New Release Reviews

Blu-Ray Review: Pale Flower (Criterion)

There’s something uncomfortable in the way that gangster films often ask us to empathise with central characters who are, in effect, psychopaths. ‘Anti’ and ‘heroic’ are separated by a very thin line as the movie gangster is made of sterner stuff than us mere mortals, seemingly existing in a place once removed from normality; a […]

Feature Lost Classic

Flowers of evil in Cold War Japan: Masahiro Shinoda’s Pale Flower

Pale Flower (Kawaita hana, 1964), set in the yakuza milieu, questions the codes of Japanese gangsters and subverts the gangster codes of the films that flooded the Japanese film market in the early 1960s. It deals with obsessive love but replaces the carnal element with gambling. Shinoda’s film harks back to Charles Baudelaire’s volume of poetry, Les Fleurs du Mal (The […]