Kisses / Giants and Toys [aka The Build-Up]

Director: Masumura Yasuzo

Japan| 1957. English subtitles. Black and white. Anamorphic. 74 min.

Masumura’s debut feature, with its stripped-down narrative and hand-held camerawork, sent a shock wave through Japanese cinema in much the same way as did Jean-Luc Godard’s work in Europe. With its liberated camera and even more liberated protagonists, this is the film which caused Nagisa Oshima to declare that ‘a powerful, irresistible force has arrived in Japanese cinema.’ A young boy and girl meet while visiting their respective fathers in prison. The young lovers soon embrace both each other and their mutual alienation. Shrugging off their responsibilities, they jump on a motorbike and head for the beach . . .
Showing first in a double-bill with Giants and Toys.Using the same cast as Kisses, and similarly shooting in glorious ‘Scope, Masumura fashioned this eye-popping critique of Japan’s post-war ‘economic miracle’. A young woman is plucked from poverty-stricken obscurity to become the public face of a sweet manufacturer. As rival companies vie for space in a cutthroat market, the young Eliza Doolittle has her image made over by a porn photographer. Very soon she begins to lose herself in a shady quagmire of corporate duplicity and espionage. Japan, 1958. English subtitles. Colour. Anamorphic. 95 min.

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