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   Now in our tenth calendar year
    PCR #488  (Vol. 10, No. 31)  This edition is for the week of July 27--August 2, 2009.

"Funny People"  by Mike Smith
Another Year in the Trenches  by ED Tucker
Samurai Epic with Ozu Flavor  by Jason Fetters
At Least He Didn't Go Blind! .... Movie Notes .... About Time .... Passing On .... .... .... .... .... My Favorite Films, Part 2... by Mike Smith
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Samurai Epic with Ozu Flavor

Yamada Yoji has created the best example of the jidaieki (period film) since Kurosawa. He has done something unique to Japanese cinema by combining elements of the Ozuesque home drama. Also, its timeless plot should even appeal to Japanese audiences who flock to Western films. It offers a much needed change. This film has a very Eastern feel to it, in that the life of a samurai has not been glamourized. Its protrayed in a realistic way. The things that the main character, Katagiri Munezo, must endure, make a good case for the argument that perhaps one is better off just being a regular townsperson.

Throughout the film, there a several examples of classic Ozu films.

In the The Hidden Blade, Katagiri is getting older and is not married. Likewise in Ozu's Early Summer, Hara Setsuko, plays a woman past 25 who hasn't married either. Katagiri becomes a lot like Hara Setsuko's character in that both are stubborn and will get married when they want to and if they want to. Katagiri also shares common charateristics with the father figure of Ryu Chishu's various characters in Ozu films. Some of the dialouge between Katagiri and his servant Kie reminded me of similar scenes from Tokyo Story, when Ryu and his wife are talking.

What I like about this film, is the way in which, Yamada humanizes his samurai characters through anecdote. There is a very moving and funny scene of a little girl who is afraid of Katagiri because he carries a sword. Katagiri cannot understand why this girl is afraid and when Kie tells him, he laughs and points out that most of the time samurai never draw their swords. The life of the bureaucract. There are other comedic episodes until the plot has to become serious. That's when the best dramatic scenes come out.

The Hidden Blade is a complex story that requires you to bring your full attention to it. The closer you follow the story, the more you will see and understand. Like any great work of literature, you have to be willing to be in the work and invest your complete attention.

Overall, this is a great film that showcases Yamada Yoji as the best new Japanese director, along with my other favorite, Koreeda Hirokazu.

"The Asian Aperture" is ©2009 by Jason Fetters.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2009 by Nolan B. Canova.