Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Tokyo Knights

Extemplary Cuffmail

(All images are iPhone photos taken of frames of the film playing from the Arrow Blu-ray.)


Kōji Matsubara (Kōji Wada) is the scion of a construction syndicate in Suzuki's 1961 color film Tokyo Knights [Tōkyō knight]. His father was chucked off a cliff. Kōji studied for a time in America then returned to Japan to finish high-school at a Catholic prep called Elizabeth. He graduates from one school club audition to the next, excelling in each and surpassing every student member, before settling at last in the music club, instructed by an American of the Beat vein who praises Kōji's natural dynamics with an earnest: "Sugeiiii."

His mother kind-of-loves a man, Mishima (Nobuo Kaneko), whom she doesn't want to suspect killed Kōji's father. Mother and Kōji are, let's figure, twenty years apart, with he being 17. (No relation, as one might by now begin to infer, with the Kōji Wada pop-star of Digimon fame who, like our Kōji, also died at the mature age of 42.) The Ozu theme of younger-motherhood and son-love snakes around in the background, but it's Mom's best friend who wants to make a move on the shachō-to-be: "How does my kimono look?" before greeting him; then: "There's no way [the company] will work out well if [Kōji] gets married, you know..."

About the cufflinks, then I'll wrap this up: One was discovered at the site of Kōji's father's death; he was pushed off a rocky crag. The Tokutake Syndicate did cahoots with Matsubara. Tokutake-san and Mishima (proxy-Matsubara head while Kōji's still distracted at school) tried to rig the bid for a roadworks contract. Tokutake hands out these prize cufflinks to his capi.

On-and-on it goes to the end, culminating (nearly) in a spectacular noh-stage set-piece in which Suzuki finally gets to let it rip a little. Above immediate stagecraft the poker-faces of feelings — an indistinguishability between men and women lovers in genre Japanese '60s milieux, beyond a prowess for the wielding of (inherited) power and the feigned acquiescence to the palanquin and the pretty face — nevertheless still preside.



More writing at Cinemasparagus on the films of Seijun Suzuki:

8-jikan no kyōfu [8 Hours' Terror, 1957]

Ankokugai no bijo [Underworld Beauty, 1958]

Fumi hazushita hara [Trampled Springtime, 1958]

Kage naki koe [Voice Without a Shadow, 1958]

"Jûsan-gô taihisen," yori: Sono gosôsha (w)o nerae ["Sidetrack No. Thirteen," or: Take Aim at That Police Van, 1960]

Kemono no nemuri [The Sleep of the Beast, 1960]

Mikkō 0 Line [0-Line Stowaway, 1960]

Subete ga kurutteru [Everything Goes Wrong, 1960]

Tōkyō knight [Tokyo Knights, 1961]

Tōge (w)o wataru wakai kaze [Youthful Wind Crossing the Mountain Pass, 1961]

High-teen yakuza [Late-Teen Yakuza, 1962]

Yajû no seishun [Youth of the Beast, 1963]

Akutarō [The Bastard / The Badboy, 1963]

Akutarō-den: Warui hoshi no shita demo [Stories of Bastards: Even Under a Bad Star / Stories of Badboys: Even Under a Bad Star, 1965]


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