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Kenji Lui
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Top 10 Japanese directors of all time

Who do you think are the top 10 directors of Japanese cinema? I just finished reading a chinese book called "Top 10 of Japanse Cinema" (日本電影十大) and the authors picked 20 (yes the book title is top 10 but they actually listed the top 20) directors from the history of japanese cinema.

according to the book, the directors were chosen based on polls by several authoritative japansese cinema journals throughout the years, as well as the criteria set by the two authors. here below is the list with the masterpiece (also selected by the authors) in bracket:

  1. Akira Kurosawa 黑澤明 (Seven Samurai)

2a. Yasujiro Ozu 小津安二郎 (Late Spring)

2b. Kenji Mizoguchi 溝口健二 (Chushingura)

4a. Keisuke Kinoshita 木下惠介 (Carmen Comes Home)

4b. Kon Ichikawa 市川昆 (The Makioka Sisters)

4c. Mikio Naruse 成賴己喜男 (When a Woman Ascends the Stairs)

  1. Shohei Imamura 今村昌平 (The Insect)

  2. Masaki Kobayashi 小林正樹 (Harakiri)

9a. Yoji Yamada 山田洋次 (My Sons)

9b. Kaneto Shindo 新藤兼人 (A Last Note)

  1. Tadashi Imai 今井正 (Till We Meet Again)

  2. Satsuo Yamamoto 山本薩夫 (The Great White Tower)

  3. Tomu Uchida 內田吐夢 (Miyamoto Mushashi Series)

  4. Kinji Fukasaku 深作欣二 (Battles Without Honor and Humanity)

  5. Kei Kumai 熊井啟 (Brothel 8)

  6. Nagisa Oshima 大島者 (The Ceremony)

17a. Shiro Toyoda 豐田四郎 (Senile Person)

17b. Kozaburo Yoshimura 吉村公三郎 (The Ball at the Anjo House)

17c. Masahiro Shinoda 篠田正浩 (MacArthur's Children)

  1. Kazuo Kuroki 黑木和雄 (A Boy's Summer in 1945)

About the directors, I guess I generally agree with this list, perhaps with one or two different choices, though i was little surprised that Nagisa Oshima only gotta be 16th...

About the masterpiece, my choices are probably more different. I don't really understand how they distinguish between a "masterpiece" and a "near masteripiece", but anyway, if i choose my own list, i'd probably just choose the films i enjoy most, regardless of their cultural or social significance...so below are my choices:

Akira Kurosawa 黑澤明 (Seven Samurai)

  • same, Seven samurai is definitely the best of Kurosawa's films, probably with Ikiru and Stray Dog coming close.

Yasujiro Ozu 小津安二郎 (Good Morning)

  • i just simply love Good Morning, no reason... 2nd runner up is probably Tokyo Story.

Kenji Mizoguchi 溝口健二

  • i have to say that i am not really a fan of mizoguchi, out of the films i have seen, ugetsu and late chrysanthemum left a deeper impression, but it's just too difficult for me to choose a favorite..

Keisuke Kinoshita 木下惠介 (24 Eyes)

  • I like Carmen Comes Home, but if I have to choose, 24 Eyes is definitely a far more enjoyable film...

Kon Ichikawa 市川昆 (Burmese Harp,, 1956)

  • Honestly, I couldnt finish Makioka Sisters when i first saw it.... On the other hand, Burmese Harp is definitely one original and impressive work by Ichikawa..

Mikio Naruse 成賴己喜男

  • Again, never a fan of Naruse.. had a hard time finishing Floating Cloud and When a Woman Ascends the Stairs, though i kinda enjoy his comedies...

Shohei Imamura 今川昌平

  • It is a pity that i have only seen very few of Imamura's works, which makes it not that qualified to pick a favorite work

Masaki Kobayashi 小林正樹 (Harakiri)

  • This one I agree with the book, some of his other works I like are Kwadan, Samurai Rebellion... i have yet to check out the Human Condition trilogy! (when is criterion going to remaster it!!!?)

Yoji Yamada 山田洋次

  • Not quite a fan but the latest samurai trilogy is good work without doubt

Kaneto Shindo 新藤兼人

  • i haven't got a chance to see his most famous works yet.. but from those i saw, they are definitely good stuff...

So do you guys agree with this list? what films would you choose?

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about 15 years ago


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