Friday, November 14, 2008
|6:30 p.m.||The Yellow Handkerchief of Happiness|
Yoji Yamada (Japan, 1977)
(Kofuku no kiiroi hankachi). The first of three films in our season by Yoji Yamada, best known for his Tora-san series, whose storytelling skill and deeply humanistic world view made him the people’s favorite, and earned him every Japanese cinema award there is, many times over. In Yellow Handkerchief, the handsome gangster icon Ken Takakura is in top form as a paroled murderer trying to make his way home to Hokkaido, where his wife (Yamada perennial Chieko Baisho) will either have the proverbial yellow ribbon out for him, or she won’t. But the story is in the getting there, a road trip through town and country in the company of two young people—a cowboy wannabe on the run from love, and an irrepressible girl who joins him—oblivious to the true calling of their hitchhiker. Just who teaches the other more about what it is to be human is up for grabs in this delightful film that, like all Yamada’s work, holds a mirror up to Japan that is true, sentimental but never saccharine.
• Written by Yamada, Yoshitaka Asama. Photographed by Tetsuo Takaba. With Ken Takakura, Chieko Baisho, Tetsuya Takeda, Kaori Momoi. (108 mins, In Japanese with English subtitles, Color, ’Scope, 35mm)