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October 15, 2021

Hanagatami (Dir. Nobuhiko Obayashi, 2017)

Time: 7:30pm

Location: 2220 Arts + Archives

Address: 2220 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90057

Los Angeles premiere! Co-presented by the Yanai Initiative for Globalizing Japanese Humanities. Part three of Tragedies of Youth: Nobuhiko Obayashi’s War Trilogy.

*Join us after the screening for a reception in the 2220 Arts + Archives lounge, featuring drink specials and live music by DJ Tsugu Itagaki!*

After being diagnosed with stage four lung cancer at the age of 80 and given six months to live, Nobuhiko Obayashi set out to fulfill his filmmaking dream: an adaptation of a 1937 novella by Kazuo Dan that the director had originally hoped to make even before his legendary debut House in 1977.

 

In the spring of 1941, wide-eyed 17-year-old Toshihiko Sakakiyama (Shunsuke Kubozuka) arrives in the coastal town of Karatsu in Saga Prefecture and befriends a group of teenage classmates who fall in love, quarrel and stumble through their remaining days of youth as war looms on the horizon. An extravagantly stylized epic that makes the most of green screens, elaborate lighting and dizzying editing, Obayashi’s passion project and swan song is a grand culmination of the great director’s dazzling visual style and a poignant reminder of the tragedy of war for this generation.

 

Although [Obayashi's] subject is youth, these are autumnal works, a spirited eye tempered with the wisdom of a long life.

Pat Padua, Spectrum Culture

A ghost story folded into a town portrait, dotted with romance and history lessons, [Casting is] a stylistic, emotional balancing act unlike anything else you’re likely to see. 

Robert Abele, The Los Angeles Times

Seven Weeks pulses with more hot-blooded vitality and audacity than most films by [Obayashi’s] younger compatriots.

Don Brown, The Asahi Shimbun

[Hanagatami is] ultimately a cautionary plea to avoid the perils of the past, in the form of an auteurist fever dream.

Siddhant Adlakha, The Village Voice

[Hanagatami's] nearly three hours of dense story-telling roll by while a sprawling and vividly drawn cast of characters explore young love and the meaning of life.

Deborah Young, The Hollywood Reporter

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October 29 - November 4, 2021

Labyrinth of Cinema (Dir. Nobuhiko Obayashi, 2019)

Time: TBA

Location: Lumiere Music Hall

Address: 9036 Wilshire Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211

Exclusive Los Angeles theatrical engagement!

The final film by Nobuhiko Obayashi finds the late director returning to the subject of Japan’s history of warfare following the completion of his “War Trilogy,” which ended with Hanagatami. On the last night of its existence, a small movie theater in Onomichi—the seaside town of Obayashi’s youth where he shot nearly a dozen films—screens an all-night marathon of Japanese war films. When lightning strikes the theater, three young men are transported into the world onscreen where they experience the violent battles of several wars leading up to the bombing of Hiroshima.

 

A breathless cinematic journey through Japan’s past, Labyrinth of Cinema finds Obayashi using every trick in his book to create an awe-inspiring, visually resplendent anti-war epic that urges us to consider cinema as a means to change history. The culmination of an exceptional 60-year career worth celebrating. Born in Hiroshima in 1938, Nobuhiko Obayashi was a director, screenwriter and editor of films and television advertisements. He began his filmmaking career as a pioneer of Japanese experimental films before transitioning to directing more mainstream media, and his resulting filmography as a director spanned almost 60 years. He was notable for his distinct surreal filmmaking style, as well as the anti-war themes commonly embedded in his films. He died on 10 April 2020 at the age of 82, from lung cancer in Tokyo.

 

Nobuhiko Obayashi's opus...exuberantly shot...imaginatively edited.

Deborah Young, The Hollywood Reporter

A fitting capstone to Obayashi’s filmography, a riotous tour through various manifestations of Japanese war cinema as seen by four teenagers.

Ryan Swen, Hyperallergic

Shot and edited by Obayashi while he was receiving cancer treatment, [Labyrinth] has his characteristic blend of surreal whimsy and heartfelt emotion.

Mark Schilling, Variety

Forget a swan song: Nobuhiko Obayashi’s final film is a shriek, a tirade, a lecture and a rollicking action-adventure stuffed into a three-hour pop-art package.

Devika Girish, The New York Times

Labyrinth of Cinema has the densest diegesis of any movie made this century... Obayashi’s newest work treats the continued life of the moving image as an urgent moral question.

Evan Morgan, MUBI Notebook