Final Take is Japanese director Yoji Yamada’s love letter to 1930s moviemaking. A Shochiku production set at the company’s own Kamata Studios during the transition from silent film to talkies, it traces one woman’s journey from extra to leading player. It’s made with obvious affection and movie buffs will find it fascinating, but it plays as if Yamada was eager to make a film about the era but couldn’t settle on a story or tone for his picture.
Final Take captures the period quite well, especially in the movies-within-the-movie recreations which, rare for such things, are very well done. Even a newly-shot slapstick comedy sequence (embarrassingly adapted from Kenjiro’s originally serious scenario) is actually quite funny. The film also does a marvelous job capturing the bustle of Tokyo’s Asakusa entertainment district, and includes several scenes of benshi (silent film narrators) performing before enchanted audiences.
Final Take also does a good job putting studio life into historical context. The invasion of China by the militarist government and the ruthless crackdown on Japanese Communists plays an important part in the story, which also includes a visit to the studio by Empress Akiko (Kaori Momoi). STUART GALBRAITH IV
Yōji Yamada (山田 洋次, Yamada Yōji?, born September 13, 1931 in Toyonaka City, Osaka, Japan) is a Japanese film director best known for his Otoko wa Tsurai yo series of films.
He was born in Osaka. But because of the work of his father, who was an engineer for the South Manchuria Railway, from the age of 2 he was brought up in Manchuria. Following the end of World War II, he came back to Japan and subsequently he lived in Yamagata Prefecture.
After receiving his degree from Tokyo University in 1954, he entered Shochiku and worked under Yoshitaro Nomura as a scriptwriter or as an assistant director.
He has won many awards throughout his lengthy career and is well-respected in Japan and by critics throughout the world. He wrote his first screenplay in 1958, and directed his first movie in 1961. Yamada continues to make movies to this day.
He is a guest professor of Ritsumeikan University. —wikipedia