Criterion sent their monthly newsletter out today, which means another one of their “wacky drawings” that hints at an upcoming title. This one is a simple pun: the image seen here is a “pail” of “flower”, hence Pale Flower. Read on to find out why you should care about this badass Japanese gangster movie from the 60’s.
Director Masahiro Shinoda is one of the biggest names from the Japanese New Wave, alongside Shohei Imamura and Nagisa Oshima. Shinoda was born into privilege in the 30’s, became jaded after the war, and dedicated his artistic life to finding how Japanese culture brought itself into ruin by getting into and losing WWII.
His breakthrough film, Pale Flower, finds a yazuka freshly-released from jail only to find his gang has merged with their main rival. He falls for a gambler with a face to kill for. Shinoda likes to encapsulate Pale Flower as “a day in the life of an assassin”. It’s a great film that stands up well on its own in addition to the historical importance it holds relative to the yazuka films that would follow it.
Lincoln Center played a newly-struck print of Pale Flower recently, and Shinoda visited Criterion’s offices in New York as seen in this video on the Criterion Facebook page:
Shinoda’s Double Suicide and Samurai Spy are his only other films in The Criterion Collection, but hopefully this means there is more of his work to come sooner than later.
Have a favorite Shinoda movie you want to see Criterion release, or do you think I’m a total assclown whose guess is off base? Either way, light us up with comments.