When I recently caught up with Mikio Naruse's Floating Clouds, I was struck not only by its considerable power but in how strongly it reminded me of a similarly structured paean to lost empires, Miguel Gomes' Tabu. Naruse's burns with the white-hot intensity of a nation still so close to its loss of status that it has not even come to terms with what was lost (or how to separate that sense of loss from what has already been idealized). Gomes' film is more analytical, using its own flashbacks to criticize the falsity of romanticized imperialism through more political contrasts. Both are great films, though Naruse's proves superior for burying its own sense of irony underneath genuine, raw humanism. Though Tabu plays in reverse, save it for the B-movie for a pick-me-up from Naruse's devastating finale.
My full piece is up now at Movie Mezzanine.