Yakusho Koji, the Japanese star who was named best actor at Cannes this year in Wim Wenders’ “Perfect Days,” is set as the subject of a seven-title showcase at the upcoming Golden Horse Film Festival in Taiwan.
Among the septet are classic erotic film “Lost Paradise” from 1997, this year’s “Perfect Days” and 1996 film “Shall We Dance,” which was later remade in Hollywood.
A former civil servant who first ventured into Taiga drama (long-running TV series broadcast by NHK), then played in several films by Kurosawa Akira, Yakusho became a major 1990s star in Asia as a result of “Shall We Dance?,” in which he portrayed a ball room dancer, and “Lost Paradise.” He also starred in Itami Juzo’s “Tampopo.”
Directed by Morita Yoshimitsu, “Lost Paradise” is a tale of a man and a woman whose marriages no longer make them happy, but who rediscover desire in each other’s arms. Fatefully, however, their newfound joy means ever greater transgression of Japan’s strict morality laws.
At the time of the release of “Lost Paradise,” the producers deliberately darkened the erotic scenes to make them less explicit and to achieve less restrictive release classifications. Golden Horse festival organizers say that they will screen the 2019 international version in which the original look has been restored.
Yakusho went on to create a diversified on-screen persona. He was the tough criminal police detective in Kurosawa Kiyoshi’s “Cure,” the survivor from a bloody hijack in Aoyama Shinji’s “Eureka,” and a humorous and devoted woodsman in Okita Shuichi’s “The Woodsman and the Rain.” He also appears in Hollywood productions including “Memoirs of a Geisha” and “Babel.”
The festival will also play “Kamikaze Taxi,” by Harada Masato, in which Yakusho’s performance as a taxi driver trapped between politicians and mafia gangs won him the best actor prize at Mainichi Film Awards. He has been nominated 23 times for the Japan Academy Prize and won on four occasions, three as best actor, once as best supporting actor.
In “Perfect Days,” Yakusho portrays a public toilet cleaner whose meanderings became philosophical. In addition to the Cannes prize for Yakusho, the picture has been set as the opening title of the Tokyo International Film Festival in October and as Japan’s submission for Best International Feature Film at the Academy Awards.
The Golden Horse Film Festival runs Nov. 9-26.