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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 1985 154 mins Director: Akira Kurosawa
Akira Kurosawa’s visually spectacular epic transplants Shakespeare’s King Lear from Celtic Britain to feudal Japan.
Drama 1953 136 mins Director: Yasujirō Ozu
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Documentary 1996 52 mins Director: Nagisa Oshima
Archive propels argument in this fascinating exploration of the social and cultural importance of Japan's film heritage.
Documentary 1985 92 mins Director: Wim Wenders
Profiling one of the great directors of World Cinema, Wim Wenders delivers this moving portrait of Japanese auteur Yasujiro Ozu.
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.
Period drama 1954 125 mins Director: Kenji Mizoguchi
Mizoguchi’s historical epic is among the greatest of all Japanese films, and a masterpiece of humanist cinema.
Featuring Hideko Takamine
Featuring Masayuki Mori
Romance 1953 97 mins Director: Kenji Mizoguchi
Kenji Mizoguchi's haunting evocation of a feudal world where brutal realism intermingles with the supernatural.
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.
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Drama 2018 89 mins Director: Mark Jenkin
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Biopic 2008 113 mins Director: Paolo Sorrentino
Giulio Andreotti, arguably the most famous and notorious Italian politician of the post-war era, was Prime Minister in his country no less than seven times. Accused of corruption and Mafia involvement, this is far from stodgy history.
Drama 2014 96 mins Director: Abderrahmane Sissako
Living in the sand dunes just outside the city of Timbuktu, a cattle herder and his wife find their peaceful existence disturbed by forces attempting to dictate their lifestyle.
Drama 1982 109 mins Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Jeanne Moreau plays a jaded brothel madam caught up in the violent sexual awakening of Brad Davis' naïve young sailor in Fassbinder's fever dream of subversive eroticism.
Drama 2004 113 mins Director: Michael Haneke
A literary TV chat-show host (Daniel Auteuil) discovers the drawbacks to celebrity when he and his wife (Juliette Binoche) start receiving anonymous messages in the form of videos of their home and naively violent drawings.