Makino Masahiko’s new film, Nezu no Ban (a.k.a. A Hardest Night), is a touching and often hilarious celebration of the ancient art of Japanese rakugo, roughly translated as “comic storytelling”. The film is interspersed with numerous funerals and wakes, songs, dances, and often disgustingly crude jokes.
The Rakugoka – or raconteurs – have gathered to see that their master, played by Nagato Hiroyuki, is given an appropriately bawdy send off into the next World. Soon their somber memorial turns into a verbal sparring contest, as the well wishers begin telling their stories – beginning with the one about the old man’s final request. Suffice to say what he requests to see one last time while lying on his deathbed involves some rather unladylike behavior from disciple Kyota’s (Nakaii Kiichi) normally glamorous wife (Kimura Yoshino).
Makino’s film is a hilarious, raucous farce championing what is fast-becoming a dying art form in Japan. The cast of venerable acting veterans do a splendid job, delighting in this exploration of debauchery and depravity that somehow manages to compose itself in the best possible taste. Add Synopsis In Portuguese