Making Movies with Kinji Fukasaku

One of my favorite Japanese directors is the talented Kinji Fukasaku. When I read about the Close-Up Blog-a-thon being held by Matt Zoller Seitz at The House Next Door today, many scenes from his movies started rushing through my head. Kinji Fukasaku often used close-ups in his films to convey mood and action, so I thought I’d share a fascinating moment from Fukasaku’s terrific crime film Blackmail Is My Life (aka Kyokatsu Koso Waga Jinsei, 1968).

In the following moments represented by the still shots below, a young thug visits an unusual adult club with his lover and pretends to be someone he is not. He is fully aware that any actions he takes while he is at the club will be filmed by some criminals hiding behind a one-way mirror. The criminals think the man is unaware of their cameras and they plan to blackmail him with the film they’re shooting. At first the man is a bit nervous about having a camera film his every move, but he soon starts to enjoy the idea of being watched while it’s happening.

Fukasaku films the entire thing using close-ups that zoom in closer and closer as the scene unfolds, and it adds an uncomfortable intimacy to the action taking place on screen. These moments in the film manage to be erotic, sleazy and even a bit humorous all at once, while showing very little bare skin. It also leaves the audience in the somewhat uncomfortable position of being voyeurs who are unknowingly being observed.

Kinji Fukasaku was a brilliant director and Blackmail is My Life is the work of a man who was fully aware of the power of his camera. Many of his films are filled with creative uses of the “close-up” and this is just one interesting example.

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6 thoughts on “Making Movies with Kinji Fukasaku

  1. Jonathan Lapper says:

    Great shots! Not to sound too base, but the shot of the head between the legs makes one want to rent it today. Also love the tongue at the end and the way you put the two screen grabs of the top of his face and the shot of his tongue one on top of the other creates an incredibly cool layered face effect. Kimberly, you’re a screen grab artist!

  2. cinebeats says:

    Peter – Fukasaka made lots of terrific films so I’m sure you’ll have a good time discovering his work. There are some very funny moments in Blackmail is My Life, even though the overall story is rather tragic.

    Jonathan – It’s a terrific movie so I hope you give it a look soon. I think you’d be surprised by it. I can’t take too much credit for the screen shots since I just posted them in the order Fukasaka shot them. The effect is all his!

  3. Keith says:

    Hey Kimberly. I’ve never seen this film, but I’ve wanted to explore some of Fukasaka’s work. The shots here definitely made me want to see this one. Great blog.

  4. cinebeats says:

    Thanks guys! I’m glad the images inspired you to seek out some of Kinji Fukasaku’s films. As I mentioned above, he’s made a lot of great movies and thankfully many of them are available on DVD. I’m sure places like Netflix and Greencine will have them to rent.

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