“In the 1980s, Seijun Suzuki reinvented himself as an independent filmmaker. Freed from the commercial obligations of studio work, he indulged his passion for the Taisho era (1912–26), a brief period in Japanese history likened to Europe’s Belle Époque and America’s Roaring Twenties. Though not linked by plot, these three films -- ZIGEUNERWEISEN, KAGERO-ZA, and YUMEJI -- embody the hedonistic cultural atmosphere, blend of Eastern and Western art and fashion, and political extremes of the 1920s, all infused with Suzuki’s own eccentric vision of the time.
According to film critic Tony Rayns, KAGERO-ZA ‘may well be Suzuki’s finest achievement outside the constraints of genre filmmaking.’ In this hallucinatory adaptation of work by the Taisho-era writer Kyoka Izumi, a mysterious woman named Shinako invites playwright Matsuzaki to the city for a romantic rendezvous. While Matsuzaki is on his way, his patron Tamawaki appears on the train, claiming to be en-route to witness a love suicide between a married woman and her lover. Matsuzaki suspects that Shinako is Tamawaki’s wife, and the trip to the city may spell his doom.
Like Zigeunerweisen before it, reality, fantasy, life, and the afterlife blend together in KAGERO-ZA -- most spectacularly during the grand finale, in which Matsuzaki finds his life morphing into a deranged theatrical extravaganza.” (Film Society of Lincoln Center)