The good stuff
The soundtrack is nice, the rhythm of the film is pretty unique and the bold approach to cutting up the story line is a refreshing change. Kurosawa proves himself an interesting director.
Remarkable TV film from Kiyoshi Kurosawa. Strong performances from Sho Aikawa, Susumu Terajima and Ren Osugi, combined with a wacky plot make for surprisingly fun film. The styling is bland, to be expected from a TV production, but the cast and plot make well up for that.
Fifth entry in Kurosawa's Suit Yourself series, the final one for me. One of the better ones too, with flashes of Miike and Kitano that bring some extra flair to the film. The setup and vibe should be familiar by now, Kurosawa doesn't change too much there, he just puts his main characters in a different situation.
Aikawa and Maeda run into a girl who just happened upon a trunk full of heroin. They come up with a plan to sell the drugs and in no time they have a couple of buyers lined up. They try to take advantage by driving up the price, but the people they're dealing with aren't really happy when they find out they're being played.
Aikawa and Maeda's schemes to get rich are pretty fun, the comedy is goofy and enjoyable, the pacing is slick and there are some memorable scenes. Its TV roots are still quite obvious, but a good cast, entertaining vibe and short runtime make sure that this never becomes a big problem. Good fun.
Kiyoshi Kurosawa's invasion flick is not so much about aliens, instead it's more about humanity. Some nice ideas and interesting scenes, but overall the atmosphere is a little lackluster and the tone of the film is surprisingly jolly. Not his best work, but still above par.
Weird follow-up to Before We Vanish. It's not a sequel, not a prequel, almost a remake but not quite. Kurosawa delivers an alternate version of his previous alien film, one that shows more similarities than differences, but still works as a seperate film. The film itself is decent, but overly long.
The fourth entry in the Suit Yourself of Shoot Yourself series is another amusing crime romp. Kurosawa shot these six films in a period of two years time, so it's no surprise that the quality is pretty consistent. It's light entertainment that was able to rise above its humble origins thanks to a great cast.
Yûji likes a gamble from time to time, but his partner is infinitely more lucky than he is. It gets on Yûji's nerves, whenever he tries to outdo his partner luck isn't on his side. Things are looking up when he finds 10 million yen, what Yûji doesn't know is that the money belongs to the Yakuza.
Sho Aikawa and Koyo Maeda form a great pair, the brisk pacing is well appreciated and the light atmosphere makes the film extremely easy to digest. It probably won't make many people's best-of lists when they consider Kurosawa's oeuvre, but it's perfect filler material that easily succeeds in what it set out to accomplish.
The second entry in one of Kiyoshi Kurosawa's lesser known franchises. It's not too surprising the Suit Yourself of Shoot Yourself films never became a big success, it is after all a series of Japanese TV films. The lighter tone, the excellent cast, consistent quality and short runtimes make this a franchise well worth exploring.
Yûji's latest assignment involves tailing the daughter of a Yakuza boss. He finds out the girl is hooking up with a boy in secret, something her father doesn't appreciate in the least. After this discovery, he offers Yûji a big lump sum of money if he captures the boy and brings him in.
Show Aikawa is a great lead, with actors like Sabu and Ren Osugi backing him up Kurosawa was able to assemble a great cast. The film isn't too serious, the story isn't dragged out unnecessarily and even though it lacks a little visual flair, the entertainment value is high. A solid entry in a solid series.
Fun and quirky little crime comedy. The Suit Yourself films may be developed for TV, but the acting talent is top-notch and Kurosawa's direction is on point. While essentially little more than simple genre exercises, the tone is just right and the mix of comedy and gangster business is pretty entertaining. Solid.
Worthy but flawed
Kurosawa is struggling lately. His latest is an interesting attempt to bring two nations together, but the result is equal amounts culture clash and xenophobia, that doesn't have much to add to what's already out there. There are some individual scenes that stick out, but overall it's just very basic and expected.
Kurosawa's latest is a big disappointment. My expectation were pretty low going in, as the promo material was pretty clear about what type of film this was going to be, even then it felt lazy, uninspired and obsolete. Kurosawa might want to take a good, long look at his work and try to reinvent himself again.
Wife of a Spy is a rather sluggish and tradition wartime thriller. Yusaku and Satoko are a happy couple, but when Satoko finds out her husband is working against the Japanese government their lives take a big turn. She wants to get involved too, but Yusaku isn't too keen to put his wife in danger.
The performances are decent, Aoi and Takahashi are seasoned actors, but that's not enough to keep this film interesting. The cinematography feels outdated, the plot is predictable and the soundtrack is uninspired. It's yesteryear's cinema, no surprise then it did manage to steal some critical acclaim and festival prizes. Subpar considering all the talented people involved.