Saturday, February 9, 2013

Cinema Kabuki, Feb 9-10

The Japan Foundation Toronto presents this year's edition of Cinema Kabuki beginning today. For the first time, the screenings will take place at the TIFF Bell Lightbox.

The films being screening will be Heron Maiden, Hokaibo, Murder in a Hell of Oil, and Kagotsurube. The screenings are of live productions featuring some of today's greatest Kabuki stars, which are now being filmed with the highest resolution cameras for screening in cinemas around the world on state-of-the-art digital projection systems and 6-channel sound.

Saturday, February 9
1:00 pm

Heron Maiden
(a dance performance)
Sagi Musume
Premiered in 1762
Directed for Cinema Kabuki by Hiroyuki Nakatani
Recorded live at the Kabuki-za Theatre, Tokyo, 2005
32 minutes
Subtitled in English
watch the trailer

The Heron Maiden is one of the most challenging dance roles in Kabuki. Featuring fifteen musicians on stage and dramatic costume changes amid swirling snow, the popular Heron Maiden is performed by star onnagata Tamasaburo (a male actor who specializes in female roles). Transforming himself gracefully from a white heron to a coquettish girl, the Heron Maiden is Tamasaburo's signature piece. With his extraordinarily expressive fingers - from the opening birdlike steps through to the dance's finale - Tamasaburo is unforgettable.

Saturday, February 9
2:00 pm

(a ghostly black comedy)
Premiered in 1784
Written by Shimesuke Nagawa
Directed by Kazuyoshi Kushida
Directed for Cinema Kabuki by Hiroyuki Nakatani
Recorded live at Heisei Nakamura-za Theatre, Asakusa, Tokyo, 2008
150 minutes + 15 minutes intermission
Subtitled in English
watch the trailer

Review on "Hokaibo" in The New York Times, July 19, 2007
"Guilty Pleasures of Comic Kabuki" by Charles Isherwood

Hokaibo is the haunting story of a depraved monk living amidst the din and bustle of the great city of Edo (Tokyo). Pretending to raise funds to rebuild a temple bell, Hokaibo actually spends what money he can collect pursuing women. His mind is turned not to the pious thoughts suitable to a monk, but to fantasies of a life of luxury indulging in his favourite food, drink and pleasures of the flesh. Uncontrollable desire and greed lead him to spying, deceit, theft, and even murder. Hokaibo's adventures end with his own death; his soul merges with the ghost of a long-suffering princess, creating a powerful and dangerous creature who terrorizes the people of Edo living along the Sumida River under the cherry blossoms.

Sunday, February 10
1:00 pm

Murder in a Hell of Oil
(a murder story)
Onna Goroshi Abura no Jigoku
Premiered as a Bunraku puppet play in 1721
Written by Monzaemon Chikamatsu
Premiered as a Kabuki play in 1909
Directed for Cinema Kabuki by Hiroyuki Nakatani
Recorded live at Kabuki-za Theatre, Tokyo, 2009
110 minutes
Subtitled in English
watch the trailer

Set in Osaka, the centre of commerce in 18th century Japan, Yohei, played by Nizaemon, a specialist of Kyoto/Osaka style Kabuki, is the prodigal son of an oil merchant who consumes the family fortune pursuing 'pleasures of the night'. In spite of the heartfelt concern of his mother and stepfather, Yohei will not give up. Finally cornered by loan sharks, Yohei begs Okichi, the wife of a fellow oil merchant, for money. Upon her refusal, Yohei turns into a cruel murderer. Splashes of blood and oil energize Kabuki's most spectacular murder scene.

Sunday, February 10, 2013
3:30 pm

(a story of the pleasure quarter)
Kagotsurube Sato no Eizame
Written by Shinshichi Kawatake
Premiered in 1888
Directed for Cinema Kabuki by Hiroyuki Nakatani
Recorded live at Kabuki-za Theatre, Tokyo, 2010
113 minutes
Subtitled in English
watch the trailer

On the main street of the Yoshiwara pleasure district the top courtesan Yatsuhashi makes a luxurious procession through the fully blooming cherry trees. Miraculously, she happens to smile at Jirozaemon, a country merchant in the crowd. Who would have ever imagined that this momentary encounter could be the cause of fatal mass murder? A love triangle forces the courtesan to reject her best customer in the middle of a banquet – the most dishonourable humiliation of all. Jirozaemon seizes the haunted sword Kagotsurube which inevitably invites bloodshed once it is drawn. Kanzaburo and Tamasaburo are joined by Nizaemon to form a dream cast for this Kabuki classic.

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