Location: Bartos Screening Room
Dir. Ken Ochiai. 2014, 103 min. With Seizo Fukumoto, Chihiro Yamamoto, Hiroki Matsukata. In Japanese with English subtitles. A love song to the unsung heroes of Japanese jidaigeki (period) films, Uzumasa Limelight stars the legendary Seizo Fukumoto (The Last Samurai) as Kamiyama, an aging actor faced with the dying of an art to which he has dedicated his life. After hundreds of deaths over dozens of years playing kirare-yaku—a professional extra in samurai films and series who customarily dies at the hands of the lead star—opportunities are drying up along with the public’s interest. Using Charlie Chaplin’s Limelight as an underlying theme, Ochiai’s film reaches lovingly into the past while also facing the realities of the present, and of the next generation, with heart and soul. “Sweet and simple. Directing with an old-fashioned tenderness toward his unassuming star, Ken Ochiai conjures a swan song to a waning art form and those who practice it,” wrote Jeannette Catsoulis, The New York Times.
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