Touki Bouki (1973) (The Hyena’s Journey) is a Senegalese film by the great filmmaker Djibril Diop Mambety. It follows a young couple who will steal just about anything to escape Dakar and get to Paris. The film embraces a dreamy/nightmarish language, cutting between the slaughterings of cattle, waves washing up on a jagged coastline, and the urban landmarks of Dakar. Mory seems absolutely certain of his desire for escape, so much so that he ceases to participate in his community, exiling himself. Through him, we get a glimpse into the inner conflict of a post-colonial nation. This film was recently restored by the World Cinema Foundation. It showed on 35mm at the Walker Art Center on March 8th, 2014 as a part of the series Riff on the Riff: In the Spirit of the Cinematheque Tangier.
Ugetsu is a classic Japanese folktale retold in the form of a feature length film by the master filmmaker Kenji Mizoguchi. It is about a man who has perfected his craft in pottery and finds great wealth in selling his work in nearby towns. Unfortunately, a war is brewing, and the Shibata army draws near to his village. His wife begs him to abate his greed, but the man cannot. Meanwhile, his friend longs to be a samurai warrior, but his aspirations are misfit to his bumbling foolishness. His wife implores him to continue working humbly at home. Both men eventually confront the pitfalls of greed and fame, and must therefore realize their mistakes. Only by Mizoguchi’s mastery of film language are we able to join them on their journey. Definitely a must see of Japanese film.