It is almost impossible to cite an American director who has aged as gracefully in his idiosyncrasies as Ichikawa over the last three decades. It is also difficult to name a local director who parallels his many permutations of style. Ichikawa's films slide between clinical realism and wry observation of human foibles. There is a chilling haughtiness in his work, yet sometimes he plays to the pit with a low buffoonery that is almost beyond the American sensibility. He is not a classicist so much as an eclectic who has adapted serious literature, popular best sellers, and original material to his own purposes….
Ichikawa, in his 1958 Conflagration, predated the passionate atavism of...
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