Category Features

The Eyes Have It: The Vengeance Cinema of Kaji Meiko

Note: this feature presents Japanese names in the traditional fashion of family name first, followed by given name. Japanese language film titles and genres are presented in italics for ease of reading


Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion and Stray Cat Rock: Delinquent Girl Boss, both discussed below, are currently available on BFI Player as part of the Japan 2020 season


An entire feature could be written on Kaji Meiko’s signature stare.

Expressing an ocean of fury and recrimination, that “look” is evident in the Japanese actress’ two most famous films, 1972’s Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion and 1973’s Lady Snowblood.

But, there is more to Kaji Meiko than a glare so glacial it ices blood in the veins...

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BFI Japan 2020’s Classics Collection – 5 Must-See Movies

Hideko Takamine in When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (1960)

BFI Player is currently playing host to the excellent Japan 2020 season.

Its Japanese Classics collection showcases great movies from the Golden Ages of the 1930s and 1950s, the post-war generation who shook the system from the 1960s onward, plus the filmmakers who came to prominence in the 1980s and 1990s.

Spanning multiple genres, the collection contains some of the best films ever made. Choosing five you should start with was tough.

But, here is a quintet of movies we think provide a good introduction to the collection…


For more information on BFI Japan 2020, click here

To view Japan 2020 on BFI Player, click here


FLOATING CLOUDS (1955)

We make no apologies for this being the first of two M...

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Family Matters – Alexander Jacoby Discusses Yasujiro Ozu

Yasujiro Ozu on set

The BFI Player Japan 2020 season continues in June with a collection dedicated to Yasujiro Ozu, joining fantastic collections on Akira Kurosawa and Classic Japanese movies.

A giant of Japanese cinema, Ozu made 54 films before succumbing to cancer on his 60th birthday in 1963. The BFI Player collection will feature 25 of the 36 surviving Ozu movies, by far the most that have been made available on VOD.

The collection includes the numerous masterworks Ozu made, including Early Spring, his final movie An Autumn Afternoon and his most famous film, Tokyo Story. The latter has appeared in the top 10 of Sight and Sound’s Greatest Films of All Time polls since 1992. In 2012 it placed no...

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Japan 2020’s Akira Kurosawa Collection – 5 Must-See Movies


For more information on BFI Japan 2020, click here

To view Japan 2020 on BFI Player, click here


BFI Player’s Japan 2020 season is now live, with two first rate collections to keep you occupied during lockdown. One focusses on Japan’s most famous filmmaker, Akira Kurosawa, and features 21 films from the 30 he made in a career spanning six decades. The other showcases classics of Japanese cinema across the decades – click here for details on that one.

People most likely know the name, but as the years tick by the audience for Kurosawa’s films inevitably dwindles. Which makes Japan 2020’s collection essential… for many reasons.

Chiefly, Kurosawa movies are dazzling. As important, they still seem fresh and accessible to modern eyes.

Kurosawa was the first ...

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BFI Player launches Japan 2020 in May



Japan 2020, a six month event showcasing over 100 years of Japanese cinema, is live now on BFI Player.

Collections on Akira Kurosawa and classic Japanese movies are available to watch, with more to follow in June through October.

The Tokyo Olympics are postponed until 2021, and possibly beyond. The chances of travelling to and from the Isle of Wight let alone Japan this year are wobbly. So, the fact the BFI are going ahead with the season is great news in a miserable time.

Safely escape lockdown for £4.99 a month (and two weeks free trial) by journeying through over one hundred years of Japanese cinema from the comfort of your living room.

Classics of Japan’s Golden Age and films that rocked the studio system...

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Saigon Metalhood – Inside Vietnamese Heavy Metal

If you want to rock down while you lockdown, we recommend a heavy dose of Saigon Metalhood. A documentary about the Vietnamese heavy metal scene since the 1970s, it uncovers a musical movement little known outside the country and one that receives little love from within.

Divided into three sections, Saigon Metalhood takes a past, present and future view of the country’s metal scene and key players.

We meet Trung Thanh Sago, who has flown the metal flag since the 1970s when the country was at war, and still fronts his band Sagometal. Trung Loki is another pioneer, again pushing a music genre largely unloved by a population who favour the synth stylings of K-pop...

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Shudder Sunday

For those of us social distancing alone, technology is not only a conduit to reaching friends and family, it often becomes a friend or cool cousin. When lockdown rules are relaxed, it will be interesting for us lone stay-at-homers to mingle with real people again, rather than exclusively talking to faces on Zoom. I foresee awkwardness.

Technology, specifically a Roku box and my TV, enabled me to spend last Sunday with Shudder, immersing myself in independent horror cinema. By independent I don’t mean cheap, but rather imaginative, surprising and exhilarating film making.

No, Shudder are not paying me or offering a free subscription to write this. To prove it, on the Roku box cast and director details are not listed for any of the movies...

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Insidious: In praise of a perfect jump scare

Something wicked this way comes in Insidious…

WARNING: This feature discusses a key shock point in 2010’s Insidious. If you have not seen Insidious, we strongly urge you to do so before reading on. As of the publish date, in the UK the film and its sequels are available on Netflix. 


The jump scare. Cinema’s poor cousin to carefully crafted dread and suspense. Why go for atmosphere when a shrieky-faced banshee in a fright wig jumping out the shadows, while a migraine of violins crashes onto the soundtrack, will get you a decent scream?

Many films are guilty of walking this lazy path. Two that always stand out for us are 2012’s The Woman in Black and 2016’s The Conjuring 2. They should have known better…

Yet, when done well, the jump scare is a feat of filmmak...

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Greyhound: In praise of a great trailer

Watch the trailer, then submerge yourself in our thoughts…

Enforced isolation can find you doing funny things. Sure, you meant to start penning that script, or picking up that clarinet, or painting that pastoral view from a cherished childhood memory. But, if you’re anything like me you find yourself watching the trailer for Tom Hanks’ upcoming World War 2 actioner Greyhound on continuous loop.

Maybe it’s because in these worrying times we will cling to any semblance of security, and who better to side with than Hollywood’s nicest man™, Tom Hanks? Not only did he (spoiler) save Private Ryan and deliver all that mail (eventually), he and wife Rita Wilson were the first high-profile stars to contract COVID-19. And thankfully, they beat it, recently returning to the US from ...

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Director’s Cut – Sam Ashurst Talks A Little More Flesh

Actors Elf Lyon & Hazel Townsend and writer/director Sam Ashurst

Back in 2018, we were lucky enough to talk with director Sam Ashurst about his debut feature, Frankenstein’s Creature. That film is a singular experience and left us excited for what Ashurst would deliver next.

We are happy to report then that his follow-up film, A Little More Flesh, does not disappoint. A dazzling black comedy whose laughs often freeze in the throat, it tackles issues around the abuse of women in the film industry, and skewers the once-tacitly approved view of directors’ unacceptable behaviour as simply being artists at work.

A film-within-a-film movie, A Little More Flesh unfolds as a director recording an audio commentary for his first feature, a once-banned slice of 70s porn entitled God’s L...

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