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Pictures of a master


"Face" ... an absorbing story of a woman.

RECENTLY, THE Consulate General of Japan in Chennai and the International Cine Appreciation Forum jointly organised a Japanese film festival, sponsored by the Japan Foundation. Inaugurating the festival Mr. Masayuki Makiya, Consul-General of Japan in Chennai said Japan and India are countries which have a healthy film culture. ``In Japan films are seen by the people not only as entertainment but also as an art which can take one to the pinnacle of glory. This festival is showing some of the finest films of director Sakamoto Junji.'' Mr. Rajagopal, vice-president of the forum welcomed the gathering. Meena, actress, lighted the traditional lamp.

Mr.Tetsuya Unno, Vice-Consul for Culture, Information and Economics, gave details of the films to be screened in the festival. Mr.Thangaraj, secretary proposed a vote of thanks.

The inaugural film of festival was ``Face'' which deals with a woman for whom life is full of challenges. She kills her sister and is forced to become a fugitive. The heroine is Fujiyama Naomi, theatre personality, to whom acting comes naturally. An absorbing film from director Junji. "Scarred Angels" is a detective story of a different kind. Mitsuru is the detective hero. He meets Takuya who is beaten up and in his dying moments tells Mitsuru to take his son to his ex-wife. Toyokawa Etsushi as the detective is adequate. Rulke Dalchi as the son Hotaru and Yo Kimiko as Kazue the mother have done neat work. ``Tokarev," is a story of revenge dealt with in an interesting way by director Junji, who is also in charge of the script. Michio and his wife Ayako lead a happy life. Michio is a bus driver. One day, when his son is kidnapped by a masked man who kills the child even after the ransom is paid.

He tries to find the couple to whom he gave the ransom and comes to know that his neighbour Matsumura is the culprit. The film now moves to the revenge part. Yamato Takeshi as Michio and Sato Koichi as Matsumura and Nishlyama Yunmi as Ayako have done the roles with maturity.

"OTE Checkmate'' is the second film in Junji's trilogy set in Shinsekai in his native Osaka. The other two are ``Dotsuttarunen" (1989) and ``Billiken" (1996). Tobita Ayumu, the hero, is a gambler who plays Shogi, the Japanese version of chess. He is always pursued by loan sharks who have given money to him. Director Junji has made sure that the tempo does not sag, chess bing the focal point. He makes the moves swift and clever that keeps the viewer's attention engaged. The big match between the protagonist Tobita and Yakura, is the climax. Akal Hidekazu as Tobita has some tricks up his sleeve. Kato Masaya as Ryuzo, Hirota Reona as Telebi and Wakayama Tomisaburo as Mitamura Sanae are the others in the cast. Photography by Ito Akihiro is above average.

``Knock Out,'' the first film of Sakamoto Junji, was released in 1989. The film is based on the life of a boxer. The hero Eiji Adachi wishes to become a boxer and works hard for it and becomes a champion. But in a fierce fight with Eagle Tomoda, he not only loses but is also forced to retire. But the fire in him is still alive. Will he make a comeback, a winning one at that? Hidekazu Akai as Eiji Adachi and Haruko Sagara as Takako Samoi are good. Music by Kazuhiro Hara certainly takes the film to a higher plane. Norimichi Kasamatsu takes the credit for the good visuals.

S. R. ASHOK KUMAR

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