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Genre: Drama

Duration: 119 Minutes

Robinson’s Garden

The Way of the Sword: From boom to bust: Japanese cinema in the 1980s

 Hosted by Ryan Ferguson

Japan was the envy of the world in the 1980s, as the second-largest economy on the planet, Japan became the hub of the global dream. Status and style became the de rigueur stand-ins for culture, and a nationwide party that began in the 60s was hurtling towards its inevitable crash of the early 90s. Under the surface, Japanese filmmakers’ sensitivity to growing angst and isolation of those in a society consumed by surface found their new iconoclast in punk. An often overlooked decade in the history of Japanese cinema that culminated in the cinematic revelations of Akira and Tetsuo, the Iron Man, the films in this program represent a few of the key steps on the path from boom to bust.

Ryan Ferguson

Ryan Ferguson is a film programmer and musician based in Hamilton, ON. He was the lead programmer of the AGH Film Festival between 2014 and 2021 and is the former Curator of Film at the Art Gallery of Hamilton. Ryan currently programs the theatrical and special event film screenings at The Westdale. Japanese historical and contemporary cinema is Ryan’s primary area of interest, and ‘The Way of the Sword’ is part of a series of film programs he is developing to provide more exposure to the lesser seen corners of Japanese Cinema.

Robinson’s Garden (Japan 1987) 


Japanese with English subtitles

Directed by Masashi Yamamoto

On a drunken walk home, bohemian drug-dealer Kumi (Kumiko Ota) discovers an abandoned building on the outskirts of Tokyo. Attracted by the vast and untapped space rampant with luxuriant vegetation, she promptly sells all of her belongings and retreats from the world. She
carves an island out of the concrete squat and wiles her days away growing cabbage and expressing herself in any way she pleases.

Following the memorable Carnival in the Night (1981), Masashi Yamamoto offers his defining punk statement. Winner of a Special Mention at the 1987 Locarno International Film Festival, Robinson’s Garden is a rare, radical vision of a marginal, multicultural Tokyo. Think Punk Rock
rather than City Pop (the soundtrack features Jagatara, Hamza El Din, and Yoichiro Yoshikawa), this film offers a stark contrast to the sights of financial prosperity brought forth by the films of the Economic Bubble era. Lensed by Tom DiCillo (Living In Oblivion, Johnny Suede), it instead shares much in common with the No Wave films the cinematographer pioneered alongside Jim Jarmusch (Stranger Than Paradise). An unsung, anticapitalist masterwork.