Simply put the story of this film could be said to be the Japanese answer to Rebel Without a Cause. However the film is quite different from "Rebel" in a number of ways. The graphic violence of the film is unflinching and its frank display of sexuality could be seen as socially liberating. The two youth at this time in Japan are frankly very angry and confused as many young people are. They just want to do 2 things... drink and fuck. These teenagers drown their anger in self destructive acts of sex and drinking. Their anger is often directed at the older generations of Japan, mainly their parents and older siblings. They are frustrated with what they see as a lack of initiative in their parents and siblings to truly incite social change in the newly democratic world of post-war japan. The youth don't both dreaming of a better life because they can't see anything good in a this wasteland of quick thrills and misery, the adults have gotten sick of dreaming and have resigned to their miserable fate. The non existent morals of the youth stems from their disillusionment with democracy and lack of faith in their elders. They indulge pure pleasure and violence as a way to feel alive, ripping off old men, fucking, getting in fights and drinking, it is the only way they feel free. The slums of Japan in this film are surrounded with protesting college students, bemoaning what they see as the Government of Japan's kowtowing to foreign countries. I also can't help ,but notice obvious similarities in the way the youth of sixties Japan and young adults in America today treat women. Women are treated by the men as mere objects for sex and the men stay emotionally distant. Rather than emotions and physicals acts of love, the men are only out for pleasure, debasing the feelings emotions feelings of the women and treating them as sex dolls. Overall this is a very interesting film that was the begin of Oshima's focus on controversial themes that lead him to seek funding for his films outside of Japan.
To say this is a weird film is putting it mildly. Suzuki's avant-garde satire is one confusing ride. It manages to satire assassin stories, James bond and pop culture in general. The femme fatale archetype and the cold assassin are both parodied to interesting effect. You have an assassin who is more interested in cooking rice than having sex with oversexed wife and ridiculously hilarious scenes of carnage and destruction. A man on fire, running out of a screaming building is made hilarious rather than brutal. Butterflies adorn the walls of the femme fatale's home and the assassins are all obsessed with a meaningless ranking system. Goofy, bloody and near incomprehensible, Branded to Kill is a fun time and a very good film, one which I plan to re-watch at some point.
I am a huge fan of Ozu and this one is his first sound film and often considered one of his best. I was a bit disappointed in this one honestly. The content was less interesting than most Ozu films. It concerns a mother who worked and suffered to get her young son through school, instead of telling him to give up school and work with her. The woman visits her son 15 years later and finds out that he is little more than a night school math teacher and has a wife and baby son. The film deals with disappointment, sacrifice and love. The disappointment of the son, of what he has become. The sacrifice of the mother to get her son through school and the love they both still share so many years later. The film does offer some poignant moments, such as when the son helps out a poor woman with hospital bills for her son, but the film does not capture the attention as well as other Ozu's. I honestly don't really have much more to say about this. Good ,but a minor Ozu imo.
I don't have as much to say about this film as I did about the others. It probably was due to the fact that I watched it when I was really tired... The film is about a bunch of gangster pig farmers living near a U.S military base in Japan and their brutal methods used to survive in an increasingly desperate part of Japan. The American Sailors take advantage of the locals for their own amusement and many of the Japanese women have to essentially become sex dolls to make enough money to survive in post-war Japan. Even though the movie is about the lower members of society the film has some unexpectedly tender moments between characters, such as the often erratic ,but sometimes wonderful relationship between the minor gangster protagonist and his pregnant and willful girlfriend. The pigs could be seen as a symbol of the American sailors dirtying up parts of Japan and essentially turning these small cities into one pig style. The film pulls no punches with depicting the poor members of Japanese society and is often erratic and lively in its own style. The gangsters are generally portrayed as cowards who force innocents to pay them protection money and are unwilling to own up to their actions. The police are portrayed as equally morally bankrupt as they cow tow to the dominating nature of the American sailors. Overall it is very interesting study of lower post war Japan, I just wish I was awake enough to enjoy it more.