Posts Tagged ‘Japanese Cinema’

Sanshiro Sugata publicity photo, 1943

August 4, 2010

Akira Kurosawa’s directorial debut, now on DVD.

via MUBI Daily Notebook

20 Shots: Mr. Thank You (1936)

June 26, 2009

20-mr-thank-you

“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.)

No Regrets For Our Youth

February 12, 2008

Better known for her work as the semi-tragic unwed daughter in a number of Ozu’s family dramas, Setsuko Hara shows even more depth in Akira Kurosawa’s 1946 film (part of another great new Criterion/Eclipse box set). Her innocence is lost as the characters are swept up in the politics of 1930s Japan and she is forced to draw upon an inner strength that life didn’t seem to have prepared her for. An imperfect film, but one worth viewing as Hara goes through a deep physical and spiritual transformation in a memorable performance.