Two interwoven stories. The first is a biography of anarchist Sakae Osugi which follows his relationship with three women in the 1920s. The second centers around two 1960s' students researching Osugi's theories.
An engineer's wife returns home with a lost teenager. A man posing as her dad tries to get her back, causing the engineer to recall his youth as a revolutionary, obscured by dreamlike disruptions of time and space, fantasy and reality.
Yoshida is considered to be a leading figure of the Japanese New Wave, along with Nagisa Oshima and Shohei Imamura.
Yoshida's first film was this "Good for Nothing", directed in 1960 for Shochiku Studios. The story is centered on a group of wealthy young students whose lives are spent pretty much in emptiness and boredom. Jun, a disenchanted and poor young man, has become absorbed by this little gang. The youngsters plan a sort of prank crime by kidnapping the secretary of a large corporation which is owned by the father of the gang's leader. While Jun falls in love with Makino, the young woman, she starts to sense good in Jun and tries to lead him on the right path...
Yoshida demonstrates his talent in this early feature, showing for example great mastery of lighting and composition. "Good for Nothing" was strongly influenced by the French New Wave (in some respects, it could be regarded as a Japanese version of Godard's "Breathless") with perhaps a few nods to Oshima's "Cruel Story of Youth". The dynamic black and white cinematography announces the non-conventional mise en scène and fluid camera movements which would become the signature of Yoshida's later films. Although the director is renowned for works like "Akitsu Springs" or "Eros Plus Massacre", I prefer this early effort as it is much less "high brow" and more direct. Yoshida's fans certainly think that his later films are much more elaborate. Not a masterpiece? True. However, I enjoyed this as a well-narrated,well-played, well-filmed story, with beautiful shots of Tokyo streets. Not to mention the musical background (yes, jazz!) and the numerous references to French culture which were quite amusing. You know what?... Sometimes all this is more than enough!
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