Directed by Juzo Itami

Directed by Juzo Itami

12 Episodes

Maverick director Juzo Itami didn’t direct his first feature—the alternately bawdy and bittersweet satire THE FUNERAL—until the age of fifty, but it announced the arrival of a fully formed sensibility unafraid of skewering the most sensitive aspects of Japanese society. Though his follow-up, the rapturous “ramen western” TAMPOPO, would become his biggest international hit, it is only one jewel in a remarkably rich filmography that abounds in funny, sensual, and surreal pleasures. Frequently built around strong women—almost always embodied by his regular leading lady and real-life wife, the indomitable Nobuko Miyamoto—Itami’s films take bold, iconoclastic aim at everything from corporate corruption (A TAXING WOMAN) to mortality (THE LAST DANCE). With his incendiary yakuza spoof THE GENTLE ART OF JAPANESE EXTORTION, Itami may have succeeded too well; the film’s blockbuster success made the director a target of violent yakuza retaliation—and allegedly played a role in his mysterious death at age sixty-four.

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Directed by Juzo Itami
  • The Funeral

    Episode 1

    Directed by Juzo Itami • 1984 • Japan
    Starring Nobuko Miyamoto, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Chishu Ryu

    It’s death, Japanese style, in the rollicking and wistful first feature from maverick writer-director Juzo Itami. In the wake of her father’s sudden passing, a successful actor (Itami’s wife and frequent...

  • Tampopo

    Episode 2

    Directed by Juzo Itami • 1985 • Japan

    The tale of an eccentric band of culinary ronin who guide the widow of a noodle-shop owner on her quest for the perfect recipe, this rapturous "ramen western" by Japanese director Juzo Itami is an entertaining, genre-bending adventure underpinned by a deft...

  • A Taxing Woman

    Episode 3

    Directed by Juzo Itami • 1987 • Japan
    Starring Nobuko Miyamoto, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Masahiko Tsugawa

    Certainly the most exuberantly entertaining film ever made about the intricacies of the Japanese tax system, this delightful comedy stars Nobuko Miyamoto as a fiercely dedicated tax collector who g...

  • A Taxing Woman’s Return

    Episode 4

    Directed by Juzo Itami • 1988 • Japan
    Starring Nobuko Miyamoto, Rentaro Mikuni, Masahiko Tsugawa

    Nobuko Miyamoto returns to the role of Ryoko Itakura, the tough-as-nails government tax investigator whom you most definitely don’t want to cross, in Juzo Itami’s energetic, genre-twisting follow-up ...

  • Tales of a Golden Geisha

    Episode 5

    Directed by Juzo Itami • 1990 • Japan
    Starring Nobuko Miyamoto, Masahiko Tsugawa, Hiroshi Ohkochi

    This thorny sex satire stars the great Nobuko Miyamoto (star of nearly all of director Juzo Itami’s films) as Nayoko, a good-hearted geisha who brings luck to the men she sleeps with—even though mos...

  • The Gentle Art of Japanese Extortion

    Episode 6

    Directed by Juzo Itami • 1992 • Japan
    Starring Nobuko Miyamoto, Yasuo Daichi, Takehiro Murata

    An upscale Japanese hotel hires Mahiru (Nobuko Miyamoto), a lawyer adept at dealing with the yakuza, to help them rid their hotel of the local gangsters so they can get a contract for a meeting of impor...

  • The Last Dance

    Episode 7

    Directed by Juzo Itami • 1993 • Japan
    Starring Rentaro Mikuni, Masahiko Tsugawa, Nobuko Miyamoto

    Director Juzo Itami applies his unfailingly light touch to that most serious of topics—death—in this slyly self-reflexive, bittersweet comedy. Buhei Mukai (Rentaro Mikuni) is a successful Japanese mo...

  • A Quiet Life

    Episode 8

    Directed by Juzo Itami • 1995 • Japan
    Starring Atsuro Watanabe, Hinako Saeki, Masayuki Imai

    Based on a novel by Nobel prizewinner Kenzaburo Oe (the brother-in-law of director Juzo Itami) this radically empathetic melodrama—inspired by the story of the writer’s own children—evokes the world of a ...

  • Supermarket Woman

    Episode 9

    Directed by Juzo Itami • 1996 • Japan
    Starring Masahiko Tsugawa, Nobuko Miyamoto, Ryunosuke Kaneda

    In this vibrant comedy, failing supermarket manager Goro (Masahiko Tsugawa) hires Hanako (Nobuko Miyamoto), an old classmate, to help him compete with the new rival grocery store in town. Soon, Han...

  • Woman in Witness Protection

    Episode 10

    Directed by Juzo Itami • 1997 • Japan
    Starring Nobuko Miyamoto, Masahiko Nishimura, Yuji Murata

    Juzo Itami’s final film features a dazzling performance from his wife and frequent leading lady Nobuko Miyamoto as Biwako, a middle-aged movie-star diva who is the sole witness to a grisly murder. Whe...

  • Rubber Band Pistol

    Episode 11

    Directed by Juzo Itami • 1962 • Japan

    Jûzô Itami’s debut short film RUBBER BAND PISTOL concerns the various activities of a group of friends.

  • Creative Marriages: Juzo Itami & Nobuko Miyamoto

    Episode 12

    This director-actor duo collaborated on a string of genre-bending films anchored by fiercely independent women.