Beautiful Days (1955) Poster

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Nice early drama from Kobayashi
pscamp0117 February 2014
The conventional wisdom about the director, Masaki Kobayashi's movie career is that he was forced by his studio to make a bunch of uninteresting crowd pleasers before he was allowed to make his 60's masterpieces. Well, I don't know (yet) about all of his early movies, but Beautiful Days strikes me as a movie that any director would have been proud to have directed. Sure, it's not in the same league as The Human Condition or Kwaidan, but it's still an excellently made drama.

There is not much of a plot. Most of the action revolves around three young men who have been friends since middle school but now find themselves drifting apart. That's about it. The storyline isn't really the point. The movie's pleasures come from the characters' interactions and the way they respond to the pressures caused by tough economic times, nostalgia, family pressures and disillusionment caused by WWII. The performances are all very good, but the movie is stolen by Keiji Sada who plays a jazz drummer who is trying, rather half-heartedly, to live a life of dissipation.

Again, this movie lacks the grand ambitions and social commentary of Kobayashi's later movies, but anyone looking for a solid, quiet drama won't be disappointed.
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People Are Better Than They Think
boblipton13 September 2019
There used to be four of them, but one was killed, and now the three friends are drifting apart. One became a doctor, but can't seem to hold a position for more than a year before he quarrels and leaves. Another wanted to be a lawyer, but now is a drummer at a club. The third works at a plant. Even the young lovers, Isao Kimura -- he's the doctor -- and Yoshiko Kuga find themselves drifting away from each other. Each of these four young people see themselves as failures, unable to be the good people they had imagined. So they beat themselves up, and they quarrel with each other.

It's difficult to think of the writer Zenzô Matsuyama and the director Masaki Kobayashi without THE HUMAN CONDITION trilogy coming into your thoughts, but this movie, about the large, sprawling interconnections of human beings, and how people are better than they imagine themselves, was their first collaboration. It's a good movie, too, centering itself on the lovers, but with plenty of time to investigate other characters, like Akiko Tamura as Miss Kuga's grandmother, and her friendship with the man who almost ran her over with her car. It's sprawling, it's kind-hearted and it made me think kindly thoughts about people that I don't often think.
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