Masatoshi Nagase

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Paterson Review

Excellent

Unpredictable filmmaker Jim Jarmusch ricochets from his artful vampire movie Only Lovers Left Alive into this offhanded comedy-drama. The central theme this time is poetry, as Jarmusch weaves the quiet everyday observations of William Carlos Williams' writings into a movie set in his hometown. It's a whimsical story packed with wry humour, thoughtful emotion and some spicy details in both the people and places.

It takes place in Paterson, New Jersey, but the title is also the name of the central character. Paterson (Adam Driver) is a bus driver who enjoys his daily routine with his girlfriend Laura (Golshifteh Farahani). As he scribbles poetry in his journal, Laura longs to be a cupcake-baking country singer. Their days are livened up by their expressive bulldog Marvin, who accompanies Paterson to the bar each night, where he chats with barman Doc (Barry Shabaka Henley) and the locals. Then one day his routine is broken, and a series of small events seem to conspire to change the course of his life.

There isn't actually much plot in this movie, which gently observes Paterson's repetitive days with a sense of sardonic wit. Driver and Farahani are terrific in their roles as dreamers whose lives are coloured with artistic expression. They're so cheerful, even in challenging situations, that we can't help but love them. By contrast, Paterson's boss (Rizwan Manji) has a list of complaints to recite every morning, and a couple in the bar (William Jackson Harper and Chasten Harmon) seem to be fighting about nothing. And then there are three other intriguing poets Paterson encounters over the course of the film: a rapper (Cliff Smith), a young girl (Sterling Jerins) and a Japanese tourist (Nagase).

Continue reading: Paterson Review

Paterson Trailer


A week in the life of Paterson (Adam Driver); a bus driver who happens to live in Paterson, New Jersey to the amusement of everyone he meets. He's also a talented poet, who writes based on his simple daily observations and is never found without his notebook. He lives his life on a strict schedule; he goes to work, goes home, walks his English bulldog Marvin, grabs a beer at the local bar and returns home to his wife. He is married to a woman called Laura (Golshifteh Farahani), whose life isn't quite as routine as Paterson's everyday schedule. She dreams of becoming a country singer and encourages her husband to go out and publish some of his work. But is he ready to share his mind with the rest of the world?

Continue: Paterson Trailer

The Sea Is Watching Review


OK
The art film world is watching... to see if this movie made from a screenplay by Japan's most eminent auteur, Akira Kurosawa (Rashomon, Seven Samurai, Throne of Blood), will bear the stamp of the master. Unfortunately, we get a vivid demonstration of the difference between a screenplay and a movie. The script is only the blueprint, and director Ken Kumai is not Kurosawa.

Kurosawa adapted his script from two short stories by Shugoro Yamamoto about a brothel in a seaside village during the Edo period (Tokyo before 1868). The Sumida River runs through Okabasho, separating the red light district from the gentry and allowing men certain freedoms from social restraint. Into this island of ill repute, and into our brothel, comes Fusanosuke (Hidetaka Yoshioka) a rather puny looking Samurai, fleeing from an altercation in which he wounded a senior Samurai. Besides having that Samurai's colleagues and local police on his tail, he's been ostracized from his father and family for the affront.

Continue reading: The Sea Is Watching Review

The Hidden Blade Review


Excellent
Like his 2002 movie Twilight Samurai, Yoji Yamada's The Hidden Blade, set in the scenic mountains of northern Japan, is far more interested in samurai psychodrama than swordplay. The film features only one swordfight, and samurai Katagiri (Masatoshi Nagase) even tells his beautiful servant Kei (Takako Matsu), the secret love of this life, that samurai actually hate to use their swords and rarely even draw them. Schooled on all the glorious samurai legends, she simply can't believe it.

And those samurai legends may be starting to fade. In 1860s Japan, the samurai class is getting nervous as western ways, and western techniques of warfare, threaten their age-old traditions. Local lords are importing guns and cannons, and they hire coaches from the big city to come out and teach these "backwater bumpkins" how England fights. The results are delightfully comical, as the befuddled samurai try to figure out guns, struggle to march in step, and even run in the fashionable way. The trainer ably demonstrates that the western way of running, knees up and arms pumping, is much faster than the samurai way, which involves a lot of tripping over skirts. In one marvelous scene, a squad of 20 or more samurai demonstrate how to fire their new cannon for their lord. How funny that they feel the need to bow after each step. Load. Bow. Ready. Bow. Aim. Bow. Fire. Bow.

Continue reading: The Hidden Blade Review

The Hidden Blade Review


Excellent
Like his 2002 movie Twilight Samurai, Yoji Yamada's The Hidden Blade, set in the scenic mountains of northern Japan, is far more interested in samurai psychodrama than swordplay. The film features only one swordfight, and samurai Katagiri (Masatoshi Nagase) even tells his beautiful servant Kei (Takako Matsu), the secret love of this life, that samurai actually hate to use their swords and rarely even draw them. Schooled on all the glorious samurai legends, she simply can't believe it.

And those samurai legends may be starting to fade. In 1860s Japan, the samurai class is getting nervous as western ways, and western techniques of warfare, threaten their age-old traditions. Local lords are importing guns and cannons, and they hire coaches from the big city to come out and teach these "backwater bumpkins" how England fights. The results are delightfully comical, as the befuddled samurai try to figure out guns, struggle to march in step, and even run in the fashionable way. The trainer ably demonstrates that the western way of running, knees up and arms pumping, is much faster than the samurai way, which involves a lot of tripping over skirts. In one marvelous scene, a squad of 20 or more samurai demonstrate how to fire their new cannon for their lord. How funny that they feel the need to bow after each step. Load. Bow. Ready. Bow. Aim. Bow. Fire. Bow.

Continue reading: The Hidden Blade Review

Mystery Train Review


OK
Another oddity odyssey courtesy of Jim Jarmusch, Mystery Train is actually his first color film and hardly his best work. Following a triptych of stories in a sleepy, run-down Memphis hotel (the train itself is considerably less important to the story), while the movie has a number of gigglish moments, on the whole it's a disappointment of squandered story ideas that plod on without much happening. Pretty typical of Jarmusch's characters' on-screen chattiness.

Pistol Opera Review


Bad
A recent article in Entertainment Weekly explains why Hollywood heavyweights from Tom Cruise to Brad Pitt are casting their creative nets across the Far East for new ideas. Who can blame them? In terms of succulent storylines, Asian cinema often appears light years ahead of an American film community knee-deep in sequels or remakes of cookie-cutter television fare.

A perfect example of the no-holds-barred well of creativity bubbling overseas is Seijun Suzuki's Pistol Opera. A sequel to the Japanese director's 1967 cult piece Branded to Kill, the film sets the stage for a wondrous tale of violence, betrayal, vengeance, and death. But while the film is gorgeous to behold, it winds up being strange without being interesting.

Continue reading: Pistol Opera Review

The Sea Is Watching Review


OK
The art film world is watching... to see if this movie made from a screenplay by Japan's most eminent auteur, Akira Kurosawa (Rashomon, Seven Samurai, Throne of Blood), will bear the stamp of the master. Unfortunately, we get a vivid demonstration of the difference between a screenplay and a movie. The script is only the blueprint, and director Ken Kumai is not Kurosawa.

Kurosawa adapted his script from two short stories by Shugoro Yamamoto about a brothel in a seaside village during the Edo period (Tokyo before 1868). The Sumida River runs through Okabasho, separating the red light district from the gentry and allowing men certain freedoms from social restraint. Into this island of ill repute, and into our brothel, comes Fusanosuke (Hidetaka Yoshioka) a rather puny looking Samurai, fleeing from an altercation in which he wounded a senior Samurai. Besides having that Samurai's colleagues and local police on his tail, he's been ostracized from his father and family for the affront.

Continue reading: The Sea Is Watching Review

Suicide Club Review


Excellent
A group of 54 Tokyo schoolgirls lock hands and happily leap in front of a subway, launching a fanatical interest in mass suicide among the youth of Japan. Before you go thinking this is a Japanese Heathers, rest assured it's anything but. Suicide Club is a psycho thriller imbued with harrowing imagery and a gruesome story in the creepy tradition of Ringu and Audition.

Start by taking a peek at the uncommon amount of gore: Bodies explode when they impact the ground, like enormous water balloons filled with blood. A belt made of human flesh shows up on a subway platform. Limbs and heads are everywhere. This is not a film for the faint of heart.

Continue reading: Suicide Club Review

The Most Terrible Time In My Life Review


Excellent
Asian cinema always seems to have its own voice, its own reasons, and its own functions. Kaizo Hayashi's The Most Terrible Time in My Life is a great example of amazing cinema that has been emerging from the Asian Pacific Rim in the past decade.

The Most Terrible Time in My Life is the first installment of a three-part series concerning Maiku Hama - a punk-turned-respectable private eye whose office is located in a movie theatre. A gritty, violent tale of gangland warfare, missing people, and friendships, and betrayal, Maiku's exploits begin by defending a waiter at a local mah-jongg parlor from two Yakuza thugs, culminating in Maiku getting part of his pinky finger sliced off. The waiter, Hai Ting, then hires Maiku to find his brother who has gone missing for a year since arriving in Japan. Maiku contacts his old cabby buddy Hoshino and finds out the Taiwanese and Hong Kong mafias are planning an all-out turf war in Japan.

Continue reading: The Most Terrible Time In My Life Review

Masatoshi Nagase

Masatoshi Nagase Quick Links

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Masatoshi Nagase Movies

Paterson Movie Review

Paterson Movie Review

Unpredictable filmmaker Jim Jarmusch ricochets from his artful vampire movie Only Lovers Left Alive into...

Paterson Trailer

Paterson Trailer

A week in the life of Paterson (Adam Driver); a bus driver who happens to...

The Sea Is Watching Movie Review

The Sea Is Watching Movie Review

The art film world is watching... to see if this movie made from a screenplay...

The Hidden Blade Movie Review

The Hidden Blade Movie Review

Like his 2002 movie Twilight Samurai, Yoji Yamada's The Hidden Blade, set in the scenic...

The Hidden Blade Movie Review

The Hidden Blade Movie Review

Like his 2002 movie Twilight Samurai, Yoji Yamada's The Hidden Blade, set in the scenic...

The Sea Is Watching Movie Review

The Sea Is Watching Movie Review

The art film world is watching... to see if this movie made from a screenplay...

Suicide Club Movie Review

Suicide Club Movie Review

A group of 54 Tokyo schoolgirls lock hands and happily leap in front of a...

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