The rainy day in Oakland is giving me some spare time, so let me introduce myself. Rob W., 26, in the Oakland Ant on Tuesdays and Sundays. I just ate some Chinese food with a gross black egg in it. In a couple of weeks we’re going to start handing out fliers with movie reviews written by your favorite Dreaming Ant employees. I’ll give you a preview with my (slightly expanded) review of Yoji Yamada’s The Twlight Samurai.
Iguchi, a poor, slightly disheveled widower and a beurocrat of low rank, is viewed by his peers as a harmless outsider. He’s happy to live his life humbly caring for his senile mother and two young daughters. By chance he comes across a childhood love fleeing an abusive marriage, and later finds his life threatened by a call to duty he cannot resist. This is not a tale of crashing blades and bloody warriors, but rather a low key and powerful drama of a man pulled in opposite directions by the loyalties that define his life. The film is poured through beautifully calm cinematography, scenes filling with natural lighting and subdued colors, the story unfolding quietly, even gently, with sparks of humor and excitement scattered throughout. The mood reflects the calm, humble mindset of Iguchi as he meets both hardship and joy. Unlike some films I’ve seen recently with fast cuts and jittery action, The Twilight Samurai left me feeling like my eyes had drank a refreshing glass of cool water. A highly acclaimed film recommended for those who appreciate storytelling that captures you through content, substance and delivery rather than explosions, volume and special effects. If you enjoy this I highly recommend Yamada’s similar historical drama The Hidden Blade.