|5:00 p.m.||Sun in the Last Days of the Shogunate|
Yuzo Kawashima (Japan, 1957)
(Bakumatsu taiyoden, a.k.a. A Decadent Tale of Waning Glory). Named the fifth best Japanese film of all time in a 2009 Kinema Jumpo poll, Yuzo Kawashima’s 1957 comedy follows a fast-talking, penniless deadbeat (comedian Frankie Sakai) as he first enjoys the thrills of a Shinagawa brothel, then winds up stuck there as he tries to pay off his debt. Along the way he becomes involved with star-crossed lovers, scheming prostitutes, and even a band of revolutionary samurai, and aids them all through his quick wit. Set at the end of the Edo era, the film’s wry mood—part slapstick comedy, part nostalgic embrace of a time that will never return—can best be read through its alternate title, A Decadent Tale of Waning Glory. Cutting across a wide range of Japanese society and archetypes, embracing all things earthy, “dirty,” and sensual, this burlesque satire was cowritten by Shohei Imamura, Kawashima’s assistant, who acknowledged the director as one of the key influences on his own career.
• Written by Keiichi Tanaka, Kawashima, Shohei Imamura. Photographed by Kurataro Takamura. With Frankie Sakai, Sachiko Hidari, Yoko Minamida, Yujiro Ishihara. (110 mins, In Japanese with English subtitles, B&W, 35mm, From Nikkatsu)