4/10 | 9.May.12
Sakura no mori no mankai no shita | 桜の森の満開の下 | Under the Blossoming Cherry Trees
DIRECTOR: Masahiro Shinoda | WRITERS: Ango Sakaguchi, Masahiro Shinoda, Taeko Tomioka | CAST: Tomisaburô Wakayama, Shima Iwashita, Hiroko Isayama, Kô Nishimura | Japan
Under the Blossoming Cherry Trees feels a bit like it could be Masahiro Shinoda’s 90-minute and very Japanese contribution to the old TV anthology series Night Gallery. Apparently based on an ancient Japanese legend about a murderous female evil spirit who dwells under blossoming wild cherry trees, the movie is set in old-timey Japan and deals with a Mountain Man (that’s the character’s “name”), the beautiful married woman whose husband he kills before abducting her and making her his tenth wife, and the revenge or whatever it is that she takes on him. The acting is serviceable, although Shima Iwashita again is fascinating to watch, and the movie zips right along but there’s something cheap and TV-ish about it. Shinoda can’t help but throw in some of his patented directorial quirks, including show-offy lateral dolly shots, but the film as a whole feels underdirected. If you want to watch naughty princesses and pederastic Buddhist monks have their heads lopped off, or better, a strikingly attractive woman play out her sexual fantasies by masturbating with fake-looking severed human heads, this is the movie for you!