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Wife Of A Spy (Supai no Tsuma, スパイの妻)

Director – Kiyoshi Kurosawa – 2020 – Japan – 115m

****1/2

A Japanese businessman’s wife decides to help her husband after discovering he is passing inflammatory state secrets to the Americans – out on MUBI in the UK and Ireland on Wednesday, September 8th

1940, Kobe, Japan. British silk trader John Fitzgerald Drummond is arrested by the Kenpetai then released thanks in part to his friend and business associate Yusaku Fukuhara (Issey Takahashi from Shin Godzilla, Hideaki Anno, 2014; Kill Bill Vols 1 & 2, Quentin Tarantino, 2003 & 4; Whisper Of The Heart, Yoshifumi Kondo, 1995), who defends him against Officer Taiji Tsumori (Masahiro Higashide from Foreboding, 2017; Before We Vanish, 2017; Creepy, 2016 – all Kiyoshi Kurosawa), a childhood friend of Yusaku’s wife Satoko (Yu Aoi from Killing, Shinya Tsukamoto, 2018; Journey To The Shore, Kurosawa, 2015 and much else). (Europeans are systematically being arrested, with the exception of Axis power nationals Germans and Italians.)

As Fukuhara and his nephew Fumio Takeshita (Ryota Bando) travel abroad to Manchuria, Satako invites Taiji to her house for a whisky, but once there he berates her for the drink being Western- not Japanese-made and suggests she should wear traditional Japanese clothes rather than Western dresses.… Read the rest

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Still The Water (Futatsume no Mado, 2つ目の窓)

Director – Naomi Kawase – 2014 – Japan / France – Cert. 15 – 119m

*****

Two childhood sweethearts living on an island beset by storms must come to terms with the mortality and fallibility of their mothers – on BFI Player (rental) and MUBI.

The ocean roars and then, just as suddenly, is quiet. The wind howls through the trees, then sunlight is glimpsed through tranquil branches. Welcome to the sleepy yet storm-battered island of Amami Oshima, part of the Southern Japanese Archipelago, a place of paradox and contradiction seen through the eyes of two teenaged friends and their families.

Kyoko (Jun Yoshinaga aka Junko AbeSamurai Marathon, Bernard Rose, 2019) loves swimming in the sea. Her friend Kaito (Nijiro MurakamiIsle Of Dogs, Wes Anderson, 2018, Destruction Babies, Tetsuya Mariko, 2016) is less keen – he’d rather be in the safety of a swimming pool. She uses him and his bicycle to get around the island if and when he’s nearby. She is rather keen on him and would happily have sex. He can’t explain why, but is less enthusiastic about the idea.

Once we move on to their parents, there are fascinating observations regarding motherhood – especially in the light of adoption / unwanted pregnancy outing True Mothers (Naomi Kawase, 2020) – and, to a lesser extent, fatherhood.… Read the rest

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Martyr

Director – Mazen Khaled – 2017 – UK – Cert. 18 – 84m

***

Hounded by his parents to find work, a young man hangs out with friends and dives off the Beirut balustrade into the sea… and his death – on VoD from Friday, March 12th

A young man Hassane lives in Beirut with his parents. He can barely drag himself out of bed in the morning. They want him to go out and look for work and because he’s not yet found any, his father has a friend he’ll talk to too see if a suitable job can be found. To get his parents off his back, he promises he’ll look for work today.

He finds living at home with his parents to be a stifling experience. Masturbation in the shower might provide some respite were it not for his father beating on the door to shout the he’s taking too much time and using up the family’s water allowance.

Once he goes out on his moped, rather than look for work he joins his best mate Hmeid and other friends down at the promenade overlooking the Mediterranean, a popular diving spot. They hang out, chat for a while, then he mounts the balustrade to dive into the sea and… doesn’t come up.… Read the rest

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Journey To The Shore (Kishibe no tabi, 岸辺の旅)

Director – Kiyoshi Kurosawa – 2015 – Japan – Cert. 12 – 127m

****

Currently on BFI Player (extended free trial offer here) as part of 21st Century Japan, MUBI as part of The Uncanny Universe of Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Eureka Video Dual Format BluRay/DVD.

Review published in All The Anime.

Loner Mizuki (Fukatsu Eri) is alone one evening when her husband Yusuke (Tadanobu Asano) appears out of a dark corner into the light as if through a door. There doesn’t seem to be anything odd about this even though as she says, “it’s been three years”. “I’m dead,” he affirms. “In the sea off Toyama. My body’s been eaten by crabs. You wouldn’t find it even if you searched.”

Before departing, the dead come to terms with their death and help those close to them do the same.

This quiet, subtle, underplayed affair works as a gentle romance… Read the rest

Currently on BFI Player (extended free trial offer here) as part of 21st Century Japan, MUBI as part of The Uncanny Universe of Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Eureka Video Dual Format BluRay/DVD.

Review published in All The Anime.