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Given the timid, committee-driven nature of modern Japanese film production, it’s rare for anything to make it into the cinemas with even the slightest whiff of controversy still clinging to it. “A Gambler’s Odyssey 2020” is a pungent exception.

Kazuya Shiraishi’s movie has been cultivating notoriety since its world premiere at a film festival in Macau last year was abruptly canceled, apparently due to organizers’ objections over its risque and “cynical” content. Distributors Toei cried censorship, only to walk back the claim with a retraction so ambiguous it merely heightened the confusion.

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