Michiyo Yasuda as Tanizaki's Naomi
Michiyo Yasuda as Naomi (Daiei Kadokawa Pictures)

Chijin no Ai (Japan, 1967)

Chijin no Ai (知人の愛) is based on the 1924 novel of the same name by renowned author Junichiro Tanizaki. It is one of several adaptions of Tanizaki stories dealing with unorthodox relationships and sexual obsession that were directed by Yasuzo Masumura in the 1960s and 1970s. Two other notable examples are Manji (, 1964) and Irezumi (刺青, 1966).

The film’s story takes place in a contemporary setting, like Masumura’s adaption of Manji. This is clear from the very first frames, which show a power station that is definitely postwar and not from the 1920s. The course of the story in its new time frame spans from 1966 to 1967- with fashions and cars to match. The crisp, warm colour of the print brings out the bold colours of Naomi’s psychedelic wardrobe.

It starts by introducing Joji Kawai (Shoichi Ozawa)-  a quiet, serious and bespectacled middle-aged electrical engineer. His boss berates him for never joining the employees’ social activities, nor showing interest in getting married. After some prodding he admits that he did get a pet cat.

When he gets home that evening, he starts looking for his pet. The cat turns out to be a girl called Naomi.

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Meiko Kaji in Sasori

The Japanese New Wave Film Rebellion

Japanese New Wave cinema of the 60s and 70s was a rebellion against established styles of filmmaking. Major Japanese film studios began to promote young assistant directors to helm their own features- about young people and aimed at the youth market. These directors would deliver a kick of creative revitalisation into Japanese cinema. They would tackle challenging themes- sexuality, political radicalism, social inequality- all against the background of Japan’s postwar identity struggle. 

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Akihiro Miwa as The Black Lizard
Glamorous female impersonator and famous Japanese singer Akihiro Miwa stars as Femme Fatale thief Black Lizard.
(Shochiku Eiga/Cinevista)

Black Lizard (1968, Japan)

An effortlessly stylish, twisty and entertaining gothic suspense. This kitsch avant-garde masterpiece from Japanese auteur Kinji Fukasaku, starring female impersonator Akihiro Miwa, has to be seen to be believed!

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