A Class to Remember

A cozy, upfront heartwarmer about a Tokyo night-school teacher and his pupils , "A Class to Remember" is a polished big-studio production that won't get much farther offshore than the vid shelf in Nipponese food stores.

A cozy, upfront heartwarmer about a Tokyo night-school teacher and his pupils , “A Class to Remember” is a polished big-studio production that won’t get much farther offshore than the vid shelf in Nipponese food stores.

Co-produced by Shochiku in commemoration of its 40th anni, pic has didactic family entertainment written all over it. Helmer Yoji Yamada, best known for directing all but two of the features in the 24-year-long “Tora-san” series, made this between cranking out Nos. 45 and 46. His last non-“Tora-san” item was the 1991 “My Sons,” also strong on traditional values.

Setting is a night junior high on Tokyo’s lower east side where longtime teach Kuroi (Toshiyuki Nishida), known as “Old Fox,” turns down his boss’s offer of a transfer to another school. While his students pen pre-grad essays on their desires and memories, flashbacks limn their personal stories.

Confection purrs along pleasantly for most of its length. Some nice light comic touches, plus Nishida’s unsappy perf as the dedicated teacher, keep the pic from stewing in its own juices. Japanese title simply means “School.”

A Class to Remember

Japan

Production: A Shochiku Co., Nippon TV, Sumitomo Corp. production. (International sales: Shochiku Co., Tokyo.) Produced by Shigehiro Nakagawa. Directed by Yoji Yamada.

Crew: Screenplay, Yamada, Yoshitaka Asama. Camera (color), Tetsuo Takaba, Mutsuo Naganuma; editor, Iwao Ishii; music, Isao Tomita; art direction, Mitsuo Degawa, Yutaka Yokoyama; sound (Dolby), Isao Suzuki. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Panorama section), Feb. 16, 1994. Running time: 128 MIN.

With: b Toshiyuki Nishida (Kuroi), Keiko Takeshita (Keiko Tajima), Masato Hagiwara (Kazuo), Yuri Nakae (Eriko), Eiko Shinya (Eomeoni), Weng Huarong (Zhang), Hiroshi Kanbe (Osamu), Nae Yuki (Midori), Kiyoshi Atsumi (Greengrocer), Kunie Tanaka (Inoda).

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