Takashi Sasano

Takashi Sasano

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Departures Review


Good
A minimalist approach to serious drama gives this film its emotional kick, even as it prevents it from really grappling with the serious issues in the story.

In the end, it's powerfully moving, and perhaps a bit too nice.

When his orchestra goes bust, young cellist Daigo (Motoki) and his smiley wife Mika (Hirosue) decide to move back to Daigo's hometown, where they can live in his family home. Daigo's mother died a couple of years earlier, and he hasn't seen his father since he was 6. He answers an ad in the newspaper for a job working with "departures", but this isn't a travel agency, as his new boss Sasaki (Yamazaki) teaches him the art of encoffining, preparing dead bodies for burial. And Mika isn't happy about this.

Continue reading: Departures Review

Departures Review


Grim
Yôjirô Takita's Departures has come under siege since its startling upset at the 81st Academy Awards, beating out critical favorites The Class and Waltz with Bashir to win best foreign film. Such a blow to the critical consensus hadn't been dealt since Bosnia's No Man's Land beat out Amélie in 2001. Is a special brand of resentment justified in this latest case? Hardly. Any film lover who has watched the Oscars with any sort of interest over the years knows that, in the 62 years since the Academy began recognizing foreign accomplishments, they have rarely bestowed the award on films that deserve the attention.

Set mostly in an overtly nostalgic and gloomy section of Yamagata, Departures concentrates on the disassembling and retooling in the life of goofy Kobayashi (Masahiro Motoki, fitfully quirky), a cellist living in Tokyo with his wife until his orchestra disbands. The abrupt case of unemployment sparks the idea of leaving the city for his childhood home of Sakata. His wife Mika (Ryoko Hirosue) is very understanding, relieved even by the prospect of not having to pay rent in her late mother-in-law's house.

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Love and Honor Review


Excellent
The final film of legendary Japanese director Yôji Yamada's introspective trilogy of 19th-century samurai life, Love and Honor is as elegant and meditative as the two films that preceded it. Like The Twilight Samurai and The Hidden Blade, it features intimate psychological drama rather than slashing swordplay. In fact, the movie has only one sword fight, and it consists of only three or four swings of the blade, but don't let that dissuade you. You won't be bored.

Mid-level samurai Shinojo (Takuya Kimura) is in a career slump. He finds himself working as one of five food tasters for the local samurai lord, making sure his boss's sashimi isn't poisoned. It's a living that provides him and his wife Kayo (Rei Dan) with a nice house, a large rice quota, and an old and loyal servant named Tokuhei (Takashi Sasano), but it's not too thrilling.

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Bright Future Review


OK
If you see one Japanese-urban-ennui-with-a-jellyfish story, see Bright Future, a curious story of how a bad job can wear you down to the breaking point.

Two go-nowhere factory workers are content to make moist towelettes by day, sit around their apartment by night. One fellow is slowly acclimating a jellyfish from salt water to fresh. That's the extent of the excitement.

Continue reading: Bright Future Review

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