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Archive for March 19th, 2009

 photo_28_hires

by Sam Juliano

Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s previous films could be characterized as dark, eerie and perverse, and blood and violence have often been part of the mix.  In his film Bright Future, a family is massacred, and in his critically-praised The Cure corpses pile up, spurring an intense search for an elusive serial killer who leaves a similar mark on the throat of the victims.  The director’s new film, Tokyo Sonata, is devoid of the ghastly happenings of the large body of his work, and it is marked by some dry humor, but it’s nonetheless an unsettling experience.  The petrifying events of the earlier films are metaphorically ascribed to some of the deceits, accidents and criminal activity that decimates a family unit.     

Kurosawa’s new film is set amidst economic turmoil, a turbulent time when there is regular outsourcing of supervisory posts to recently-graduated outsiders, many arriving from China.  Ryuhei Sasaki is forced out as a result of this scenario, but he can’t tell his wife and two sons, and he proceeds the following day to feign his work schedule, but instead spends the day hanging out at a park, reading and negotiating handouts from a local soup kitchen.  He eventually runs into an old -friend named Korosu, who is soon revealed as another jobless mountebank.  Korosu brings Ryuhei to his home for dinner and announces him as a co-worker, but his ruse can only continue as long as his severance pay holds out.      (more…)

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 ace-in-the-hole

by Allan Fish

(USA 1951 111m) DVD1

Aka. The Big Carnival

The Leo Minosa Rescue Fund

p/d  Billy Wilder  w/story  Billy Wilder, Lesser Samuels, Walter Newman  ph  Charles Lang Jnr  ed  Arthur Schmidt, Doane Harrison  m  Hugo Friedhofer  art  Hal Pereira, Earl Hedrick

Kirk Douglas (Charles “Chuck” Tatum), Jan Sterling (Lorraine Minosa), Porter Hall (Jacob Q.Boot), Robert Arthur (Herbie Cook), Richard Benedict (Leo Minosa), Ray Teal (Sheriff Gus Kretzer), Frank Cady (Mr Federber), Lewis Martin (McCardle), John Berks (Papa Minosa), Frances Dominguez (Mama Minosa),

Considering that Billy Wilder is commonly and quite rightly regarded as one of Hollywood’s all-time great directors it is quite surprising that one of his masterpieces seems never to be acknowledged as such.  By not being acknowledged I am not talking about how it is viewed in film guides and magazines, who invariably give it the highest marks, but in terms of when people come to discuss Wilder’s greatest film.  You will get votes for Double Indemnity, for Some Like it Hot, for Sunset Boulevard, for The Apartment and even for The Lost Weekend, but you will very rarely – if indeed ever- see any votes for Ace in the Hole.

            Of course this could be down to many people only knowing it under its alternative title, but I think in many ways it is suffering from the media backlash it received upon its release and which not only hampered its commercial chances irreparably but also its reputation.  Did Wilder believe that after performing a cynical autopsy on Hollywood in Sunset Boulevard that all media was fair game?  Was Wilder being naïve?  Possibly.  But if so it was the sort of naïveté from which greatness flows. (more…)

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