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KURO: The Dark Edge of Japanese Filmmaking

kuro-web-headerMondays at 7:00 PM beginning January 16.

CURATORIAL STATEMENT: An informal play on the American medium, Japanese Noir eschews the structure, grit and pulpiness of its original Western machinations.  Here instead, the genre pushes artistic and creative boundaries, while grappling with post-war culture change; the smoke stacks and the guns are one and the same, the Emperor has been replaced by “The Boss,” with the anticipated masculine energy containing feminine cunning and resourcefulness to further the plot with its maneuvers from vengeance to redemption.   Tough talking, hardboiled bluntness is met head on with moments of quiet, reserved and thoughtful action.

But whether it’s American or Japanese, there is always a universal feeling of isolation, a misunderstood “hero” looking for inner peace, and good people caught in bad situations.

The films delivered within this series celebrate the visionaries who saw deeper inside these stories and into their characters to offer some of the most memorable and iconic scenes of foreign cinema.

Take a walk down the steamy, sinister side streets of underworld Japan with sumptuous offerings such as PALE FLOWER and BRANDED TO KILL while casting a colorful, clandestine eye towards more modern interpretations within current day with ICHI THE KILLER and THE WORLD OF KANAKO, illustrating the lasting appeal of this genre, its evolution and how the characters have reached almost mythic proportions.

KURO: The Dark Edge of Japanese Filmmaking showcases what Noir can truly feel like outside its own preconceived notions, wrestling with the cultural “who” by breathing new life into what have become tropes in its American film equivalent and offering a unique, culturally relevant portrait of Japan, seen through a lens of shadow and depth.

All film presented in Japanese with English subtitles.

Keep checking back for updates to the schedule and potential late-breaking additions taking us on this unique, shadowy path of Japanese Noir.

Click here to view our complete online brochure for KURO: The Dark Edge of Japanese Filmmaking, exclusively at the Michigan Theater.

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Tokyo Drifter

Tokyo Drifter

Plays Monday, January 23 at 7:00 PM.

Fully restored digital cinema presentation. This pop art gangster film follows Tetsuya “Phoenix Tetsu” Hondo, who is looking forward to his forced retirement after his gang is disbanded. But when he refuses an offer he shouldn’t, what follows is a dizzying and blood-soaked 1960’s take on the wandering Samurai. Directed by Seijun Suzuki, this film, now considered a classic of the Yakuza genre, pushed Suzuki and art director Takeo Kimura even harder to craft their high-ene

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Branded to Kill

Branded to Kill

Plays Monday, January 23 at 9:30 PM.

Fully restored digital cinema presentation. Hanada (Joe Shishido), a.k.a. “No. 3 Killer,” the third-best hit man in Japanese organized crime has got a problem; the hunter has become the hunted thanks to a single missed shot. An avant-garde take on the Japanese New Wave that finds director Seijun Suzuki working at breakneck speed on what has been called a “surrealistic…nightmare” film. One that has influenced directors from John Woo to Jim Jaramusch, who even thanked

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Zero Focus

Zero Focus

Plays Monday, January 30 at 7:00 PM.

Fully restored digital cinema presentation. In director Yoshitaro Nomura’s Hitchcockian adaptation of Seicho Matsumoto’s popular Japanese mystery novel, a woman is forced to play detective in a frantic, winding and harrowing search for her missing husband. But, when the clues start to come together, the man she married may not be who he seems. Her desperate investigation sets off a chain of events that finds her final fate increasingly grim.

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A Colt is My Passport

A Colt is My Passport

Plays Monday, February 6 at 7:00 PM.

Fully restored digital cinema presentation. A hitman’s work is never done in this film from Master Director Takashi Nomura that has been hailed as one of “Japanese cinema’s supreme emulations of American noir.” Joe Shishido stars as a hard-boiled yakuza caught between rival gangs. With his trusty sidekick in tow, the two must shoot their way out if they want to live to fight another day; all complete with a stunning spaghetti western-influenced soundtrack to fully transport the

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Pigs and Battleships

Pigs and Battleships

Plays Monday, February 13 at 7:00 PM.

Fully restored digital cinema presentation. Dishonor among thieves runs rampant as the port town of Yokosuka is placed into a power play from the area rag-tag gangsters (yakuza) and the corrupt businessmen (chimpira), all looking to profit from a ravaged, post-war Japan. With the city’s residents working to make due and make sense of incoming fleets of United States naval officers, celebrated director Shohei Imamura focuses on the plight of one young couple as they fall into the tra

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Pale Flower

Pale Flower

Plays Monday, February 20 at 7:00 PM.

35mm film presentation. Released from prison, a humbled yakuza hitman navigates the shifting influence within his former criminal domain. It is there he is snarled into the seduction of a stunning woman, a sybarite dead set on igniting life at the edge of danger. Gambling with their passion, the two plunge together into the shadowy depths at the hands of acclaimed director MASAHIRO SHINODA. In a film adapted by the director from the pulp novel of SHINTARÔ ISHIHARA, the dark, sleek r

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A Fugitive from the Past

A Fugitive from the Past

Plays Monday, February 27 at 7:00 PM.

Imported 35mm film presentation. This decade-spanning, epic thriller of a heist gone wrong follows a lone surviving thief as he evades the law, going into desperate hiding with a prostitute. This cover allows retribution for them both into society, but at disastrous costs as the detectives pursue the crime and its story unravels with time.

From director Tomu Uchida, this feature swept the Mainichi Film Concours for that year, including Best Director and Screenplay for the adap

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Dragnet Girl

Dragnet Girl

Plays Monday, March 6 at 7:00 PM.

SPECIAL SILENT FILM PRESENTATION W/ JAPANESE BENSHI ICHIRO KATAOKA and ELECTRONIC DJ ARWULF!

35mm film presentation. The life of career criminal Jôji takes a possible turn at redemption when he crosses paths with a delinquent initiate well-intentioned sister, Kazuko. Her innocent apprehension for her brother arouses curious attraction in Jôji, while inciting a dangerous triangle of jealousy with his current bawd lover.

Direct from Japan, be part of this unique screening eve

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Ichi the Killer

Ichi the Killer

Plays Monday, March 13 at 7:00 PM.

Digital cinema presentation. Love is painful and NOT for the faint of heart. Warring yakuza clans pit crime bosses against one another through deception and rumor. At the center of it all is the homicidal, unhinged Ichi. Warped by the rival gangs and their desire for ultimate power, Ichi is seduced by their psychological manipulation that catapults him into an enraged spree of pop art assassinations, in search for redemption and answers for his life.

Based from the acclaimed manga of HIDE

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The World of Kanako

The World of Kanako

Digital cinema presentation. An aimless, irresponsible cop is pulled into sharp focus by the sudden, inexplicable disappearance of his teenage daughter. His search for clues leads him into chilling detail of an alternate realities with whom he believed his loved one to actually be, but will stop at no cost as a father to find her and the truth.

The film is the latest from the internationally award-winning TETSUYA NAKASHIMA, adapted from the best-selling mystery novel of AKIO FUKAMACHI, where noir is evolved from the undergr

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