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Thursday, April 28, 2011

SUBARASHIKI NICHIYOBI / ONE WONDERFUL SUNDAY (1947)

It’s clear, right from the opening shots of his seventh film, that Akira Kurosawa has suddenly become a master. This may be a small, intimate film, but Kurosawa gives a bravura performance. He shows a new confidence, a ‘rightness’ in each shot, in the editing & pacing, in the writing & acting; and such a lovely heartfelt story of its times, it’s hard not to fall for it. There are echoes from romantics like Frank Borzage & F. W. Murnau in their films with Janet Gaynor, and even a huge swipe from James M. Barrie’s PETER PAN at the climax after we've spent a Sunday with Isao Numasaki & Chieko Nakakita roaming thru post-war Tokyo. The young couple are too poor to set up a home & marry, but they meet once a week to walk around their still devastated city, to dream of buying a house or renting a place of their own. Maybe they’ll splurge on a dreary cup of coffee or try to grab a pair of popular-priced symphony tickets. Kurosawa has to make do with a bit of poverty himself, unconvincing studio sets, the scrawniest string section ever to play Schubert’s ‘Unfinished,’ a few marvelous 'stolen' shots on real city streets filled with real city people. And while the narrative largely consists of these two lovebirds getting doors slammed in their face or struggling with their own unconsummated passions, Kurosawa tempers the hard knocks with glimmers of hope. At least, for those who can still believe in Tinkerbell's magic.

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