by Chris MaGee
Despite my art house film tastes I have to admit my undying love for writer/ director Koki Mitani. Mitani's screwball comedies like "Welcome Back, Mr. McDonald", "The Uchoten Hotel" and "The Magic Hour" are about as mainstream as you can get, but how can you argue against films that make you laugh? Sometime the funnybone wins out over the intellect. Because of my shameless love for all things Mitani I was very excited to see that he is currently back behind the camera making a new feature.
This new film, titled "Suteki na Kanashibari", takes Mitani into the courtroom where a man, played by Yuko Takeuchi, is on trial for murdering the wife of a high-powered businessman. It's up to this man and his lawyer, played by actress Emi Fukatsu, to convince the judge and the jury that he's innocent. According to the man the murder was committed by a four-century-old samurai warrior who haunts his apartment, and that the murder took place while he was frozen by a case of sleep paralysis. To prove it the man and his lawyer want to call the ghost samurai to the witness stand.
Mitani promises to people this zany plot line with yet another winning ensemble cast including Tadanobu Asano, Hiroshi Abe, Kiichi Nakai, and Toshiyuki Nishida who has been cast as the undead samurai. If you look at the photo above of Mitani (courtesy of Sankei Sports) you can make out a concept drawing of Nishida's samurai character.
"Suteki na Kanashibari" has been slated for a fall 2011 Japanese theatrical release. Thanks to Tokyograph for the details on this.