Japanese Film Festival, Kuala Lumpur, Day 2

A Good Husband (今度は愛妻家 Kondo wa aisaika)

Itoh Chihro

2009

Shunsuke is an idle photographer. He is also a womaniser and husband to Sakura: a warm, ditzy health freak who one day decides that enough is enough and leaves him. We then see  Shunsuke’s life after his wife’s actions, how he changes, how much he actually misses his wife and what she really meant to him.

As soon as I finished watching this film I checked to see if it was based on a play (it is). It has that stagey feeling that a lot of filmed plays have. Not that it is without merit. The actors do their best to bring the film to life (even if Yakushimaru Kiroko is miscast as the wife) and the film did hold my attention throughout. There is a clear change of direction in the film just over half way in and this part was stretched out for too long at the end. Twenty minutes shorter would have made it a lot tighter.

The Last Ronin (最後の忠臣蔵 Saigo no Chuushingura)

Sugita Shigemichi

2010

Kichiemon, the one survivor of the legendary 47 Ronin happens to cross paths with Magozaemon, a servant and protector of a beautiful girl on the verge of womanhood. Magozaemon disgraced himself deserting his leader the night before the great battle. Through the film, we see Magozaemon’s motive for his action.

When we start the film, it looks like Kichiemon will be the focus, but he is very quickly side-lined when Magozaemon shows up. Yashuko Koji, the famed Japanese actor who plays Magozaemon made another two samurai films directly before and after this: 13 Assassins and Hari Kari: Death of a Samurai, both by notorious director Miike Takashi. Three samurai films in a row. If you like your samurai movies bloody violent with flesh to spare, may I suggest 13 Assassins. The film this most reminded me of, albeit surprisingly, was Remains of the Day. It’s a film about duty, honour, loyalty and living within a strict code of conduct which can never be altered.  Magosaemon gets all kinds of love and hate thrown his way throughout the film but his code never shakes and his life’s path doesn’t wander. It’s a slow film but there’s nothing wrong with taking your time if that’s what’s right for the story. It’s a film that shows a true samurai’s loyalty far better than many others.

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