Thanks to a suggestion from one of your JayFlix colleagues, I ordered this 1952 black and white Japanese movie from the city library. It is considered one of Akira Kurosawa's finest films.

We first meet Kanji Watanabe in post-war Tokyo, sitting at his desk as the section chief in the city Department of Public Affairs. Methodically, he reviews reports and then stamps them. We see a group of disgruntled women try to meet with him to discuss a neighborhood eyesore. It is a swampy low-lying swale that accumulates sewage and breeds mosquitoes. They want it drained and converted into a park for their children. His underling directs them to the Parks Department.

Kanji leaves for a doctor's appointment because he is having stomach trouble. Meanwhile we watch those women sent from the Parks Department to the Department of Sanitation.

To his horror, Kanji learns he has cancer of the stomach and has about six months to live. At the same time, we watch as those women are hustled off from the Department of Sanitation to the City Engineers.

Our widowed hero tries in vain to discuss his mortality with his only son. As expected, the women are sent from the City Engineers to the Street Department.

We become acquainted with the folks in Kanji's office, along with his spoiled son and grasping daughter-in-law. He is understandably overwrought but can't find anyone with whom he can confide. We see those women shuttled from the Street Department to the City Council.

By the time the women are diverted to the Deputy Mayor's office, Kanji has struck up a mild friendship with one of his former co-workers, an energetic young woman who simply makes him feel better. From that, he is inspired to try to make a difference during his remaining time.

As I have said before, Asian acting techniques are more overwrought and passionate than our Occidental methods but the story itself is worth your patience. The actor who plays Kanji Watanabe is a fellow named Takashi Shimura, one of Kurosawa's stalwarts. You will recognize his face if you follow Japanese films. If you get this DVD from your library, you will probably be given the Criterion Edition so you will find a second disc in which Kurosawa does a lengthy interview on filmmaking. The translation is excellent (it was updated in 2002).

Big caveat: This is strictly for fans of foreign films; I liked it.