Glasgow Film Festival 2015: Uzumasa Limelight

Film Review by Josh Slater-Williams | 20 Feb 2015
Film title: Uzumasa Limelight
Director: Ken Ochiai
Starring: Seizô Fukumoto, Chihiro Yamamoto, Masashi Goda, Hirotarô Honda, Hisako Manda

Uzumasa Limelight is a heartfelt tribute to the samurai-saturated chanbara films of Japanese cinema, particularly the largely unsung, intensely physical pros often found in extra roles, exiting as quickly as they entered at a swish of the star’s sword.

Much like westerns in Hollywood, the genre is fading despite high-profile blips like 13 Assassins, and Uzumasa Limelight explores the plight of an elder lifelong kirare-yaku (“sliced actor”) performer when work for his skill-set dries up at the local studio. Coinciding with his professional and physical decline is the rise of a new recruit on the lot (Yamamoto), whom he bonds with as she becomes a star.

Ken Ochai’s film takes its title from Charlie Chaplin’s Limelight, in which he and Buster Keaton played fading comedians, and it has a similarly meta casting coup in its use of Seizô Fukumoto (great here), a real-life veteran of hack ‘n’ slash features for five decades (even appearing in Tom Cruise-starrer The Last Samurai). Elegiac, evocative, and often funny, this modest movie cuts deep. [Josh Slater-Williams]

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20 Feb, GFT, 8.15pm

21 Feb, GFT, 3.20pm