PhilaMOCA is showing obscure Japanese films never before released in the U.S.

"Samurai Pirate" is a Sinbad-style adventure epic.
“Samurai Pirate” is a Sinbad-style adventure epic.

The Unknown Japan series, presenting rare Japanese films which have never been released in the U.S. on any format, is in its sixth season. But for curator and PhilaMOCA director Eric Bresler, the fascination with Japanese film dates back much further.

“It was the first realm of international cinema that I ever sat down and studied seriously,” Bresler says. “That goes way back to high school and watching boutique VHS label releases of Japanese films. Film for film I’ve always found it to be the most enriching of all world cinemas.”

Through the biannual Unknown Japan series, Bresler brings the fruits of his particular obsession to Philadelphia audiences. While some might take such an opportunity to binge on some of the extremely odd fare that the country has been known to produce, Bresler aims for a more wide-ranging sampling of its cinematic output. “The whole idea of the series is to introduce both Japanese movie lovers and the uninitiated to this worthwhile world of cinema,” he explains. “So the films are obscure and they’re rare, but I also always make sure that they’re accessible.”

The current six-week series runs the gamut from 1950s family fare, to late-’60s new wave romance, to a contemporary commercial film about collegiate time travelers. While he purposely programs with diversity in mind as far as genres and time periods, Bresler keeps the season in mind for both his summer and winter series. The series began with “Summer Time Machine Blues” (2005), and will end with 1968’s “Farewell to the Summer Light,” set during the end of summer as the season transitions into fall.

In between, the fare tends toward brighter, happier themes. “Peach Boy” is a 1956 family film with puppetry, talking animals and musical numbers. “Summer Garden” (1994) is a heart-warming coming-of-age story, while “Samurai Pirate” (1963) features legendary actor Toshiro Mifune in a Sinbad-style adventure epic. The series’ strangest entry is “The Drifting Classroom,” an English-language film by cult director Nobuhiko Obayashi of “House” fame starring Troy Donahue.

“It all adds up to this really strange, awkward film that has a lot of director Obayashi’s typical off-the-wall special effects,” Bresler says. “And like all his films, even his goriest horror films, there’s a real heart to the film which you don’t expect.”

Unknown Japan 6
Wednesdays, through Sept. 11, 7:30 p.m.
PhilaMOCA
531 N. 12th St.
Free
www.philamoca.org



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Local

K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.

National

Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.

National

Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

NBA

NBA great LeBron James sends 800 cupcake apologies…

By Kim PalmerCLEVELAND (Reuters) - NBA star LeBron James, whose recent return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in his home state of Ohio sparked a frenzy…

NFL

Jerry Reese confident with Giants, skipping countdown clocks…

Last year, Giants GM Jerry Reese installed a countdown clock in the locker room to inspire Big Blue to play in their own stadium for Super Bowl XLVIII.

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.