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Have you ever witnessed something so beautiful as a thunderstorm at night? Bolts of lightning that illuminate the pitch black sky like an army of Mag Lites. They streak across the sky, seemingly tearing the fabric of reality. The light show soon gives way, though, to the unnerving peals of thunder which cause the very foundations of houses to rumble. But the true beauty of a midnight storm is the black rain.

Black rain, you say? There is no such thing! Ah, but to believe. You can shove it in a glass and put it under the light, but it will not be black. You can drench your clothes in it and wring them out, but there will be no trace of it. But to believe in the black rain is to believe in the beauty of nature.

Go ahead and step outside into the black rain. Run around in it, dance in it, play in it. Do you feel that? For a moment, all the cares in the world, all the worry, all the doubt, all the hatred, all the anger is gone. Where did it go? It's falling all around you. Crashing to the ground. For one moment, all those bad things are gone. Gone into the black rain.

Original title: Kuroi ame (Black Rain) (1988)
Director: Shohei Imamura
Starring: Yoshiko Tanaka, Kazuo Kitamura, Etsuko Ichihara, Shoichi Ozawa, Norihei Miki, Keisuke Ishida
Genre: Drama, War
Language: Japanese (English Subtitled)
Details: Japan , 123min, B & W
Awards: Cannes Film Festival
Notes: Not to be confused with the Ridley Scott set-in-Japan action-thriller.
Based on the 1969 novel Kuroi ame by Ibuse Masuji.

"Black Rain" is the immediate aftermath of the bombing of Hiroshima, August 6th 1945, and tells the story of a family of survivors, a middle-aged couple, Shigematsu and Shigeko Shizuma and their niece Yasuko.

Shot in black-and-white and has a discreet Toru Takemitsu score, which is implicitly an anti-nuclear protest. But it also is a protest of discrimination against the atomic bomb survivors, approximately 370,000 today. Also it belongs to a large group of Japanese films concerned with exposing the terrible price exacted of ordinary citizens by World War II. The film shows the impossibility of getting on with everyday life in the wake of such unfathomable destruction.

1989 action drama directed by Ridley Scott and starring Michael Douglas, Andy Garcia, Guts Ishimatsu, and Ken Takakura. Douglas and Garcia play NYPD detectives charged with delivering a yakuza man (Ishimatsu) to the police in Osaka, Japan. When they arrive at Itami, they accidentally hand him over to yakuza disguised as cops, and so they have to spend the rest of the movie getting him back, with the help of an English-speaking Osaka cop (Takakura).

As far as I know, this is the only big-ticket Hollywood movie ever made in Osaka, and it does a damn good job of showing off the city. If you're planning on a visit, I strongly recommend seeing this movie first so you'll know what to expect.

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