Saw Harakiri this weekend. Wow. Kwaidan was wonderful but this one really just worked me over, just powerful and satisfying on every level, from the tableaux to the politics to the final battle scenes
Eyes bugged out in the first ten seconds when the ronin introduces himself as belonging to the Fukushima Clan from Hiroshima.
― Milton Parker, Sunday, 15 January 2012 23:26 (1 year ago) Permalink
Oshima's Death by Hanging is a film I'm still recovering from. Might be his best, although I have much to see.
Season of recent Japanese film coming up and I just didn't do it could be a good on, following from Oshima.
― xyzzzz__, Sunday, 5 February 2012 12:51 (1 year ago) Permalink
watch Akasen Chitai (Street Of Shame) yesterday, another of mizoguchi's brothel dramas (and his last film). was much of a muchness.
what do people reckon is the most famous japanese film? (i ask because someone accused me of being obscure by saying someone looked like kyuzo from seven samurai)(i think that must be in the top 3, along with godzilla and maybe ringu)
― koogs, Sunday, 5 February 2012 13:17 (1 year ago) Permalink
spirited away prob.
― get ready for the banter (NotEnough), Sunday, 5 February 2012 13:20 (1 year ago) Permalink
I suspect that its not so much you mentioned the film but that you named one of the characters from it.
I'd add some anime - can't say I care for any of it, but Miyazaki and the like wd be the black hole in this thread. xp
― xyzzzz__, Sunday, 5 February 2012 13:25 (1 year ago) Permalink
just saw a breakdown of Miyazaki's films by earnings & Spirited Away is by far the biggest - Spirited Away 32%, Totoro 13%, Howl's 11%, Mononoke 11% etc
― zappi, Sunday, 5 February 2012 13:27 (1 year ago) Permalink
i did have to look up the name...
think the real answer may also include Pokemon The Movie. various internet lists mention Akira, which i'd overlooked. and tokyo story, which i think way fewer people have seen compared to SS.
i will ask my mum 8)
― koogs, Sunday, 5 February 2012 13:30 (1 year ago) Permalink
also Miyazaki's films have generated nearly 4 times as much money as his nearest anime directing rival, including TV series - anime market outside Japan is lot smaller than internet nerdz would have you believe
― zappi, Sunday, 5 February 2012 13:41 (1 year ago) Permalink
Godzilla must be the most famous character but the Americanized version of the original film may be more famous.
― Chris L, Sunday, 5 February 2012 14:00 (1 year ago) Permalink
watch Akasen Chitai (Street Of Shame) yesterday, another of mizoguchi's brothel dramas (and his last film). was much of a muchness. ― koogs, Sunday, February 5, 2012 11:17 PM (Yesterday)
Eyah. Would you be so condescending to another one of ford's western dramas? Most of Mizoguchi's films were geisha films not brothel films. The distinction is important, to both the characters and the film's vulgar/fresh execution, with Mizoguchi completely abandoning his long take style (contrast with his preceding Princess Yang Kwei-Fei) and foregrounding Toshiro Mayuzymi's perverse score (one of his best). Easy to see as proto-New Wave, and the last shot of the debutante prostitute nervously attempting to seduce passing men is as devastating as any of Mizoguchi's shots.
― Jedmond, Monday, 6 February 2012 00:40 (1 year ago) Permalink
Gearing up to watch Kobayashi's Human Condition over the next two weeks, all 10 hours of it. Anyone seen it? Avoided finishing the slate article comparing it to Berlin Alexanderplatz as it was dropping too many spoilers
― Milton Parker, Monday, 6 February 2012 00:52 (1 year ago) Permalink
Xp that mayuzumi score is crazy! Carl Stalling-level disjunctiveness
― Milton Parker, Monday, 6 February 2012 00:56 (1 year ago) Permalink
Xpost tried getting thru it a couple of years back but there's something about Tatsuya Nakadai's unchanging bug-eyed "I'm about to cry" expression throughout the entire thing that really irked me.
― Lawanda Pageboy (Capitaine Jay Vee), Monday, 6 February 2012 03:11 (1 year ago) Permalink
Better not watch "The Sword of Doom" then.
― tanuki, Monday, 6 February 2012 03:14 (1 year ago) Permalink
Ha! Thing is I've watched him and thought he was great in a bunch of other films including "SOD" but he was just *too much* in "The Human Condition".
― Lawanda Pageboy (Capitaine Jay Vee), Monday, 6 February 2012 04:53 (1 year ago) Permalink
XP Yep, Stalling is a perfect point of comparison - it gives Street of Shame its cartoonish swagger* and provides a real statement of intent to the opening of the film.
* Cartoonish swagger by Mizoguchi standards obviously.
― Jedmond, Monday, 6 February 2012 05:38 (1 year ago) Permalink
sorry to sound so dismissive. i've seen a few of them now and this just wasn't the best of those i've seen.
but yes, you did pick out my two favourite bits - the electronic score and that last shot, which was stunning
(there's another film where the debutante is paraded through the red line* district in her finery and that's my favourite scene of that film)
i didn't like machiko kyo's westernised Mickey, i think that's the reason for a lot of my dislike of the film. she's been great in everything else i've seen (oharu and rashomon especially. ugetsu most recently) but all those parts have been more traditional.
("red line district" being the literal translation of "Akasen Chitai", and a slightly different term to that we'd use in the west)
― koogs, Monday, 6 February 2012 09:45 (1 year ago) Permalink
gah! this wasn't her.
― koogs, Monday, 6 February 2012 09:53 (1 year ago) Permalink
Street of Shame is really really good, I don't think I've ever seen any movie about prostitution (even among Mizoguchi's oeuvre) that would deal with the subject with such complexity and care, and it was made in the 1950s. Easily my favourite movie by Mizoguchi.
It's a pretty important detail (as Koogs) that then name of the movie was changed from "Red Light District" (the literal translation) to "Street of Shame". The English title actually misrepresents what the movie is about, as Mizoguci tried to present a broader, more understanding view on prostitutes than just the "shame" aspect, even if he was critical on the exploitation of women. In some of his earlier geisha movies (like the 1930s version of "Sisters of Gion") the shame aspect and straightforward condemnation of the profession are more obvious, but by the 1950s Mizoguchi's take on these issues had become more rounded and humanist. It's sad that he died after making his (in my opinion) best movie, I think he stull would have had a lot to say.
― Tuomas, Monday, 6 February 2012 10:01 (1 year ago) Permalink
"as Koogs points out"
― Tuomas, Monday, 6 February 2012 10:02 (1 year ago) Permalink
the whole geisha thing itself changes so much between 30s and the 50s though. in the 30s it was transitioning from the courtesan to the more deregulated prostitution. and the american control in the postwar period was trying to move it into the shameful (which the japanese people weren't really feeling). i think he captures this well in his various films. (i think his sister was involved, which is why he feels such an affinity)
i did think the action of the women in this film, specifically how they were dragging people in from the streets, was a bit o_O
^ all this gleemed from several short intros on the MoC dvds i've been watching, is not a very detailed knowledge, i admit.
not seen sisters of gion, but it's part of the new box that's out at the end of the month so i'll see it soon. it also appears on amazon that those 4 double packs of later films are out soon on dual format bluray. oddly the secondary titles aren't shown in the cover shots but "Number of discs: 3" would suggest they are still pairs of titles.
― koogs, Monday, 6 February 2012 10:16 (1 year ago) Permalink
(actually, the second film is mentioned on the cover, on a simulated sticker, in white on grey, easy to miss in the thumbnail) (and the one that's paired with Sansho is, i think the one with the debutante i mentioned above in it, Gion Bayashi (Gion Musical Festival? / just "A Geisha" according to imdb))
― koogs, Monday, 6 February 2012 10:24 (1 year ago) Permalink
His sister was sold into geishadom - partly to help pay for his education. But he still patronised geishas and, as I think Rayns points out, one of his geisha's scandalised him by slicing him from neck to his lower back after discovering he was a patron of another geisha.
― Jedmond, Monday, 6 February 2012 10:28 (1 year ago) Permalink
In other words he understood the moral horror of geishadom, but he also lived in a society that normalised them - geishas fascinated him, he picked at them like a sore.
And yes I was equally irritable. I do think Akasen Chitai is one of his greater films, and it is frustrating to know he died just as he was striking out in a new direction away from the ossification of Princess Yang Kwei-Fei (which I like, but I can't deny it has the qualities you'd expect of a film made mainly to see how a particular film stock handles plum purple).
― Jedmond, Monday, 6 February 2012 10:40 (1 year ago) Permalink
> Princess Yang Kwei-Fei
watched this tonight but probably need to revisit the last 30 minutes again. so many pastel colours... was pretty, but slight.
and tony rayns points out in his introduction that it's not Princess in the title but Royal Concubine. and it was called 'Yokihi' on the Moc dvds.
think the MoC booklets that come with the films are almost an encumbrance rather than an extra. don't think i've managed to read a single one. must get around to that next time i'm between books.
― koogs, Tuesday, 7 February 2012 21:29 (1 year ago) Permalink
Watched The Crucified Lovers last night. So great.
― tanuki, Tuesday, 7 February 2012 21:38 (1 year ago) Permalink
(i asked my mum, she had nothing. told me about having talked to someone in the pub who'd watched 'the last samurai' recently. and did recognise 'seven samurai' when i mentioned it.)
― koogs, Monday, 13 February 2012 09:38 (1 year ago) Permalink
Sisters of the Gion — excellent.
― tanuki, Friday, 24 February 2012 05:06 (1 year ago) Permalink
(the new mizoguchi box set with that in has been delayed a couple of weeks)
but i watched Equinox Flower, ozu's first colour film, and it was obvious he was playing with it a bit - bright red objects in nearly every frame. story all very familiar though.
― koogs, Friday, 24 February 2012 08:00 (1 year ago) Permalink
Don't think any documentaries have been mentioned:
Kazuo Hara - Extreme Private Eros
Noriaki Tsuchimoto - Minimata: The Victims and Their World. This one is something - follows the victims 10+ year fight to have a chemical company bought to account for their pollution and destruction of lives, families and communities leading to the victims storming the shareholders meeting. It is VERY cleverly put together - Tsuchimoto actually isolates the woman's distressed cries and speech and scream at the president of the company and it totally works - one of the most manipulative and yet powerful sequences in cinema I can think of, an effective (to say the least) climax to all the testimonies of physical pain, mental anguish, social discrimination and government's failure to act.
Never has the traditional bowing motion been cast in a more disgusting light - its all these suits want to do!
I speak of Tsuchimoto's manipulation, but just in the sense that all film/documentary is a manipulation in the first place - and how you can harness that. Aesthetically its quite striking; the print I watched was awful but a restoration will surely bring back the elegance of those sunsets and fishing scenes. He is overall exemplary when leaving scenes of burnt and severely crippled flesh, insanity, paralysis he is truly unflinching as the best of 'em; but also respectful and he never stoops to the personal observation or (god forbid) Micheal Moore style clowning.
― xyzzzz__, Friday, 24 February 2012 22:55 (1 year ago) Permalink
The Kazuo Hara is v barmy - just talked about it on some other thread. Seeing these back-to-back you think 70s cinema really was the most incredible thing. That is said of film, but rarely of documentaries.
― xyzzzz__, Friday, 24 February 2012 22:57 (1 year ago) Permalink
I'll be hunting for some Shinsuke Ogawa.
The New God also looks p good.
More Japanese doc recommendations would be welcome.
― xyzzzz__, Friday, 24 February 2012 23:08 (1 year ago) Permalink
^^ thanks for recommending this, really can't say I've ever seen anything like it. profound film.
― Milton Parker, Friday, 24 February 2012 23:11 (1 year ago) Permalink
No probs: The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On is also incredible btw (saw it on TV years ago).
― xyzzzz__, Friday, 24 February 2012 23:14 (1 year ago) Permalink
'emperor's naked army' is on some dateline shit, it's p goodim intrigued by the 'extreme private eros' rec also
― johnny crunch, Friday, 24 February 2012 23:18 (1 year ago) Permalink
Looking fwd to some Terayama:
― xyzzzz__, Saturday, 17 March 2012 09:47 (1 year ago) Permalink
This ws worth a watch, Terayama has an eye for composition for a scene -- one where he is playing chess with the character representing his 13 year old self, somewhere in the country with people moving about in a pleasing yet enigmatic way (it is dreamland), sudden switches from colour to one colour filters depending on the bit of dialogue, then an appearance and 'mad' speech by Japanese singer Kan Mikami (this ws great to see, as someone who heard his music years ago, need to pull out the recs I have after I fire this off). REally good 10 min scene.
Tate did kind of fuck up the context -- it ws meant to be a dbl bill aroudn mothers, and while the film is about Terayama's relationship w/his mother at times the dominant theme is the strong childhood memories you attain and cannot shake off -- despite trying to re-order them in fiction and film-time. The landscape of the memory cannot be altered -- and this programme ws orig titled Landscape Theories of the Past). They've taken it off the site but originally it ws a dbl bill w/Oshima's The Man Who Left his Will on Film, which makes sense. This ws a not-quite Mothers Day thing -- v fkn art gallery, unfortunately.
The booklet is good, making my way through an exchange between T and Mishima.
Back to Terayama -- which is a tick from me, need to see some more features.
― xyzzzz__, Saturday, 17 March 2012 23:43 (1 year ago) Permalink
re: Terayama. On the minus side there ws a bit made of his taboo breaking blah and I'm not sure that really registers, which is fair enough, its bound to age. Some of the songs don't quite work, sadly. More pluses in that I really liked some of his poetry and -- quite a big theme from the booklet I picked up -- his desire for a theatre in/from/of the streets and open spaces was well communicated. The last shot is a manifesto for that.
I watcched Ogawa, quoted pulled from the article above:
But first, a quick overview of the Ogawa story: After a couple of films cataloguing issues relating to the student and civil unrest that was occurring in Tokyo following the extension of the Japan-America Joint Security Pact (or Anpo treaty), Ogawa Pro's filmography falls fairly neatly into two halves. The first consists of the monumental seven-title series released between 1968-73 and beginning with The Battle Front for the Liberation of Japan -Summer in Sanrizuka, which chronicled in gargantuan detail the struggle between local farmers against the government's decision to build Tokyo's new Narita international airport on their land, a time described by Nornes as "one of the most traumatic social struggles in modern Japanese history." The peak of the protests, captured in the film Sanrizuka - Peasants of the Second Fortress (1971) ("the Seven Samurai of social protest documentaries") saw the farmers' ranks swelled by hordes of sympathetic students and members from radical leftist groups; a grand total of some 20,000 protesters amassed against 30,000 police. It's no exaggeration to say that Japan was effectively in a state of near civil war at the peak of the Narita protests.
Watched Peasants of the Second Fortress. I can see the Seven Samurai thing as they are defending their space, just that the peasants digged tunnels and tied themselves to trees!! And, of course, no one saves the day. The copy I had was on its last legs, the subtitles were therefore hard to read at times, and what ws there in itself was incomplete but there was enough visual meat -- in one of he conversations between the peasants there is a bit about how 'mundane' protests scenes are and I think that is where the comparisons to film depart. This film revelled in mundaity and grit: thing looked like, well...at times like last summer's riots in London -- a carnival of mundane destruction ('cept it wasn't summer, and here the sympathies are with people fighting for the right not to be moved). Not sure it felt like civil war, like the quote says, but when peasants who admit they aren't 'educated' have suddenly seemed to learn almost all they need to about power and politics through their experiences it felt equally seismic somehow.
― xyzzzz__, Sunday, 18 March 2012 00:06 (1 year ago) Permalink
watched Chikamatsu Monogatari and Uwasa No Onna. both for the second time. just Sansho and Gion Bayashi left to watch from the late mizoguchi box.
new mid-period Artifical Eye Mizoguchi box has arrived too. oh, artificial eye, why you print the titles on the sides of your dvds the wrong way around? and whilst the Eureka! dvds all have lavish booklets the AE came with nothing. (but maybe there are extras on the discs.)
― koogs, Sunday, 18 March 2012 09:24 (1 year ago) Permalink
Couple of MIzoguchi films at the ICA in Apr -- haven't seen Sansho so will wait to check out those tracking shots on the big screen next month.
― xyzzzz__, Sunday, 18 March 2012 09:47 (1 year ago) Permalink
kurosawa crime drama box set has arrived. not seen any of them. am a bit fearful tbh, don't really know what to expect. but all the kurosawa boxes are cheap on amazon at the moment. £15 for the samurai box is a bargain.
haven't watched any of the aforementioned mid-period mizoguchi either.
bought the new miike yesterday, his remake of Hara Kiri. bought it in the supermarket, because i could.
― koogs, Thursday, 10 May 2012 13:48 (1 year ago) Permalink
Shindo obit from the guardian.
― koogs, Sunday, 3 June 2012 09:11 (11 months ago) Permalink
Sight and Sound tribute
Looking forward to the season.
― xyzzzz__, Sunday, 3 June 2012 09:26 (11 months ago) Permalink
There are a bunch of not-so-terrible Japanese films up on yt at the moment.
― Muschiaufstand (CONGO, M.D.), Monday, 10 September 2012 23:09 (8 months ago) Permalink
Yup, watched four of Mizoguchi's films this week, and more to come.
Koji Wakamatsu passed away after being hit by a taxi!
Whatever you think of their rough-and-ready quality (and I've only seen a couple) (either in the way they were made, or their politics) I really liked his shit-stirring ways.
He helped get In the Realm of the Senses made, too!
― xyzzzz__, Friday, 19 October 2012 19:16 (7 months ago) Permalink
Is When a Woman Ascends the Stairs? anywhere on yt?
― xyzzzz__, Friday, 19 October 2012 19:38 (7 months ago) Permalink
So been watching loads of Mizoguchi:
Five Women Around Utamaro (1946)A Geisha (1953)The Crucified Lovers (1954)A Story of Late Chrysanthemums (1939)
Five Women... is a good counterpart to a story of late chrysanthemums, in its depiction of (male) artists as a vampiric species.
A Geisha is a side of Mizoguchi I'm hoping to explore more this coming week -- i.e., more contemporary: the way men use women outright by their bodies, and his outrage that Geishas weren't seen as prostitutes (Prostitution was made illegal in '57, a year after M's death). You could say the others are offset by an 'its all kinda of ok if the art is good'; not saying this is the case but its far more conflicted, as oposed to the Geisha dramas which involve a businessman groping a woman 30 years younger than him (and when you watch these back-to-back the flesh crawls as you see repeatedly the way men touch and avail themselves to women).
For all of the above I'll go w/The Crucified Lovers as something he possibly may not improve upon, for my eye. Maybe its the feeling of relief after watching tale after tale depicting a complete failure of relations between men and women that he is able to bring to conjure up an adaptation of a story of the organic growth of such utter love and devotion in such a convincing manner. It even tops ...Crysanthemums in the way the relationship turns to something cordial and master-and-servant (here it helps the story is set at an earlier era in Japanese history) to a partnership of equals in an instant. The music is punctuating: best moment is the strings beginning as the fugitives in their first night together discuss whether they should sleep in the same room.
And The acting really makes this, the way the two of them express their love with enough measure of suffocation to bliss, to switch seamlessly to utter sadness, and then to surpise w/the look of pleased evil in their faces as they march to their deaths. Perhaps revelling in the scandal and the fuck-you to family and duty they were somehow meant to follow (to know your place and serve your disgusting master) but just pleasure and contentedness that they are able to die together. Really great moment in cinema.
― xyzzzz__, Friday, 19 October 2012 22:18 (7 months ago) Permalink
> his outrage that Geishas weren't seen as prostitutes
mizoguchi's outrage? that not the impression i got from the various intros to the dvds i've seen which seemed to say he was sympathetic. i think we covered this upthread.
― koogs, Saturday, 20 October 2012 09:36 (7 months ago) Permalink
Just went back to the posts. That article I linked to he calls hs last film Red Light District. My impression is enforced by watching his non-Geisha films, so in the Crucified Lovers the male lover stresses that he would never spend money on a Geisha. Not that he was utterly "correct" as in later on, when discussing the random lovers as they are paraded for their punishment he responds to accusations that the law is on the side of men by saying they broke the law.
From the posts upthread he might have been conflicted but all I saw were bits of not too subtle rage: Geishas were a relic of the past that somehow survived for the pleasures of men, and for tourism (the head former Geisha (in A Geisha compares their partic form of Geishadom to the Japenese tea ceremony). And I observed that disgust Mizoguchi manages to insert in many of his films in the way (usually older) men grope women.
I've yet to find any sympathy but as I said I'll watch a few more of these..
― xyzzzz__, Saturday, 20 October 2012 10:38 (7 months ago) Permalink
afaik mizoguchi's sister was a geisha and helped pay for his education (or some such)
― bryan "radical" ferry (clouds), Saturday, 20 October 2012 12:17 (7 months ago) Permalink