Tag Archives: Masahiko Nishimura

Jûzô Itami – Marutai no onna AKA Woman in Witness Protection (1997)

Synopsis:
Following the release of his Minbo No Onna — less a film than a textbook on how to extricate oneself from yakuza harassment — veteran director Juzo Itami was attacked and almost killed by the mob for his effort. In this crime-comedy, he voices his outrage at the attack, which he viewed as an attack on his right for self-expression. The film centers on Hiwako (played, as always, by Itami’s wife, Nobuko Miyamoto), a grand dame of the stage who witnesses a murder while exercising on a lonely country road. The victim turns out to be a lawyer who was snooping around in a shadowy cult clearly modeled on the subway-gassing sect Aum Shinrikyo. Hiwako manages to get a good look at the perpetrator’s face and identifies him as a cult member. Read More »

Kôki Mitani – Rajio no jikan aka Welcome Back, Mr. McDonald (1997)


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Quote:
Comedy is certainly not the first thing that comes to mind when we think of Japanese cinema. But a few more films like Koki Mitani’s hilarious screwball farce “Welcome Back, Mr. McDonald” could change all that.

This movie is ostensibly a goofy comedy about a live radio drama that goes haywire after the imperious diva playing the lead insists on certain last-minute changes. Her demands set in motion a desperate chain of events that transform a sudsy romantic drama set in a Japanese fishing village into a ludicrous action-adventure fantasy set in the United States.

“Welcome Back, Mr. McDonald” can be taken as pure, giddy fun in a farcical tradition that has all but disappeared from American movie comedy in the age of the salacious gross-out. But it can also be taken as a good-natured invitation to Japanese culture to lighten up. Its manic surface only partially conceals its satiric barbs. Read More »