Wednesday, July 11, 2007

July 11th Log

1980, Yamada Yoji, Japan

Repeat Viewing, DVD

Yamada Yoji is one of the most respected and beloved living Japanese filmmakers today, where he is well known for the Tora-san series, which spanned 26 years and included 48 films. Yamada has gained some attention in the West with his recent “Samurai trilogy” (Love and Honor; The Hidden Blade; Twilight Samurai). His 1980 film A Distant Cry From Spring is one of his very best, perhaps to me is reviled only by Yamada’s Home From the Sea as his finest film. A master storyteller who’s films are heart-warming, beautiful, and deeply affectionate Yamada’s films blend melodrama, romance, and longing with such a sense of simplistic, creative, and sensitive methods to make his films so emotionally involving and timeless. Here is a touching story that echoes storyline elements from the Hollywood western Shane, as a mysterious stranger (Kosaku played by Ken Takakura) arrives on a farm of a young widow mother (Tamiko played by Chieko Baisho) and her son. Her generosity is repaid with his help and after leaving for some time he returns to offer help at no cost but free rent. His labor and loyalty (two definitive Yamada themes) towards the family (both as a worker and even as a father figure to the son). However, when Kosaku’s mysterious past is revealed inevitable consequences result. A Distant Cry From Spring is a touching film. Beautifully shot and excellently performed I would consider this among the best Japanese films of the 1980s.

>> A clip from A Distant Cry From Spring:


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