The good stuff
Pink and Gray is a pretty great film, but some familiarity with the director will definitely help you to appreciate it to its fullest.
Considering the film as a whole it's not that much different from a normal feature-length Japanese drama, though the change in characters and perspectives do add some welcome variation.
Parade is quite a lengthy film and the first hour you might be excused for wondering what all the fuzz is about.
It's not always easy tracking down Yukisada's films, but for fans of this type of films it's definitely worth the trouble.
Theater: A Love Story
A sweet but rather familiar romance by Yukisada. In recent years Yukisada's been exploring some different genre niches, with Theater: A Love Story he seems to return to what he knows best: a solid combination of romance and drama. It works well enough, but at this point I expect more (or something different).
Nagata is a play writer for an underground theater group. He's somewhat of a recluse, but when he meets Saki he has finally found someone he can open up to. He's finally able to write a popular play and the relationship between the two seems to be going into the right direction, until Nagata starts sabotaging himself.
Performances are great, the film looks nice and the score is very pleasant. There's really nothing wrong with this film, except that I've seen Yukisada do the exact same thing better in the past. His latest is just very safe and by the numbers. It's perfect filler when you're looking for quality drama, but it didn't get to me the way his best work can.
Lately Yukisada's films have turned a little grittier. River's Edge has dark edges that I'm not used to seeing in his films. Yukisada handles it well, though the 90s setting (ugly 4:3 screen ratio included) feels completely superfluous. Good performance, good drama and some poignant moments, but it lacks that little extra.
A typical Yukisada film. A solid mix of drama and romance, some tougher themes and soft styling. If you've seen some of his other films, you'll know what to expect. Good acting, fine camera work and some touching moments without becoming too sentimental. A bit too long though, but otherwise very good.
Five Minutes to Tomorrow
Solid Pan-Asian romance that turns mystery halfway through. Yukisada is a great director and aces both genres, but the combination is somehow less than the sum of its parts. The two parts never quite gel together and I would've preferred it if the film had stuck to the romance. Still, there's plenty to like here, so well recommended for fans of Yukisada's work.
Into the Faraway Sky
Snowy Love Fall in Spring
Yukisada is best known for making contemporary drama/romance cinema, but 2005 was the year that he wanted to do something different. Year One in the North and Snowy Love Fall in Spring are two films that feature a more historic setting. While not Yukisada's biggest strength, Snowy Love Fall in Spring is clearly the better of the two.
The film takes a while to get up to speed, which isn't too surprising considering the rather uptight and formal early 20th century setting. It's not really an ideal era for sprawling romance, but the second half makes up for that, when the story finally takes a turn for the tragic and Yukisada feels visibly more at ease.
Performances are strong, with Tsumabuki sticking out in a stand-out role. The rest of the cast is good too, but not quite as notable. The cinematography is classic but refined, the same can be said about the soundtrack. The film's a bit long-winding and the intro a bit long, apart from that this was a fine romantic tragedy.
Crying Out of Love, In the Center of the World
Rock 'n' Roll Mishin
Asian Three-Fold Mirror 2016: Reflections
Decent anthology, though based on the talent involved here, expectations were slightly higher. Three solid shorts, but it's all a bit expected and safe, i.e. socially conscious drama without visual excess. It's not the best use of the anthology medium if you ask me. Still, not a bad trio of shorts.
Aroused by Gymnopedies
Yukisada's entry in Nikkatsu's Roman Porno reboot. While not bad, the constraints of the genre work against the film. The drama is laudable, but there are just too many interruptions that distract from Itsuji Itao's emotional struggles.