a page of madness

film writing by nicholas vroman

Hajimari no Michi / Kinoshita Keisuke Story / はじまりのみち

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ORG_20130322000101In the centennial of his birth, director Keisuke Kinoshita’s legacy is being promoted and marketed without much thought to how his films have aged (not all that well). Kinoshita was a solid hack in his heyday (late 40s – 60s), producing quality product that now serve more as cultural windows rather than great films. Even his “masterpiece,” The Ballad of Naramaya is much better in Imamura’s 1983 remake – though credit must be given to Kinuyo Tanaka’s amazing performance in the original.  Hajimari no michi follows a crisis point in Kinoshita’s life, when returning from the war, he questioned whether he should continue as a film director. True or not, it makes for an interesting premise. The fiction pulls images and situations liberally from Kinoshita’s films as Kinoshita (Ryo Kase) treks across the Japanese landscape carrying his ill mother (Yuko Tanaka). Director Keiichi Hara plays up the sentimentality and the facile and triumphant heroism of the tale, not at all unlike Kinoshita’s own movies. Hara’s made a fitting homage – a little dull and sentimental with quality production values.

Originally published in EL Magazine, June 2013.

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