Jûzô Itami

  • Jûzô Itami – Marusa no onna AKA A Taxing Woman (1987)

    Synopsis:
    Ace tax investigator Ryoko Itakura (Nobuko Miyamoto) sets her sights on the mysterious and philandering Hideki Gondo (Tsutomu Yamazaki), a suspected millionaire who owns a thriving chain of seedy hourly hotels. For years, Gondo has succeeded at hiding the true extent of his assets from the Japanese authorities. As the government investigation progresses, Itakura and Gondo find themselves locked in a battle of wits — one further complicated by their growing affections for each other.Read More »

  • 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 »

  • Kon Ichikawa – Wagahai wa neko de aru AKA I Am A Cat (1975)

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    I wasn’t sufficiently acquainted with Kon Ichikawa’s work (and, truthfully, I’m still not), but the entire tone of his relatively obscure I Am a Cat caught me somewhat by surprise. I’d loved Ichikawa’s Fires on the Plain, a deeply and darkly humorous look at the ridiculousness of war played against that looming seriousness that’s always prevalent in those kind of films. I was then ready for some kind of Japanese incarnation of Harry and Tonto. That’s really not what I got, though. I Am a Cat is definitely steeped in comic undertones, with Tatsuya Nakadai almost parodying himself, but it’s absolutely far removed from Harry and Tonto. Instead, we’re left with some odd tribute to Nakadai’s eternally grumpy protagonist and the stray cat who’s his only true confidante.Read More »

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