"Nobuhiko Obayashi: A Retrospective": 5 Highlights From a Fantastic Oeuvre

Featured Critic; New York City, New York
"Nobuhiko Obayashi: A Retrospective," screening at Japan Society through December 6, offers a long-overdue (re)introduction to a fascinating and innovative filmmaker, one of the few of his generation still active. He's best known for his 1977 cult classic House, but beyond that is a vast and varied filmography that's still ripe for rediscovery. 

Below are five highlights from a career that's all about reinvention, both in personal terms and in terms of the film medium itself. For more info on these and other films, and to purchase tickets, visit Japan Society's website.

HOUSE (1977)

This is where it all starts, both for Obayashi's feature filmmaking career and for most of those outside Japan encountering his work for the first time. It's a wild, anarchic take on the haunted house movie, incorporating ideas from his young daughter Chigumi, and freely using techniques employed in the many experimental films and TV commercials he'd made before then. A group of young girls, with such evocative monikers as Gorgeous, Sweet, Melody, and Kung Fu, are invited to a house that begins to eat the girls, one by one. From today's perspective, House can be seen as an ode to pre-digital filmmaking, its fun atmosphere created largely by practical and in-camera special effects. While Obayashi's subsequent features would dial the craziness way down, he would continue to incorporate his experimentation into more conventional structures that nevertheless retained a fresh, exploratory spirit.

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housejapan societyjapanese cinemaObayashi Nobuhiko

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