20 Shots: Mr. Thank You (1936)


“You’re either on the bus or off the bus.” – Ken Kesey

After suffering through about an hour of a recent award winning monstrosity the other night, it’s a tonic to think of my recent viewing of Mr. Thank You, a modest little Chekovian charmer (part of a new Eclipse collection of Hiroshi Shimizu films) that gently pulls you into its world rather than pounding you over the head with it.

Lives intersect on the bus, outside the bus, through the windows of the bus and in its mirrors. On the road from the countryside to Tokyo, beloved driver Arigato-san politely thanks pedestrians (and even ducks) for yielding to his passage. He picks up passengers, drops them off, and somehow can’t avoid getting involved in their lives.

Arigato-san winds up gallantly rescuing a young geisha-to-be but I can’t help thinking he’ll be haunted by the enigmatic beauty who sits behind him wryly observing and gently mocking the other passengers on their way to Tokyo.

(This post was originally intended to be part of the Japanese Film Blogathon but tempus, as they say, fugit.)


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