Winning the Special Jury Prize at the 2011 Tokyo International Film Festival and the Nippon Cinema Award at the 2012 Nippon Connection, the Woodsman and the Rain is not just for arthouse audiences.
Variety posted a positive review of the film saying:
Japanese star Koji Yakusho ("Shall We Dance?" and "Babel") plays the titular lumberjack whose life is interrupted by a visiting movie crew in "The Woodsman and the Rain," a film-within-a-film comedy-drama whose sustained charm will amuse film buffs everywhere. After competing in the Tokyo fest, Shuichi Okita's pic looks to garner respectable B.O. on its domestic bow in February; more fest slots are assured, but savvy distribs could help "The Woodsman" branch into arthouse niches offshore. Recently widowed Katsu (Yakusho) is peacefully chainsawing a tree in the middle of the deserted Nakatsugawa forest where he makes his living. A nervous, middle-aged film production assistant (Kanji Furutachi) emerges from the wilderness just as the tree is falling and, after narrowly avoiding getting crushed (spectacularly captured in an impressive wide shot), asks the woodsman to be quiet because a film crew is shooting a zombie movie nearby. [ read more ]
What the Movie is all about: An award-winning comedy starring Koji Yakusho (Eel, 13 Assassins) and Shun Oguri (Gaku, Crows Zero). Katsu, a 60 year-old lumberjack, lives in a small, tranquil village in the mountains. When a film crew suddenly arrives to shoot a zombie movie, Katsu finds himself unwittingly roped into assisting the production and is increasingly frustrated by the pushy crew, especially the young, seemingly spineless director Koichi. However, an improbable friendship soon develops between Katsu and Koichi, as Katsu comes to see joy in the filmmaking process, and gradually helps Koichi to recover his sense of self. Soon, their bond inspires an unusual collaboration between the villagers and the film crew.
Japan Times also posted a glowing review of the movie:
Yakusho once again demonstrates that he is the most versatile and adaptable of Japanese actors, playing his working-class hero with unforced authority and surprising agility. He strides up mountains as though he has been doing it all his life — or spending months on the StairMaster. Meanwhile, Oguri disguises the ikemen (pretty boy) looks that won him millions of female fans on hit TV dramas such as "Hana Yori Dango" ("Boys Over Flowers").
Most of all, "Woodsman" glows with a deep love of the movies, even ones that feature ridiculous zombie holocausts. As Katsuhiko reminds us, his eyes shining as he reads Koichi's script, there's a magic to telling stories for the camera that anyone can understand, even (or rather, especially) if they've spent their lives in forests instead of in front of screens. [ read more ]
JFilmPow-Wow also posted a positive review saying:
Watching "The Woodsman and the Rain" made me think of other great cinematic mash-ups that could have failed miserably, but didn't. Peter Bogdanovich's 1968 thriller "Targets" which put an aging horror film actor (Boris Karloff) against a new kind of horror -- a Vietnam vet turned mass murderer (Tim O'Kelly), or John Wayne and James Stewart contrasted with the young Ron Howard in Don Siegel's western "The Shootist". "The Woodsman and the Rain" could have been just another feel-good formula film in which Yakusho's character teaches the young Koichi some valuable life lessons and everyone goes home happy. Everyone will go home happy from "The Woodsman and the Rain", but it will be because this is a film that gives us the best from old and new Japanese film and allows its unlikely leading duo to teach each other. [ read more]
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