Matthew Lickona 4 p.m., Feb. 17
A Taxing Woman
The jokes recognizable as such run thin rather often in Juzo Itami's third movie comedy, following on The Funeral and Tampopo. But the congenial climate of it, the constant nearness in it to a laugh, is no less evident. This derives, this time, from the imbuement of white-collar crime -- specifically, a year-round devotion to income-tax evasion -- with all the sense of menace and melodrama of a standard gang-busters movie: all the conventional briefings, interrogations, stakeouts, tailings, and trap-springings, all set to the industrious background music (with pensive saxophone interludes) of a semi-documentary tribute to the U. S. Treasury Department, and all carried to a degree of obsessiveness for which the term "obscene" comes readily to mind (helped along there by the villain's overt linkage of money and sex in his string of "love hotels" and his rotation of mistresses). And for a movie about the tax system, especially a foreign tax system, it is also amazingly limpid. Nobuko Miyamoto, Tsutomu Yamazaki. 1988.