Cinema: Summer Hits

Like most countries, Japan has a movie market dominated by young viewers, whose tastes run to action and exaggeration rather than to psychology and subtlety. So the titles of last year's top Japanese hits will not surprise: The Girl with the Machine Gun and High Teen Boogie. A different lesson may be taken from the four hottest Japanese films playing during the early-summer doldrums. (The big films typically open in August and at the New Year.) All four are pictures of ambition and quality; all are critical examinations of Japan's turbulent past.

Shohei Imamura's The Ballad of Narayama and Nagisa Oshima's...

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