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Seijun Suzuki's Tokyo Drifter

  • Sep 22, 2013 · 6:00 PM
  • Cinema Paradiso Headquarters

The studio ordered him to play it straight this time. What they got instead was a jazz fueled, insanely stylized film with a mind blowing use of color. Suzuki with his free jazz aesthetic to creating films would sadly only direct two other films before being fired and blacklisted for making what the studio heads claimed were incomprehensible films.

Tokyo Drifter's story of reformed yakuza Phoenix Tetsu trying to go straight seems to mirror Suzuki’s conflict of trying to turn the studio's run of the mill scripts into unique films as opposed to the studio demanding cookie cutter gangster films.



Release Date: April 10th, 1966

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Running Time: 82 Minutes

Country: Japan

Suzuki was hired on at Nikkatsu (Japan’s oldest studio) to make program pictures which were essentially B movies that were used to pad the second half of a double feature. Suzuki cranked out over 20 films in a space of 6 years before making what Suzuki himself called his “first truly original film” Youth of the Beast.

Tony Rayns who publish a book on the career of Suzuki explained, "In his own eyes, the visual and structural qualities of his '60s genre films sprang from a mixture of boredom ('All company scripts were so similar; if I found a single line that was original, I could see room to do something with it') and self-preservation ('Since all of us contract directors were working from identical scripts, it was important to find a way of standing out from the crowd')

Sadly studio president Kyusaku Hori didn’t see it that way. Starting a few films before Tokyo Drifter the studio started issuing warnings telling Suzuki to dial down his films. Suzuki responded by doing the opposite. After filming Branded to Kill, Suzuki was fired from Nikkatsu and blacklisted. It would be over ten years before he was able to start making films again.

This Showing will be a little more intimate than Boogie's since it will be held at the Headquarters and space is limited.

Since space is limited I appreciate some notice if possible if you have rsvp'd but are not able to attend the showing. It would allow others to rsvp who might be able to attend.

The Headquarters is in a decent area in the NE so there are many food options. I will be taking orders if any one would like any thing delivered. (Let me know in advance if you are thinking of ordering food.)

A warning for anyone with bad allergies, we do have a cat and dog residing here but the cat spends most of his time outdoors so hopefully his presence won’t be too much of a deterrent.

I look forward to seeing you there.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Organizer,
Damon




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  • Carl T.

    I realize that there was much of cinematic interest in this film. I just may be "tone deaf" to that frequency! I did see "The Third Man" many years ago, am sorry to have missed it this time around! Life has a way of catching one up on its Tilt-a-Whirl and not letting go!

    September 23, 2013

  • Carl T.

    Huge numbers of stereotypes. Many Japanese and Western cultural references. No softness or real human interest in this film. No "heart." I left early.

    September 23, 2013

    • Damon S.

      I'm sorry you didn't enjoy the film. I completely understand, his films aren't for everyone. Suzuki wasn't able to pick his scripts. In his films the plot usually takes a backseat for style. It's kind of like working at mcdonalds having these pre frozen bland items that you have to work with. Suzuki was trying to spice up his films and make what he had to work with more interesting.

      1 · September 23, 2013

    • Damon S.

      I'm sorry you missed some of the other films shown this month. I'm sure The Third Man and Rififi would have been more to your liking.

      September 23, 2013

  • Gina G.

    I didn't think I'd walk away saying that was a really funny movie.

    September 22, 2013

    • Halstead Y.

      But it kinda was - That bar fight was hilarious!

      September 23, 2013

    • Damon S.

      Suzuki went off the rails in his last handful of films. He seemed to have his tongue firmly planted in check. His next film was Fighting Elegy where his protagonist channels his sexual frustration into violence. http://www.criterion....­

      September 23, 2013

  • Halstead Y.

    Guys, it was great to meet you all! Really enjoyed the film and the discussion. Now I'm feeling a need to do a deep dive on Suzuki's films...

    September 23, 2013

    • Damon S.

      You brought up some really great points. Thanks again for coming.

      September 23, 2013

  • Kris

    Amazing film and one that would have otherwise have passed me by. Thanks Damon for showcasing this wonderful gem! An aesthetically intoxicating experience!!!

    1 · September 22, 2013

    • Damon S.

      Thank Janus and Criterion for bring Suzuki's films to the US. I don't know many companies that would touch his films.

      September 23, 2013

  • Damon S.

    Kris was asking about Suzuki's age at the time of the film. He was born in 1923 so he would have been 43.

    September 22, 2013

    • Damon S.

      Shigeyoshi Mine was the cinematographer for the film. He seemed to be a in house cinematographer for Nikkatsu. He worked on quite a few of Suzuki's films like Detective Bureau 2-3: Go to Hell Bastards, Gate of flesh, Take Aim at the Police Van, and The Bastard

      September 22, 2013

  • Damon S.

    Thank you all for coming. We had another great discussion. I hope to see you back next week for OLDBOY.

    September 22, 2013

  • Gina G.

    Great pick. Is it going to be a Seijun Suzuki 'fest? If so, I'm happy to hear it.

    September 11, 2013

    • Gina G.

      I have not.....

      September 12, 2013

    • Damon S.

      It's worth checking out if you are into the history of the Yakuza. It's based on the manuscript of a Yakuza member that he wrote in prison. It's a non glamorized look at what it was like as a postwar Yakuza.

      September 13, 2013

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