When finds himself in an Hokkaido prison for a minor firearms possession offence, it doesn't take long for Hanawa (Tsutomu Yamazaki) to surrender utterly to the routine, arbitrary rules and the grinding sameness of life in the prison system. Indeed, he comes to find his stint in solitary confinement, cut off from fellow-inmates and with a mechanical task of creating hundreds of folded paper bags each day, a curiously satisfying experience. I liked this film because of its understated humour (not all of which is immediately obvious to Westerners) and the portrayal of the prison as a complete and self-sufficient alternative universe, with inmates simply trying to lead a kind of life that is a scaled-down version of what is on offer on the outside. It wryly observes the obsession of the prisoners with food and the occasional treat and how one can extract a sense of accomplishment in the meanest of repetitive jobs.
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