Zero Focus


1h 35m 1961
Zero Focus

Brief Synopsis

A new bride tries to find her missing husband.

Film Details

Also Known As
Zero no shoten
Genre
Drama
Crime
Foreign
Film Noir
Release Date
1961

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 35m

Synopsis

A new bride tries to find her missing husband.

Film Details

Also Known As
Zero no shoten
Genre
Drama
Crime
Foreign
Film Noir
Release Date
1961

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 35m

Articles

Zero Focus - Zero Focus


Zero Focus (1961) is the second of eight films by Japanese director Yoshitaro Nomura based on works by crime writer Seicho Matsumoto, a pairing made in film noir heaven. Critics have compared Nomura to Hitchcock for his twisty plots; or, as British film curator Tom Vincent did, to Howard Hawks, "a director who could get the very best out of his assignments, whether working in comedy, crime or westerns, to express a personal vision of the world." As for Matsumoto, his stories and novels have been likened to that of noir legends such as Cornell Woolrich. Screenwriter and historian Wolcott Wheeler characterized Matsumoto's work as "one part Raymond Chandler, one part John Steinbeck, and one part Gore Vidal."

The son of Hotei Nomura, one of the leading directors of the silent era at Shochiku Studio, Yoshitaro Nomura also spent his entire career at Shochiku, working as an assistant director to Akira Kurosawa before making his directing debut in 1952. A prolific filmmaker who directed 89 films in all genres, Nomura found his ideal collaborator in Matsumoto, at the time Japan's most popular crime writer, with 1958's Stakeout. Like several of Nomura's best-known noir films, Zero Focus, his second adaptation of a Matsumoto work, begins with a train journey from Tokyo to the provinces. Teiko (Yoshiko Kuga), a new bride in an arranged marriage, sees her husband off on a trip to wrap up his business affairs in Kanazawa in western Japan before returning to start a new project in Tokyo. When he disappears, Teiko goes to Kanazawa and ultimately to the ruggedly mountainous Noto peninsula to find out what happened to him. With the help of police and an investigator from her husband's company, she discovers a web of deceit, including revelations of corruption and prostitution during the American occupation following World War II. The superb black and white location cinematography, Nomura's masterful use of the wide screen, the performances, particularly by Kuga and two other important women characters, and the dramatic musical score, all enhance the absorbing and morally complex narrative that is reminiscent of the American noirs of the 1940s. A stylish, overlong 2009 remake of Zero Focus, in color, is visually lush but lacks the noir grittiness of the original.

Until recently, Nomura's work was little seen outside of Japan, where his films were popular. His affinity for crime drama was not limited to Matsumoto's work. He also made a film version of an Ellery Queen novel, and his final work was Dangerous Women (1985), based on an Agatha Christie Poirot novel, The Hollow. But of his crime genre adaptations, his best were those based on Matsumoto's work. As noir expert Jake Hinkson writes, "What you see in Zero Focus is one of those rare, perfect blends of artistic sensibilities between writer and director....Matsumoto and Nomura shared a vision of the world that was dark and foreboding and rather opaque. Beneath the obscuring layers of social decorum, one found ever-twisting emotional complexity, social dysfunction, and legal corruption. Their collaborations are not to be missed."

Director: Yoshitaro Nomura
Producer: Ichinozuke Hosumi, Shigero Wakatsuki
Screenplay: Shinobu Hashimoto, Yoji Yamada, based on the novel by Seicho Matsumoto
Cinematography: Takashi Kawamata
Editor: Yoshiyasu Hamamura
Costume Design: Yuji Nagashima
Art Direction: Koji Uno
Music: Yasushi Akutagawa
Principal Cast: Yoshiko Kuga (Teiko Uhara), Hizuro Takachiho (Sachiko Murota/Emmy), Ineko Arima (Hisako Tanuma), Koji Nanbara (Kenichi Uhara), Ko Nishimura (Sotaro Uhara), Sadako Sawamura ( Sotaro's wife), Yoshi Kato (Mr. Murota), Tatsuo Nagai (Lt. Kitamura).
BW-95m.

by Margarita Landazuri
Zero Focus  - Zero Focus

Zero Focus - Zero Focus

Zero Focus (1961) is the second of eight films by Japanese director Yoshitaro Nomura based on works by crime writer Seicho Matsumoto, a pairing made in film noir heaven. Critics have compared Nomura to Hitchcock for his twisty plots; or, as British film curator Tom Vincent did, to Howard Hawks, "a director who could get the very best out of his assignments, whether working in comedy, crime or westerns, to express a personal vision of the world." As for Matsumoto, his stories and novels have been likened to that of noir legends such as Cornell Woolrich. Screenwriter and historian Wolcott Wheeler characterized Matsumoto's work as "one part Raymond Chandler, one part John Steinbeck, and one part Gore Vidal." The son of Hotei Nomura, one of the leading directors of the silent era at Shochiku Studio, Yoshitaro Nomura also spent his entire career at Shochiku, working as an assistant director to Akira Kurosawa before making his directing debut in 1952. A prolific filmmaker who directed 89 films in all genres, Nomura found his ideal collaborator in Matsumoto, at the time Japan's most popular crime writer, with 1958's Stakeout. Like several of Nomura's best-known noir films, Zero Focus, his second adaptation of a Matsumoto work, begins with a train journey from Tokyo to the provinces. Teiko (Yoshiko Kuga), a new bride in an arranged marriage, sees her husband off on a trip to wrap up his business affairs in Kanazawa in western Japan before returning to start a new project in Tokyo. When he disappears, Teiko goes to Kanazawa and ultimately to the ruggedly mountainous Noto peninsula to find out what happened to him. With the help of police and an investigator from her husband's company, she discovers a web of deceit, including revelations of corruption and prostitution during the American occupation following World War II. The superb black and white location cinematography, Nomura's masterful use of the wide screen, the performances, particularly by Kuga and two other important women characters, and the dramatic musical score, all enhance the absorbing and morally complex narrative that is reminiscent of the American noirs of the 1940s. A stylish, overlong 2009 remake of Zero Focus, in color, is visually lush but lacks the noir grittiness of the original. Until recently, Nomura's work was little seen outside of Japan, where his films were popular. His affinity for crime drama was not limited to Matsumoto's work. He also made a film version of an Ellery Queen novel, and his final work was Dangerous Women (1985), based on an Agatha Christie Poirot novel, The Hollow. But of his crime genre adaptations, his best were those based on Matsumoto's work. As noir expert Jake Hinkson writes, "What you see in Zero Focus is one of those rare, perfect blends of artistic sensibilities between writer and director....Matsumoto and Nomura shared a vision of the world that was dark and foreboding and rather opaque. Beneath the obscuring layers of social decorum, one found ever-twisting emotional complexity, social dysfunction, and legal corruption. Their collaborations are not to be missed." Director: Yoshitaro Nomura Producer: Ichinozuke Hosumi, Shigero Wakatsuki Screenplay: Shinobu Hashimoto, Yoji Yamada, based on the novel by Seicho Matsumoto Cinematography: Takashi Kawamata Editor: Yoshiyasu Hamamura Costume Design: Yuji Nagashima Art Direction: Koji Uno Music: Yasushi Akutagawa Principal Cast: Yoshiko Kuga (Teiko Uhara), Hizuro Takachiho (Sachiko Murota/Emmy), Ineko Arima (Hisako Tanuma), Koji Nanbara (Kenichi Uhara), Ko Nishimura (Sotaro Uhara), Sadako Sawamura ( Sotaro's wife), Yoshi Kato (Mr. Murota), Tatsuo Nagai (Lt. Kitamura). BW-95m. by Margarita Landazuri

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