lear from Celtic Britain to feudal Japan.
Crime 1950 88 mins Director: Akira Kurosawa
Credited with bringing Japanese cinema to worldwide audiences, Akira Kurosawa’s breakthrough tells the story of a murder in the woods from four differing perspectives.
Drama 1953 136 mins Director: Yasujirō Ozu
A constant fixture in critics' polls, Yasujiro Ozu's most enduring masterpiece is a beautifully nuanced exploration of filial duty, expectation and regret.
Drama 1960 128 mins Director: Yasujirō Ozu
Comedy turns to pathos in Yasujiro Ozu's tale of a group of businessmen who conspire to match-make for a widow and her daughter.
Comedy 1958 118 mins Director: Yasujirō Ozu
Ozu's deft comedy takes an ironic look at the decline of paternal authority.
Featuring Hideko Takamine
Featuring Masayuki Mori
Crime 1960 151 mins Director: Akira Kurosawa
The first film made by Akira Kurosawa's own production company is a dark tale of greed, corporate corruption and revenge.
Directed by Mikio Naruse
Drama 1954 101 mins Director: Mikio Naruse
The story of four ageing geishas as they struggle to make ends meet in post-war Japan, from acclaimed filmmaker Mikio Naruse.
Drama 1998 119 mins Director: Hirokazu Koreeda
Koreeda's lyrical fantasy challenges the viewer to reflect on the experiences that most make life worth living.
Drama 1995 109 mins Director: Hirokazu Koreeda
Koreeda’s first fiction feature is an exquisite meditation on loss, loneliness, uncertainty, and coming to terms with the past.
Documentary 2016 80 mins Director: Steven Okazaki
The on and off-screen character of Toshiro Mifune, Japan’s first international movie star, is explored in this illuminating documentary exploring the life and legacy of this mercurial icon.
Drama 2008 115 mins Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda
Koreeda’s subtle, moving account of the tensions within a family is his most Ozu-like film.
Drama 1964 140 mins Director: Mikhail Kalatozov
Mikhail Kalatozov’s epic about the Cuban Revolution is breathtaking both for its scope and the audacity.
Drama 2003 141 mins Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda
Koreeda’s drama about four children left to fend for themselves is a heartbreaking study of childhood neglect.