The Twilight Samurai (15)
Not yet rated
Time Out saysFormer samurai Seibei (Sanada, last seen in Ring) has lost his wife to tuberculosis; he works as a stock clerk for his clan to support his aged mother and two young daughters. A formal introduction to his best friend's sister Tomoe (Miyazawa, radiantly demure) raises the possibility of remarriage, but Seibei considers himself too poor and Tomoe retreats in emotional confusion. But then he's 'volunteered' to duel with a recalcitrant clan member (Tanaka, a butoh veteran making his film debut) who refuses to commit suicide. He's forced to face this man with a wooden sword, having hocked his real one. Yamada (now 72) based this on three pulp stories by Shuhei Fujisawa and directs it with the same choked back sentimentality he brought to the Tora-san series, playing up the parallels with present day salarymen facing premature retirement and poverty. It looks great (inky chiaroscuro photography, a palette anchored in greys and browns), but it could have been made 50 years ago.