8½ (Federico Fellini, 1963)

Guido Anselmi is a respected film director who has found himself in quite the predicament. He is in the middle of making a science-fiction feature that many of his actors and actresses seem to believe is a thinly-veiled autobiographical allegory. The production of Guido’s film is going smoothly – or at least it would be were it not for him coming down with a particularly nasty case of director’s block. It especially doesn’t help when he bounces ideas off of an influential critic only for him to shoot every single one of them down, calling them intellectually bankrupt, untenable, and convoluted. With his married life and production falling apart around him, Guido often reminiscences about his childhood and indulges in personal fantasies.

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Pale Flower (Masashiro Shinoda, 1964)

Yakuza hitman Muraki has just been released from prison. When visiting an illegal gambling parlor, he finds himself attracted to a strange young woman named Saeko. She regularly loses money gambling, and asks Muraki to find games with larger stakes. In his first days of freedom, Muraki finds himself entering a mutually destructive relationship that could threaten to destroy them both.

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Branded to Kill (Seijun Suzuki, 1967)

Goro Hanada is the third-ranked hitman of the Japanese underworld. He has flown into Tokyo with his wife, Mami. There, they meet Kasuga, a formerly ranked hitman who now makes his living as a taxi driver. Kasuga asks Hanada to assist him to break back into the profession. Hanada agrees, and the three of them go to a club owned by yakuza boss Michihiko Yabuhara. The two men are tasked with escorting a client from Sagami Beach to Nagano. Little do they know that they’re about to drive into an ambush.

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