London has been good in giving me Curzon cinemas and Curzon-on-demand. Watched so many awesome films that would never make it to the big screen in Singapore, or even AppleTV or cable-whatever. I'd pick a holiday favorite to be Ben Wheatley's wickedly funny 'Sightseers' that is so creepy in its seeming normalcy. While I don't bother much with inflight movies, I always flip through Krisworld just to see what interesting stuff there might be. There usually is one movie I don't mind watching. A 13-hour flight can include one good movie. Or a B-grade action/supernatural-something to lull myself to much-needed sleep to get over any jet-lag.
Saw 'Tenchi Meisatsu' ('The Samurai Astronomer') by Yojiro Takita on the list and turned that on. Yojiro Takita! Okay! Didn't know a pip about the actors. They looked better than they could act. So I assumed that they must be the popular actors of the day. Had to google later about them later. Hahaha. So they are indeed the current exciting scandal of Japanese movieworld. Junichi Okada who played the lead role of Yasui Santetsu, and Aoi Miyazaki who played his wife, En.
I forgave all corny acting. It was the director who had caught my attention. His last film was the stunningly moving 'Departures'. This new film is completely different from that. Adapted from Tow Ubukata's novel about a historic figure Harumi Shibukawa (1639-1716), a Math whizz in 17th century Edo Japan. It was the period of the Shogunate and samurais, anti-Christian sentiments and expulsion of foreigners, and an edict in place for a closed-door policy in foreign relations. Harumi Shibukawa was was known to have revamped the Japanese calendar to a more accurate version to predict eclipses and stellar activity, and interpret celestial movements.
Sounds dry? Of course. Depends. Math? Yea. Stars and the skies, not at all dull. But it's Yojiro Takita. He spins fabulous tales. His treatment of the topic and themes was superb. The film jazzed up the drama, of course. It's got a light humorous touch attending to the solemn topics in the grave matter of changing the Japanese calendar as that meant over-riding Imperial authority, while pursuing the quest for knowledge. The camera angles, attention paid to details of its costumes and sets, tight production and epic storyline of a hero made the film enjoyable.