Ibun Sarutobi Sasuke | 異聞猿飛佐助 | Samurai Spy
DIRECTOR: Masahiro Shinoda | WRITER: Yoshiyuki Fukuda | CAST: Kōji Takahashi, Mutsuhiro Toura, Tetsuro Tamba, Jitsuko Yoshimura, Eiji Okada, Yasunori Irikawa, Seiji Miyaguchi, Shintaro Ishihara | Japan
I don’t know anything about samurai and ninja movies, as opposed to movies that are set in samurai times, so I have no clear sense of what constitutes a great or even a good one according to the canons of the genre. But I loved the two movies I’ve recently seen directed by Masahiro Shinoda so I decided to watch Samurai Spy. Well, it did nothing to make me a fan of the genre, but Shinoda’s stamp is all over it. Gorgeous wide- and deep-focus shots, asymmetric compositions, fantastically tight closeups, lateral dolly shots, the whole thing. Gorgeous to watch, confusing plot with an overly explicit screenplay, and starring Kôji Takahashi who has got to be one of the most strikingly handsome men I’ve ever seen. If you’re interested in reading more about Samurai Spy, a real fan has written an illustrated and very interesting multi-part study of the movie on the Vintage Ninja fansite.