A feature by Hiroshi Teshigahara (Woman in the Dunes) about the relationship between the famous 16th-century tea master Sen-no Rikyu (Rentaro Mikuni) and an ambitious warlord named Hideyoshi Toyotomi (Tsutomu Yamazaki). Adapted by the director with painter-novelist Genpei Akasegawa from the novel of the same title by Yaeki Nogami, this lavish period drama is said to raise questions about contemporary Japanese values, though the parallels were less than obvious to me. Despite the beautiful colors, it comes across as a rather static period drama, almost at times a kind of Japanese counterpart to Masterpiece Theatre. It is Teshigahara’s first feature in 17 years, and the fact that he’s mainly been involved with flower arrangement in the interim may help account for the tendency to be decorative; occasional odd and striking camera angles, while effective in themselves, often seem indulged in for their own sake rather than dramatically motivated (1990). (JR)

This entry was posted in Featured Texts. Bookmark the permalink.