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One of the fathers of the Japanese New Wave, Susumu Hani followed up a series of documentary shorts with this, his improvisational first feature depicting life in a reform school. Using Aiko Jinushi's novel Wing That Can't Fly for inspiration, Hani announces his intentions immediately, with title cards that are translated to "This is a documentary, but the characters and situations are fictitious." In other words, Hani started with no story at all, utilizing non-professional actors, many of them former "delinquents" (social outcasts were common new-wave protagonists), while focusing on one youth, Yukio Yamada, who plays Asai, a fatherless boy whose mother cast him aside, leaving him to fend for himself. Reliving their old lives, the boys give thoughtful, fully-inhabited performances, informed by personal history. Hani's hand-held, vérité approach gives way to biting social criticism at the end, as Asai thanks those who have deform . . . err, reformed him.

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ARTICLES BY BRETT MICHEL
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