Black comedy about Buddhist funeral rites suffers from the same problem a lot of 'black comedies' do: it is rarely funny (or, to be fair, maybe it's not funny to me since I am not a Buddhist). Itami has a real dry sense of humor, and his approach to the material is droll: one particular bit has the husband and wife watching a tape of the "A-B-C's of Funerals," showcasing how to express sorrow "appropriately," and in another, children bounce up and down when they see their grandfather's body being cremated (they chant something to the effect of "we see Grandfather's bones" over and over). Yet, for all the intended 'satirical' moments, it also wants the death to be poignant and touching - like when the long mistreated widow gives her final, tear-filled speech (or maybe this attempt to be serious is another stab at humor). I found little to connect with and prefer his crazed 1986 film Tampopo.
Director: Juzo Itami
Year Released: 1984