films seen
12
average score
3.45*
nationality
Japan - 45 years old
status
Alive and kicking
more info

A drama director who can't be pinned down to a particular niche, yet always manages to inject signature elements into his films. He hasn't directed too many standouts so far, but amassed a solid, quality oeuvre with hardly a slip-up.

Rare treats

Ten Nights of Dreams

by Yoshitaka Amano, Kon Ichikawa, Akio Jissoji, Masaaki Kawahara, Suzuki Matsuo, Miwa Nishikawa, Atsushi Shimizu, Takashi Shimizu, Keisuke Toyoshima, Yudai Yamaguchi, Nobuhiro Yamashita
Yume Ju-Ya
2006 / 100m - Japan
Horror, Mystery
Ten Nights of Dreams poster

A wonderful collection of shorts, visually pleasing, fun to watch and from time to time refreshingly weird.

The good stuff

Hard-Core

by Nobuhiro Yamashita
Hâdo Koa
2018 / 124m - Japan
Comedy
Hard-Core poster

I'm not a big Yamashita fan, but this mix of absurd comedy and social drama is quite something else. It kept me guessing from start to finish, it held quite a few positive surprises and the ending is simply perfect, even though it doesn't really resolve anything. Hard-Core is a very pleasant surprise, though I'm sure it's not for everyone.

A Gentle Breeze in the Village

by Nobuhiro Yamashita
Tennen Kokekkô
2007 / 121m - Japan
Drama
A Gentle Breeze in the Village poster

A very warm and gentle Yamashita film. Turbulent teenage emotions shine through in small gestures and meaningful stares, held in check by the idyllic charm of a peaceful, rural town. It's a pretty typical Japanese coming of age drama, but executed with such finesse that I loved every single minute of it.

Solid pieces

My Uncle

by Nobuhiro Yamashita
Boku no Ojisan
2016 / 110m - Japan
Comedy
3.5*/5.0*
My Uncle poster

A light but fun and enjoyable Yamashita. It's certainly not his most distinctive film, nor his most memorable, but thanks to the deadpan comedy, the well-considered direction and a standout performance by Ryûhei Matsuda this turned out to be a very capable and charming little film.

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When Yukio has to write an essay about one of his family members, his eye falls on his slacker uncle. A philosopher who just loafs around and spends his days in bed, thinking about random things. Yukio's parents are tired of his lazy behavior and send him on a blind date, which kick-starts an adventure that will take Yukio and his uncle to Hawaii.

Matsuda's character is a hoot. A calm, calculated and sneaky oddball who uses his philosophy learnings to trick people into getting what he wants. The rest of the cast is on point too, the cinematography is bright and colorful, the comedy has just the tiniest mean streak and there's a little drama to pad out the narrative. Prime filler.

Over the Fence

by Nobuhiro Yamashita
Oba Fensu
2016 / 112m - Japan
Drama, Adventure
3.5*/5.0*
Over the Fence poster

Solid drama about two people trying to build something new from the rubble of their past lives. Yu Aoi and Jo Odagiri put in spectacular performance, sadly the rest of the film can't quite keep up with them. Still worth a shot though, there's plenty to like here.

The Drudgery Train

by Nobuhiro Yamashita
Kueki Ressha
2012 / 112m - Japan
Comedy, Drama
3.5*/5.0*
The Drudgery Train poster

A very dry mix of comedy and drama, though don't expect too many overt laughs. The main character of the film is rather tragic, a loner whose family fell apart after his father was apprehended for a sex crime. Kanta is a dayworker, spends his money on booze and prostitutes and has no tangible goals in life.

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Kanta's luck seems to be changing when he meets Shoji, a more composed character who moved to Tokyo to attend school there. Things are looking up, but Kanta's troubled past is going to prove hard to overcome. If that sounds pretty dramatic, nihilistic even, it's because it is, but Yamashita's execution makes it bearable.

Some colorful characters and slightly absurd situations give the film a somewhat lighter tone. The cinematography is decent but nothing too special, the same goes for the soundtrack. Performances are strong though and give the characters the necessary weight. All in all a pretty good film, but it lacks something that makes it truly stand out.

The Matsugane Potshot Affair

by Nobuhiro Yamashita
Matsugane Ransha Jiken
2006 / 112m - Japan
Comedy, Crime
3.5*/5.0*
The Matsugane Potshot Affair poster

Yamashita likes it dry and just a little absurd, which isn't always the easiest sell. The Matsugane Potshot Affair is a film that illustrates his style very well. Essentially a comedy, mixed with some crime elements, but I wouldn't be surprised if some people mistake it for a drama (or are simply too confused to stick a genre to it).

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The film follows the affairs of the people in a remote mountain town, where everyday life is just a little cruder and rudimentary compared to the city. When one morning the police are faced with a hit-and-run victim, the ball gets rolling and the townspeople's lives are set to get a bit more interesting, even though they seem mostly unfazed by the events.

Think of this as A Simple Plan in Japan and you might get a decent idea of where the film is headed. Performances are solid, the cinematography is decent, the score a little underwhelming. All in all it's a pretty good time, if you like dry/dark comedy and you don't mind some slight absurdities, though don't expect anything too weird or out there.

No One's Ark

by Nobuhiro Yamashita
Baka no Hakobune
2003 / 111m - Japan
Comedy, Drama
3.5*/5.0*
No One's Ark poster

Early Yamashita. If you're familiar with his other films, you'll easily see some of his trademark elements popping up. No One's Ark is a deadpan drama with some absurd moments scattered throughout. It's a bit raw and unpolished still, but fans of Yamashita's later films should give this one a shot.

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A young couple commits to starting a business. They've got a health drink to sell, but their attempts in Tokyo failed miserably. So they move to the countryside to try their luck there. The problem is that the drink tastes horrible, and they don't really have a proper game plan to get their business off the ground.

Odd characters, weird turns, twists, and some completely bonkers moments add some comedy to the drama but don't expect to laugh out loud. The pacing is slow, the performances dry and the drama a little hermetic. It's a tough little cookie, but knowing what to expect, I had good fun with it.

Ramblers

by Nobuhiro Yamashita
Riarizumu no Yado
2003 / 83m - Japan
Comedy
3.5*/5.0*
Ramblers poster

A delightfully dry and elegantly absurd little comedy. There's nothing grand or particularly ambitious about Yamashito's film, but that's hardly a problem when you're happy to settle for an enjoyable 90 minutes. The biggest hurdle for Ramblers is that the comedy won't be to everyone's taste.

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If you're a little unsure about what to expect, think of a slightly less animated Kitano comedy, without the crime elements. Just two guys who end up in a dull little village and wander around, hoping to catch a break. Of course, they never do, but they get into some pretty odd situations that are good for a couple of healthy chuckles.

Visually it's not Yamashita's best, but at least the camera is nice, and he makes good use of the setting. The actors are pretty hilarious without being explicitly funny and the film is so short that the slow and deliberate pacing doesn't get in the way of the fun. It's a very nice showcase of Yamashita's knack for dry comedy.

The inoffensive

La La La at Rock Bottom

by Nobuhiro Yamashita
Misono Yunibasu
2015 / 103m - Japan
Drama, Music
3.0*/5.0*
La La La at Rock Bottom poster

A decent but pretty standard drama from Nobuhiro Yamashita. Japanese music-based dramas generally aren't the most original ones, and Yamashita does little to bend that tradition. While his qualities do surface from time to time, there's not quite enough here to set itself apart from the many films that came before.

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A man wakes up all battered, no memories of his former self. He wanders around until a sees a band performing on stage. He climbs up there, grabs a mic and starts singing. The crowds love him, but band manager Kasumi doesn't really know what to do with the guy. She takes pity on him and lets him stay at her house for the time being.

Nikaido and Shibutani put in solid performances, there are some small dramatic moments that stand out and the finale is on point, other than that though the music bits aren't that great, the story shoots off in different directions and the film fails to make a real mark. A somewhat inconspicuous entry in Yamashita oeuvre.

Tamako in Moratorium

by Nobuhiro Yamashita
Moratoriamu Tamako
2013 / 78m - Japan
Comedy
3.0*/5.0*
Tamako in Moratorium poster

Dubious filler

Linda Linda Linda

by Nobuhiro Yamashita
2005 / 114m - Japan
Drama, Music
2.0*/5.0*
Linda Linda Linda poster

Somewhat tepid and dire school club drama from Japan. The music as well as the direction is terribly mediocre, the acting is okay but not quite noteworthy. There are a few half-decent moments, but not enough to fill almost two hours of film. I'm usually a big fan of Japanese dramas, but this was pretty disappointing.