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‘Masaki Kobayashi Against the System’

by Mark Schilling

Director: Masaki Kobayashi

Language: Japanese (subtitled in English)

Criterion has just released “Masaki Kobayashi Against the System,” a four-disc set of hard-hitting social dramas by the director of the period classic “Seppuku (Harakiri)” (1962). Among them, “The Thick-Walled Room (Kabe Atsuki Heya)” (1953) examines the plight of soldiers accused of war crimes by the occupying Americans, “Black River (Kuroi Kawa)” (1957) the lives of red-light district denizens and “The Inheritance (Karami-ai)” (1962) the ugly wrangling over a dying man’s legacy.