by Stephen Mullen
There’s no romance like a doomed romance, and no one does doomed romance like Kenji Mizoguchi. Couples form, usually ill-considered pairings, and they suffer – and suffer and suffer and suffer some more. Though not always together – women suffer more than men, usually for the benefit of men, who go on to better things because of the suffering of a woman; think of The Tale of the Last Chrysanthemum, or Ugetsu, for that matter. But that is something that distinguishes Chikamatsu Monogatari from the rest. It is a tale of doomed romance, and the lovers suffer, they suffer indeed – but they suffer together, and, by Mizoguchi standards, the ending (this isn’t exactly a spoiler, since the film is also known as The Tale of Crucified Lovers) is a positively joyous one. They die, yes, but they die together.
It is a convoluted tale, set in 17th century Kyoto, derived from two classic Japanese authors, Chikamatsu and Saikaku. A woman, Osan, is married to a printer – the Great Printer of Kyoto. She has a useless brother who begs money from her, but her husband is a cheapskate; her husband also lusts for a maid, Otama – who pines for Mohei, the printers best employee; Otama tells Ishun (the printer) that she and Mohei plan to marry, hoping he will leave her alone – it backfires, and he just grows jealous. Mohei, meanwhile, is kind of Osan, who asks him for help for her brother – he is glad to get her money, but he has to embezzle it to get it. A co-worker catches him, and tries to blackmail him – sparking repentance and honesty in Mohei, to everyone’s sorrow. He tells the Great Printer – who is already jealous, and when Otama jumps in saying he did it for her, it all gets worse. Ishun, for all his wealth, is a penny pincher and a philanderer, and here Mohei is stealing his money and his girl! So he locks up Mohei, while the women talk – and when Otama admits to Ishun’s lust for her, Osan plans to trap him by hiding in Otama’s bed – but Mohei escapes and goes to Otama (he thinks) before Ishun gets there – and they are caught together (Mohei and Osan). Ishun, fearing the disgrace to him from this, tells Osan to kill herself – instead she runs away – with Mohei. And so their fates are sealed. Continue Reading »
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Brenton Thwaites in screen capture from haunting THE GIVER, based on Lois Lowry’s 1993 Newbery Award winning masterpiece.
Capture from Lenny Abramson’s audacious and melancholy FRANK.
by Sam Juliano
Relatively mild August temperatures continue to stay the course as we move closer to the final days of the month that usually scorches. Vacations are reaching the last leg, as September and the new school year is just about two weeks away. A very difficult week, with the loss of a 64 year-old first cousin (mother’s brother’s daughter), Antoinette Rotundo, who suffered through a decades-long illness, and a bike accident in Toms River down the Jersey shore that required a hospital stay for my brother Thomas Juliano (Fairview Police Chief). Concussion, broken nose and face scrapes were the result of the mishap. After visiting my brother in the Toms River Medical Center -he will be fine but a little recuperation time at home- we all stopped down at Seaside again for their famed large slice pizzas and another brief excursion on the boardwalk.
The Romantic Countdown continues, moving closer to the two-thirds completion point. It all ends on October 6th.
Lucille, young Sammy and I (and the others for one) managed to see three films this week around the hospital visits, several wakes and my cousin’s funeral: Continue Reading »
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by J. D. Lafrance
Can men and women be friends without sex getting in the way? This is the question that When Harry Met Sally… (1989) asks and then wisely leaves up to the viewer to decide. Released in 1989, this romantic comedy is a classic example of the right people in the right place at the right time with Rob Reiner directing, Nora Ephron writing and Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan as the romantic leads with old standards re-interpreted by a then-up-and-coming singer Harry Connick, Jr. The results were amazing to say the least, launching the careers of the aforementioned into the stratosphere and creating a benchmark that every romantic comedy has since been judged by.
Harry Burns (Billy Crystal) meets Sally Albright (Meg Ryan) after they both graduate from university and share a car ride from Chicago to New York City. Along the way, they argue about the differences between men and women and Harry says that they can never be friends because sex always gets in the way, to which Sally disagrees. She finds him obnoxious and he thinks that she’s too uptight. Once Harry and Sally arrive in New York and go their separate ways, they figure that they will never see each other again. Over the years, Harry and Sally run into each other again during various stages in their lives and become friends. The film chronicles the development of their relationship. Continue Reading »
Posted in Genre Countdown: Romances, J.D.'s film reviews | 14 Comments »