Takako Matsu

Takako Matsu

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Confessions Review


Excellent
Bravura filmmaking turns this revenge thriller into something unexpected, filling the screen with vivid characters and situations that continually challenge us as filmgoers. The result is utterly riveting, as well as wrenching and unforgettable.

On the last day of term, teacher Yuko (Matsu) tells her unruly 13-year-old students the true story of her young daughter's death: rather than an accident, she was killed by two students, underachieving Naoki and science nerd Shuya (Fujiwara and Nishii). And now Yuko has set in motion her revenge. As the next term starts, a matey new teacher (Okada) takes Yuko's place, and only one student (Hashimoto) seems haunted by Yuko's story. So she tries to get involved in the lives of both boys, whose worlds seem to be closing in on them.

Continue reading: Confessions 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

Takako Matsu

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