Ryusuke Hamaguchi has been one of Japan’s most prominent filmmaking voices for a while now, but he has finally gotten the attention he deserves after his recent adaptation of a Haruki Murakami short story – Drive My Car. This was amplified by the fact that Drive My Car managed to score multiple nominations, including one for Best Picture.
2021 was indeed a fine year for Hamaguchi, who also released his anthology film Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy, which received several accolades as well. He has already moved on to a new project and is currently working on a film called Our Apprenticeship, which is set in Paris and will probably be a multilingual production.
Over the years, Hamaguchi has produced several spectacular masterpieces, but none of them has surpassed the mastery of his five-hour magnum opus Happy Hour. Conceived while he was working at a workshop for non-professional actors, Hamaguchi ended up constructing a riveting commentary on modernity, female desires and the institution of love.
Due to the increased attention on Hamaguchi’s works from film fans who are just discovering his brilliance, there have been a lot of online searches about Hamaguchi’s cinematic influences and more information about his unique artistic sensibilities. The modern pioneer shed some light on these questions during an interview with Criterion.
While naming some of his favourite films, he singled out Douglas Sirk’s 1955 classic All That Heaven Allows: “I’m inspired not only by Sirk’s films but by his interviews as well: in one conversation, he talks about why the protagonist of a film should be both loved and despised. The camera, for Sirk, is a kind of X-ray that perceives a character’s soul. That might sound cliché, but I feel that truly resonates with my filmmaking experiences.”
Hamaguchi is extremely interested in camera movement and the fluidity of the cinematic experience, which is evident from his selection of Flowers of Shanghai. “Flowers of Shanghai strikes the perfect balance,” the director explained. “The camera moves fluidly from one amazing composition to the next, creating a feeling of suspense as to what images will come next.”
Check out the complete list below.
Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s 20 favourite films of all time:
- The Golden Coach (Jean Renoir, 1952)
- Underworld (Josef von Sternberg, 1927)
- Flunky, Work Hard (Mikio Naruse, 1931)
- Remorques (Jean Grémillon, 1941)
- Stromboli (Roberto Rossellini, 1950)
- French Cancan (Jean Renoir, 1954)
- Lumière d’été (Jean Grémillon, 1943)
- The Last Command (Josef von Sternberg, 1928)
- No Blood Relation (Mikio Naruse, 1932)
- Le ciel est à vous (Jean Grémillon, 1944)
- All That Heaven Allows (Douglas Sirk, 1955)
- Every-Night Dreams (Mikio Naruse, 1933)
- Women of the Night (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1948)
- The Docks of New York (Josef von Sternberg, 1928)
- Elena and Her Men (Jean Renoir, 1956)
- Apart From You (Mikio Naruse, 1933)
- Holiday (George Cukor, 1938)
- Casque d’or (Jacques Becker, 1952)
- Street Without End (Mikio Naruse, 1934)
- Flowers of Shanghai (Hou Hsiao-Hsien, 1998)