Kawaita hana | 乾いた花 | Pale Flower
DIRECTOR: Masahiro Shinoda | WRITERS: Masaru Baba, Masahiro Shinoda | CAST: Ryô Ikebe, Mariko Kaga, Takashi Fujiki, Chisako Hara, Eijirô Tôno, Seiji Miyaguchi | Japan
Pale Flower is my fifth Masahiro Shinoda film in a month, which is kind of amazing given that he wasn’t more than a name to me before now. Fifth film and fifth film genre: Pale Flower is a yakuza film that corresponds pretty closely to Hollywood film noir centered on career criminals. On its surface, Pale Flower is rather formulaic: an aging career criminal newly released from prison readies himself for the next job his gang’s boss will assign to him, a job that he senses will be his last. Shinoda’s quite considerable directorial chops are mostly muted here but despite that they bear his unmistakable signature: the controlled chaos of a police raid on a gambling den (where an illegal high stakes game with incomprehensible rules is being played) that is shot in virtually no light, an attack with thrown knives by an unknown assailant at night in the rain in a series of interconnected alleyways, speedy lateral dolly shots, people framed against and through bars and bar patterns, extremely fine editing. They’re all here but they don’t quite have the impact they have in Assassination and Double Suicide. At least not for me, and not to the point where they render the formulaic screenplay irrelevant to my enjoyment of the movie. Still, a really, really good film.