Directed by Seijun Suzuki • 1981 • Japan
Starring Yusaku Matsuda, Michiyo Yasuda, Eriko Kusuta
After over a decade in the wilderness following his firing from Nikkatsu, maverick director Seijun Suzuki returned with a vengeance with the Taisho Trilogy, an acclaimed triptych of cryptic supernatural dramas set during the liberal enlightenment of Japan’s Taisho Era (1912–26). In the second installment, KAGERO-ZA (“Heat-Haze Theater”), a playwright is drawn like a moth to a flame to a mysterious beauty who might be a ghost. Rarely seen outside of Japan, the films in the Taisho Trilogy are considered Suzuki’s masterpieces in his homeland. Presenting a dramatic turn from his more familiar tales of cops, gangsters and unruly youth, these surreal psychological puzzles capture the pandemonium of a bygone age of decadence and excess, when Western ideas, fashions, technologies, and art began to be assimilated into traditional Japanese culture.