Cinema: Dr. Akagi

Directed by Shohei Imamura

He says he likes to make "messy, really human, Japanese, unsettling films," and Dr. Akagi fills Imamura's bill. The plot--a family doctor (Akira Emoto) dedicates himself to fighting a hepatitis epidemic in the last days of World War II--might suggest solemn hagiography. But Akagi boasts the loopy zest and daringly shifty tones of Preston Sturges' medical comedy-drama, The Great Moment. Akagi is aided by a morphine-addict doctor and a semi-reformed whore (smart, sensuous Kumiko Aso). This movie has it all: whales, A-bombs and some prime sexual kink. Forty years into directing, Imamura says this may be his last movie. If so,...

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