16 April 2020 | MOscarbradley
A genuinely funny farce from the most unlikeliest of places
Who would have guessed it? A genuinely funny farce out of Japan at a time (1957) when the likes of Kurosawa, Mizoguchi and Ozu were keeping the straightest of faces, "Sun in the time of the Shogunate" was actually voted the 4th greatest Japanese film of all time by that most prestigious of Japnaese film magazines 'Kinema Junpo'. It's certainly not that; anyone of the films by anyone of the aforementioned directors would leave it in the cold but it's still a sublime entertainment nevertheless and it's easy to see why it's so popular in its own country.
The setting is a brothel in Shinagawa and the action hardly ever ventures outside. The central character is a delightful con-man known as 'The Grifter' who arrives with his friends one night but without a penny in his pocket to pay for the services they receive so he stays...and stays and stays, first to the chagrin of the owners, the girls and the customers but in time he becomes a part of the furniture, doing little deals here and there until he becomes virtually indespensible.
Of course, such a plot is as old as hills but director Yuzo Kawashima keeps it spinning along at lightening speed helped by a wonderful cast headed by Furanki Sakau as The Grifter. Even a subplot involving a group of nationalists with a plan to blow up 'the foreigner's quarters' fits perfectly into a film that, while set at the end of the 19th century, also manages to pass comment on a Japan not long out of a world war. Amazingly, it's not well-known in the West at all but it's a classic of its kind and is well worth seeking out.