My first Shinoda was a moderate success. Shinoda may not the most famous of the classic Japanese directors, but Pale Flower is a film with standing. It's a Japanese noir with budding New Wave influences, a combination that elevates it above the usual genre fare. No doubt a good start for others wanting to explore Shinoda's work.
When Muraki returns from prison, he finds that his old gang has made a pact with their old rivals to stand strong against the rising gangs coming from Osaka. When he goes gambling he meets the enigmatic Saeko, who he falls madly in love with. But then new trouble arises and Muraki volunteers to take the fall once more.
The plot and characters aren't too interesting, it's a basic Yakuza story with minor romantic elements. The cinematography is what sets this one apart, together with a moody score. Sharp black and white contrasts and beautiful camera work make this a film worth watching, the rest is okay but not spectacular.