Japan's more politically incorrect side is on display in naughty, but fun, contempo comedy "Nezu no ban." Shamelessly inspired by <I>rakudo</I>, a kind of ancient vaudeville that draws on traditional geisha entertainment like erotic songs and scatological games, pic will have auds chortling or leaving in high dudgeon.

Japan’s more politically incorrect side is on display in naughty, but fun, contempo comedy “Nezu no ban.” Shamelessly inspired by rakudo, a kind of ancient vaudeville that draws on traditional geisha entertainment like erotic songs and scatological games, pic will have auds chortling or leaving in high dudgeon. Asian fests are an obvious destination for this bawdy curio, but other fests may also want to take a look. Domestic release is skedded for next year.

Comedy master Shomantei (Hiroyuki Nagato) makes a deathbed wish to see a woman’s genitals. As his proteges arrange his wish (which hastens the master’s departure), subtitles are frankly funny, though not as blunt as the original lingo. Remainder of the film is a series of wakes as several pupils — and finally the master’s retired geisha wife — also croak. Audacious opening reels are hard to top, but there are still plenty of laughs to be had from most of the funereal anecdotes. Comedian-cum-helmer Masahiko Makino handles both script and actors with skill, and the film is technically solid. Title refers to the mourner who ensures a wake’s candles are kept alight.

Nezu No Ban

Japan

Production

A Kouwa Intl. Co. production. (International sales: Kouwa, Tokyo.) Produced by Tadashisa Sakamoto, Yoshie Hayashi. Executive producer, Hikaru Suzuki. Directed by Masahiko Makino. Screenplay, Sumio Ohmori.

Crew

Camera (color), Nobuyasu Kita; editor, Shinji Tanaka; music, Kou Ohtani; art director, Hidetaka Ozawa. Reviewed at Tokyo Film Festival (Japanese Eyes), Oct. 23, 2005. Running time: 108 MIN.

With

Kiichi Nakai, Sumiko Fuji, Yoshino Kimura, Masaki Sakai, Hiroyuki Nagato.
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