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Directors often find themselves boxed in by fan expectations. If a filmmaker who is known and loved for quirky pieces does a serious film or two, fans tend to complain he or she is sliding down a slippery slope toward dreaded respectability.

One who has blithely escaped those expectations is Nobuhiro Yamashita. His early films, such as 1999’s “Donten Seikatsu (Hazy Life),” 2002’s “Baka no Hakobune (No One’s Ark),” and 2003’s “Riarizumu no Yado (Ramblers),” were exercises in deadpan absurdity featuring loser heroes, with the sly jokes emerging from true-to-life (if inherently ridiculous) situations.

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