When movie production company Shochiku needed a film to mark its centennial, there was really only one person they could ask. Yoji Yamada started working for the studio way back in 1954, and he has been a stalwart ever since. Now just shy of his 90th birthday, the veteran filmmaker must surely be due for an anniversary celebration himself.

“It’s a Flickering Life” (or “The God of Cinema,” as it’s known in Japanese) is an affectionate paean both to the halcyon days of the Japanese movie biz and to the audiences who are keeping it afloat today. Steeped in nostalgia, the film is given added poignancy by the fact that its intended star, Ken Shimura, died from COVID-19 just after production started last year.

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