"Pop! Goes Cinema."
The series highlights irrepressibly eccentric Kadokawa-produced titles like Shinji Somai's Sailor Suit and Machine Gun
(1981), a hybrid teen-rebellion/yakuza picture that pits a fearless schoolgirl (teen idol Hiroko Yakushimaru) against scruple-less drug dealers. Kadokawa's flamboyant cynicism made him an easy target for older critics and filmmakers, but he had his fingers on the pulse of Japanese pop culture in the Eighties, patronizing such important filmmakers as Nobuhiko Obayashi (House
) and Kinji Fukasaku (Battle Royale
). Japan Society's program wisely showcases Obayashi's The Little Girl Who Conquered Time
(1983), a sweet sci-fi romance following a poetry-obsessed teen who travels through time after falling in love with an alien, and Fukasaku's Virus
(1980), an ungainly international mega-production about a world-ending plague that wipes out all but around eight hundred people. The rarely screened (and newly restored) Virus
deserves special mention if only for its incredible ensemble cast, which includes Sonny Chiba, Bo Svenson, George Kennedy, Glenn Ford, and Robert Vaughn. The movie may be bloated and campy, but its unusually thoughtful, proto–World War Z
–style mosaic-tile narrative also perfectly exemplifies the infectious formal experimentalism that Kadokawa has always encouraged."Pop! Goes Cinema" runs through December 17 at Japan Society. Click here for the schedule.
Japan Society celebrates the fortieth anniversary of Kadokawa Film, enfant terrible book-publisher-turned-moviemaker Haruki Kadokawa's avant-garde studio, with the eclectic retrospective