Thursday, December 27, 2007

Yasuzo Masumura's Black Test Car (1962)

"In 1996, 84-year-old Michelangelo Antonioni left his sick bed to attend the 10-day retrospective of Masumura’s films in Rome. Antonioni told reporters that Masumura had always been one of his personal favorites among world-class directors." (from the Fantoma DVD bio).

If you're a film buff, you should have heard of Yasuzo Masumura by now. If you're a Criterion Collection fan, you should have heard of Fantoma DVD.

Fantoma DVD presents films with a level of quality and care (and extras) that consistently match Criterion's.

Yasuzo Masumura is a Japanese director from the same era as Seijun Suzuki and has in common his personal artistic approach to genre pictures.
While Criterion (and their cousin Home Vision Entertainment) have championed Seijun Suzuki's films, releasing many on DVD, it is Fantoma that has championed the equally deserving Yasuzo Masumura, lavishing as much care on the releases of his films as Criterion has on Suzuki's.

Already a big fan of Masumura, I was excited to find a new Fantoma release of yet another Yasuzo Masumura film, Black Test Car (1962). Happily it's on Netflix, and I've already queued it up. So far I had seen all of Fantoma's Masumura films. I think Afraid to Die (1960) is the place to start, and if I haven't enticed you on Masumura, it features a lead-role performance by Yukio Mishima!

For me Red Angel (1966) would be up next, an incredible World War II film. After that I like Manji (1964), Giants & Toys (1958) (not quite as amazing as its fantastic premise, but still well worth watching) and finally Blind Beast (1969).

For the uninitiated, I highly
recommend taking the Masumura/Fantoma leap now and rushing to watch Black Test Car with me, or start with one of the others! You can't go wrong.

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