Toshiaki Nakazawa

Toshiaki Nakazawa

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Hara-Kiri: Death Of A Samurai Review


Excellent
Using muted colours and dark emotions, Miike takes a remarkably restrained approach in this 3D remake of the 1962 samurai classic. It's a slow-burning 17th century Shakespearian tragedy with an astonishing attention to detail and a huge emotional kick.

Aimless without a master to serve, the ronin Hanshiro (Ichikawa) turns up in the courtyard of a great house asking to commit ritual suicide and die with honour. Before granting permission, the house prefect Kageyu (Yakusho) recounts the story of the similarly penniless Motome (Eita), who made the same request in the hopes of receiving a compassionate payout and pardon from the nobleman.

But Kageyu called Motome's bluff, leading to a horrific seppuku with Motome's bamboo blade. What Kageyu doesn't know is that Hanshiro knew Motome.

Continue reading: Hara-Kiri: Death Of A Samurai Review

Departures Review


Very 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


Weak
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.

Continue reading: Departures Review

The Bird People In China Review


Very Good
If you know famed Japanese director Takashi Miike for his long string of ultraviolent Yakuza gorefests and stories of unspeakable sexual perversion, you'll be shocked -- in a dreamy, Zen-like way -- by The Bird People in China, a strange aberration in the Miike oeuvre that's soft, sensitive, and deeply moving. No human entrails were spilled in the making of this movie.

This is a road picture, a very bumpy road picture, featuring two Japanese men who make their way to a primitive corner of China's remote Yunnan province in search of a potentially valuable vein of jade that's just waiting to be mined. Yuppie businessman Wada (Masahiro Motoki) thinks he's traveling alone. Little does he know he's being shadowed by Ujiie (Renji Ishibashi), a yakuza who plans on grabbing the jade lode since Wada's company owes money to his gangland bosses.

Continue reading: The Bird People In China Review

Toshiaki Nakazawa

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Toshiaki Nakazawa Movies

Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai Movie Review

Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai Movie Review

Using muted colours and dark emotions, Miike takes a remarkably restrained approach in this 3D...

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The Bird People in China Movie Review

The Bird People in China Movie Review

If you know famed Japanese director Takashi Miike for his long string of ultraviolent Yakuza...

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