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Madadayo (2 stars)

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Madadayo

There is a very good reason why Akira Kurosawa’s final film from 1993 remains little known: it is about as bad a film as one is likely to get from a great filmmaker. Stuck with a dull central character, Hyakken Uchida (Tetsuo Matsumura), who spends most of the film pontificating and joking while all the other characters get to do no more than laugh at his one dimensional observations, we could cruelly suggest that this is an example of a director being too close to his central character to create anything fresh. For Uchida is a retired professor who’s beloved by generations of students, and the film follows him and his wife into retirement, doted on by the ex-students who regularly visit him.

With no sense of pace or purpose, the film’s narrative high point comes when a cat goes missing. Kurosawa has made some great old man’s films (Ikiru, Dersu Uzala, Ran) but this, despite the effusive Scorsese comment on the DVD cover, is not one of them. Minimal extras.

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