THE FUNERAL / DEATH, JAPANESE STYLE / SUDDEN VISIT CEREMONY (Lit) (OSOUSHIKI). Viewed on Streaming. The sudden, unexpected death (due to a heart attack and subsequent inadequate hospital treatment) of a retired brothel owner (he "sampled the merchandise" while his wife "did all the cleaning") sets the stage for Director Juzo Itami's (who also wrote the screen play and is a co-producer) collection of scenes/skits tied to a traditional three-day Buddhist funeral involving a reunion of family members plus an attendant assortment of friends, neighbors, mistresses, service providers, strangers, and a neko (cat). Itami's subtle and wry humor often focuses on the details such as step-by-step learning proper funeral etiquette (complete with an instructional video) and a technical brief on the art of cremation, but the Director also throws in a woodland sexual romp, the arrival of a Buddhist priest (played by the venerable character actor Chishu Ryu) in a Rolls-Royce stretch limo, a dragon hearse (a must see!), endless food planning sessions, the challenge of outdoor cash-donation management in windy weather, and a mindless, meandering final eulogy by the widow who goes on and on about being mistreated at the hospital. Itami seems to be implying that family reunions for any reason are not really a good idea! (sou desune.) This is a film often over burdened with a plethora of detail as well as an over abundance of anecdotes and episodes, and, as a result, can become slow and just plain boring. The cast is way too large, and the viewer will need a score card to keep track of who is whom (there is even a line or two about not knowing everyone in a crowd scene!). Nobuko Miyamoto (the Director's wife) looks great (without being plastered with makeup) and is a would-be star. However, she ends up being marginalized and lost in a tidal wave of performers who are also pretty good actors. Lighting continuity is uneven with exterior night scenes under lit to the extent of turning players into shadows! At the end, the bereaved family is relieved. Perhaps the viewer will be also? WILLIAM FLANIGAN, PhD. Details: streaming/
restoration (FilmStruck) = 4 stars; direction = 3 stars; performances = 3 stars; cinematography (semi-wide screen, color) = 3 stars; production values = 3 stars; score = 3 stars; subtitles = 3 stars; lighting = 2/3 stars.