Tag Archives: Shin Saburi

Masaki Kobayashi – Kaseki (1975)

This drama is adapted from a Japanese television mini-series. In the story, an industrialist learns of a medical condition which will greatly shorten his life. He is on a trip to Europe at the time, and a glimpse of a Japanese woman in that setting causes him to fantasize about her as the personification of his impending death. As his dialogue with his imagined mortality continues, he actually meets the living woman who is the template for his fantasy, and together they tour rural churches. Gradually he comes to some kind of peace about the diagnosis. When he returns to Japan, he is met with a series of challenges which profoundly test the lessons he has learned. Read More »

Yoshihiko Okamoto – Watashi wa Kai ni Naritai AKA I Want to Be a Shellfish (1958)

On a post-war peaceful day in Japan, Toyomatsu Shimizu, a barber as well as a good father and husband, is suddenly arrested by the Prefectural Police as a war criminal and sued for murder. According to the accusation by GHQ, Toyomatsu “attemped to kill a US prisoner”, which was nothing but an order by his superior and failed after all with hurting the prisoner by weak Toyomatsu. Also, Toyomatsu was driven to corner at the trial by the fact that he fed the US prisoner some burdock roots to nourish him. Toyomatsu believes nothing but being not guilty, but he is sentenced to death by hanging. Prior to the execution, Toyomatsu writes a long farewell letter to his family, the wife and the only son: “If I ever incarnate, I hate to be a human being any more…. Oh yes, I would like to be…a shellfish living on the rock-bottom of the sea.” Read More »

Kon Ichikawa – Anata to watashi no aikotoba: Sayônara, konnichiwa AKA Goodbye, Hello (1959)

There is little to nothing written in English about this film, and in fact of the entire Cinemateque Ontario Ichikawa Kon tome the only mention of Goodbye, Hello was in the extensive filmography. This was one of the films Ichikawa made for Daiei that he co-wrote with his wife Wado Natto, the pair being one of world cinema’s great husband and wife collaborations. Ichikawa worked with the cinematographer for Goodbye, Hello, Kobayashi Setsuo, on some of his best looking films: Ten Dark Women, Fires on the Plain, and An Actor’s Revenge. Actress Kyo Machiko was certainly a familiar face in Ichikawa’s films, starring in Odd Obsession and The Pit. Judging by cast and crew alone, this looks like prime Ichikawa, and I personally find this period of his filmmaking (late 50s, early 60s) the most interesting. Read More »

Yasujirô Ozu – Chichi ariki AKA There Was a Father (1942)

Yasujiro Ozu’s frequent leading man Chishu Ryu is riveting as Shuhei, a widowed high school teacher who finds that the more he tries to do what is best for his son’s future, the more they are separated. Though primarily a delicately wrought story of parental love, There Was a Father offers themes of sacrifice that were deemed appropriately patriotic by Japanese censors at the time of its release during World War II, making it a uniquely political film in Ozu’s body of work. Read More »