Yoshida’s first feature follows the lives of young students against a background of jazz, emptiness and boredom. The plot is fairly simple: a “good-for-nothings” from a poor background falls in love with the young secretary of his rich friend’s father. The woman senses good in him and tries to lead him on the right path. But to paraphrase Roger Ebert: it’s not what a film is about but how it is about it. In the case of Rokudenashi, beautiful lighting and composition highlight this early work of the Japanese New Wave.
A legendary figure of the postwar Japanese cinema, Yoshishige Yoshida (b. 1933) is one of Japan’s most artistically ambitious, politically astute and influential filmmakers. Yoshida is best known for his work with the spellbinding Mariko Okada (b. 1934), one of the most beloved and celebrated actresses of her generation, and one of the great stars of the Japanese New Wave. Working together with Okada, Yoshida created an incredible body of films unparalleled for their formal sophistication, philosophical depth and sheer beauty. Underappreciated in this country, Yoshida is rightly considered in Japan and Europe, and especially France, among the preeminent masters of the modern Japanese art film.
Yoshida’s first passion, and the focus of his studies at Tokyo University, was French existential philosophy and literature, a training which deeply informs the intellectual rigor of his subsequent film work and later writing on film and art. By chance, or destiny, Yoshida was drawn into… read more