Sunday, November 30, 2008
|3:00 p.m.||Tora-san’s Sunrise and Sunset|
Yoji Yamada (Japan, 1976)
(Otoko wa tsurai yo: Torajiro Yuyake-koyake, a.k.a. It’s Tough to Be a Man: Tora-san’s Sunset and Sunrise). Tora-san: itinerant salesman, black sheep, and a man who’s not above making kids cry. Episode seventeen in the beloved forty-eight-film Tora-san story (cinema’s longest running series), Sunrise and Sunset begins as our bumbling hero heads to his aunt and uncle’s house in the Tokyo suburb Shibamata—and gleefully leaves havoc in his wake. Walking leisurely past a group of children playing in the sun, Tora-san pounces, snags a plastic sword, and battles the kids fiercely. The film is packed with this sort of good-natured comedy; sake-fueled lunacy makes up a major part of Tora-san’s universe. During a particularly drunken evening, Tora-san befriends a grumpy old man who is not quite what he seems—and impacts his family in unexpected ways. Family forms the backbone of Sunrise and Sunset’s nostalgic look at Japanese culture. Tora-san’s family is played vibrantly by a stellar ensemble cast—a group of actors who ably communicate their unique mix of love and irritation. There are plenty of laughs, sure, but what lingers most is the film’s powerful humanity, best embodied by Tora-san (Kiyoshi Atsumi) himself—a man with a big grin and bigger heart.
—Jonathan L. Knapp
• Written by Yamada, Yoshitaka Asama. Photographed by Tetsuo Takaba. With Kiyoshi Atsumi, Chieko Baisho, Kiwako Taichi, Jukichi Uno. (109 mins, In Japanese with English subtitles, Color, ’Scope, 35mm)