The Kinoshita Project is a chronological look at all the Keisuke Kinoshita movies available on Hulu Plus from Criterion.
The Kinoshita Project, when it’s all over, should cover about 30 films; that is, of course, unless Criterion adds more titles going forward. Up to now we’ve seen relative consistency in Kinoshita’s directorial abilities. He’s got the skills to make even the dullest of war propaganda films play compellingly for 90 minutes, which is no small feat. And even in his lesser post-war efforts, Kinoshita’s films have benefited from good performances and solid storytelling.
And so it is with some disappointment that I must report that Fireworks Over the Sea marks the first genuine, from beginning to end, dud for The Kinoshita Project. The problem, as I see it, is in the script. No amount of slick directing, grand cinematography, or fancy editing could save this horrendous tangle of inconsequential characters and convoluted situations. The film, clocking in at just past the two hour mark has all the narrative density of a soap opera and none of the sex. Kinoshita picks characters up and puts them back down like an ADHD child in a toy store. And by the time the movie is over, none of these characters have even begun to matter to us; we’ve seen them only in slight flashes, always accompanied by some ready cliché about romance, sacrifice, and blah blah blah. Great actors – Chishu Ryu, for instance – are just thrown to waste here and, quite honestly, it’s depressing. Continue reading