Synopsis by Jonathan Crow
Best-known in the west for his scene-stealing performance as a obsessive cha-cha enthusiast in the 1996 hit film Shall We Dance, Naoto Takenaka is also a respected filmmaker in his own right, crafting such domestically praised works as 119 and Tokyo Biyori. Takenaka's directorial debut, Muno no Hito concerns a down-and-out cartoonist who turns to an unlikely vocation when his comic book gig goes sour. The film focuses on manga artist Sukezo Sukegawa (Takenaka), who, after his chosen career tanks and successive business enterprises go south, turns to selling rocks -- polished rocks, rocks that look like Mount Fuji and the like. From a cost perspective, his new profession is literally dirt-cheap. He fishes them out of the Tama River and has his cherubic son sell them. Unfortunately, he no one seems all that interested in his wares. Along the way, he meets a fellow rock dealer (Taro Maruse) who is very weird, and his wife (Miyako Yamaguchi), who is even weirder. The former tells him of an auction where he might just sell something while the latter tries to seduce him. Later he meets an enigmatic bird salesman (played by Nikku Roman Porno director Tatsumi Kumashiro), who tells about another way to earn money. Meanwhile, his long-suffering wife (Jun Fubuki, who seems to be in every Japanese film of the 1990s) struggles between loving her husband and hating his insane pursuit. This film based on a cult manga by Yoshiharu Tsuge won the 1991 FIPRESCI prize in the 1991 Venice Film Festival.