“The Neighbor,” the Kobayashi Brothers’ debut feature, and Akira Kurosawa’s 1952 classic “Ikiru” will be shown at the Laemmle Sunset 5, 8000 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, from Friday, Sept. 16, to Thursday, Sept. 22.
Showtimes are 1:10, 7 and 9:35 p.m. for “The Neighbor” (Japanese title: “369 no Metoshiera”) and 3:45 p.m. for “Ikiru” (To Live).
Considered by some to be Kurosawa’s greatest achievement, “Ikiru” presents the director at his most compassionate — affirming life through an exploration of a man’s death. Takashi Shimura portrays Kanji Watanabe, an aging bureaucrat with stomach cancer forced to strip the veneer off his existence and find meaning in his final days.
Told in two parts, “Ikiru” offers Watanabe’s quest in the present, and then through a series of flashbacks. The result is a multifaceted look at a life through a prism of perspectives, resulting in a full portrait of a man who lacked understanding from others in life.
“The Neighbor” is Katsuto and Kenji Kobayashi’s modern interpretation of “Ikiru.” The protagonist, Shunsuke Takeda (Tomoya Ogaki), is a local bureaucrat like Watanabe, but he isn’t just an individual humbled by the mundane day-to-day of public duties; he also lacks self-assertiveness. Shunsuke is living a life filled with isolation, like so many people in modern Japan.
His solitary life, nevertheless, attracts a young gay man, Toshiki Yoshimura (Hiyori Yuki), and an old woman, Setsu Sanada (Yuriko Abe), without any family relations. The man grows romantic feelings for him and the woman proposes marriage. For someone like Shunsuke, who prefers to be left alone, this is nothing but unwelcome company.
But learning about Toshiki suffering from loneliness to the point of taking his own life, and about Setsu being left with limited days to live, Shunsuke realizes that loving others is the true meaning behind one’s existence.
Just as death isn’t a conclusion to its story, “The Neighbor” is a human drama that depicts Shunsuke “living a life” in flashback form after Setsu’s death. It is about coming face-to-face with death and through that experience, relearning the significance of life.
The cast also includes Ayumi Beppu and Seiya Nakano.
Kenji Kobayashi founded his production company, JungleWalk, in 2004. He hopes it will enable filmmakers to preserve their vision from development and production through distribution. The difficult challenge of maintaining that stance in today’s film business is what inspired the company name.