The Naked Island + Kuroneko

The Naked Island – 8:00pm
“Gorgeously shot in wide-screen black-and-white…once seen it is not easily forgotten — the myth of Sisyphus transposed to Tahiti.” — J. Hoberman, The Village Voice

Exhilarating, heartwrenching and so tangible you’ll feel the soil under your own fingernails and the sun on your brow, The Naked Island is one of the most emotionally satisfying Japanese films you’ve never seen — from any decade, past or present — and is simply one of Kaneto Shindo’s greatest works. Filmed on a nearly deserted archipelago, and told with almost no dialogue whatsoever, this landmark docudrama tone poem in the tradition of Robert Flaherty charts one year in the life of a poor farming family who must continually reach out to neighboring islands in order to subsist. “Daily chores, captured as a series of cyclical events, result in a hypnotising, moving, and beautiful film harkening back to the silent era.” (Masters of Cinema) Anchored by a stoic, moving lead performance by Nobuko Otowa and a haunting score by regular Shindo collaborator Hikaru Hayashi, The Naked Island is a pure poignant wallop. DO NOT MISS IT.
Dir. Kaneto Shindo, 1960, 35mm, 96 min.

Kuroneko – 9:45pm
More overtly supernatural than Onibaba, and more delicately operatic as well, Kuroneko is Kaneto Shindo’s second triumph of superb horror filmmaking set during the feudal reign of the samurai. Stories about nekomata (ghost cats) were among the most popular tales in Japanese horror of the ‘50s and ‘60s, and this creepy, emotionally-charged nekomata tale (loosely based on the time-honored folktale “The Cat’s Return”) centers around two peasant women who, after being raped and killed by a band of samurai, seek revenge as cat-like spirits who lure soldiers in with sex, then pounce and maul them to death. Painting a grimly realistic portrait of a “noble” soldier class using a firmly anti-war brush, mixing it with a harrowing tale of fate and wrapping it all up in an evocative B&W package, Kuroneko is a stark horror classic steeped in its nation’s chilling history.
Dir. Kaneto Shindo, 1968, 35mm, 95 min.

Watch the trailer for “The Naked Island”!

Watch the trailer for “Kuroneko”!
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