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Archive for October 22nd, 2010

(Ridley Scott, 1979)

(essay by Kevin)

There were a handful of films in this countdown that I dreaded getting assigned, and Ridley Scott’s Alien was one of them. Oh, not because it’s a bad movie (of course it isn’t!), but because what can someone like me say about the classic horror/sci-fi hybrid that hasn’t already been said by people much more adept than I?

I guess one place to start is how upon each subsequent viewing of Alien I’ve found something new to admire. I’ve seen the film at least 20 times, and I never tire of it (I even had the privilege of seeing it in the theater during its revival tour a few years back); mostly because it epitomizes classic filmmaking, and that’s something that never gets old. Like all of the great Hitchcock thrillers, Alien knows how to play the audience like a piano (to borrow Hitch’s line); it utilizes a slow burn mentality that uses the plot device of an alien life form evolving throughout the film to keep things fresh every time we “see” the alien (one of the brilliant things about the film is in the way Scott leaves much of the film in the dark, never tipping his hand as to how the alien may look, employing a kind of Val Lewton approach to the horror).

The pacing of the film is one of the primary factors in getting me to return to the film year after year. The pacing allows for the camera to really sweep through the ship and give us a sense of place. Yes, this is a science-fiction film, and Scott knows that (and its sets and exterior shots of the ship are great sci-fi moments), but at its heart Alien is a horror film; a thing-that-go-bump-in-dark slasher film – Halloween in space, essentially, and it’s one of the most brilliantly executed slasher films I’ve ever seen. (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(Japan 1934 76m) not on DVD

Aka. Tanari no Yae-chan

When I’m breaking windows 

d/w  Yasujiro Shimazu  ph  Takashi Kuwabara, Kiyoshi Terao  m  Hikaru Saotome  art  Yonekazu Wakito, Toshiro Kumurai

Yukuchi Iwata (Shosaku Hattori), Choko Iida (Hamako), Yumeko Aizome (Yaeko), Den Obinata (Keitaro Arai), Sanae Takasugi (Etsuko Manabe), Ryotaro Mizushima (Ikuzo Arai), Fumiko Katsuragi (Matsuko), Akio Isono (Seiji), Yoshiko Okada (Kyoko),  Ayako Katsuragi (Sugiko), Shozaburo Abe (glazier),

The director’s name conjures up a hybrid of two other directors, and in truth though I have only seen two films by Yasujiro Shimazu, the hybrid wouldn’t actually be all that inaccurate for there are essences of Ozu and Shimizu to be glimpsed in his work.  He’s not a name that you’ll find in many textbooks outside of his native Japan, but one only has to look at the supporting credits to see his influence, with three future directors of note working as assistant director or photographer, Keisuke Kinoshita, Shiro Toyoda and Kozaburo Yoshimura.  His influence on them has been well noted.

            The Miss Yae of the title is Yaeko, the youngest daughter of one of two families who live side by side as neighbours and really like one extended family, the Hattoris and the Arais.  The two fathers both work in the city and spend their evenings drinking sake at one of their homes, the two mothers share their troubles over a pot of tea in the afternoon and act as surrogate aunts to their respective children.  Yaeko spends time with her neighbour’s brothers, Seiji and, especially, Keitaro.  Things become complicated only when Yaeko’s elder sister Kyoko returns home after leaving her husband and sets her sights on Keitaro, and then again by the news that the Hattoris will be moving away after the father is relocated to Korea by his company.  Yaeko, however, stays behind to live with her neighbours to finish her schooling, while Kyoko runs away again.  (more…)

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