Japanese cinema is full of surprises and is lucky to have a distributor in Great Britain that is open-minded and discerning in the choice of films that are regularly released. Third Window Films is a company that deserves praise, for it is rare in Europe to find one that takes an interest in Japanese made productions. Humour is one of its criteria and although not all the films it distributes are comedies, Third Window Films has treated us to a few gems over the past few months, such as Instant Swamp (2012) by Miki Satoshi, and Adrift in Tokyo (2012) by the same director. With The Woodsman and the Rain by Okita Shuichi, there is this sense of comedy and absurdity that several Japanese directors, such as Kitano Takeshi, master perfectly. It is the story of a film being shot out in the countryside and the relationship between Katsu, a simple-minded local who is helping the team and Koichi, the clumsy director of the film. At first Koichi believes Katsu to be hopelessly lazy and snaps at him to help his crew with the manual labour. Watching Koichi’s authority being chipped away by an obliviously righteous Katsu is hilarious, but the two slowly become awkward friends. The movie is great a success, thanks to Yakusho Koji, the genial actor who has worked with some of Japan’s most famous directors, such as Kurosawa Kiyoshi and Kore-Eda Hirokazu. He is perfect in the role of the naïve Katsu who, to a certain extent, is reminiscent of the French actor Fernandel in The Schpountz, by Marcel Pagnol (1938). The quality of the performances from Kora Kengo (one of our favourite young actors) and Oguri Shun is another reason to rush out and get the DVD or Blu-Ray.
Photo: Third Window Films