Combustible Celluloid
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With: Junichi Okada, Rie Miyazawa, Tadanobu Asano, Arata Furuta, Teruyuki Kagawa
Written by: Hirokazu Kore-eda
Directed by: Hirokazu Kore-eda
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Language: Japanese, with English subtitles
Running Time: 127
Date: 06/03/2006

Hana (2006)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Zonin' Ronin

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda once made a mesmerizing and lovingly self-reflexive film called After Life (1998), about people who die and get to make films of their favorite memories before ascending to heaven. His quiet, contemplative style perfectly fit that film, but since then he has been striving for more ordinary successes. I admired his Nobody Knows (2005), about starving children, even though it was overlong and overpraised. I can't say the same for this startlingly routine samurai film, set among a band of Ronin living in a slum. One peaceful young fellow is supposed to avenge the death of his father, but instead spends his time with a beautiful widow and her son. Kore-eda applies the same style to the film, but this time it just drags the story, with its simplistic characters, out to boring proportions.

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