Archive for November 9th, 2010

by Joel

Let the Right One In (2008) is #95 in Best of the 21st Century?, a series in which I view, for the first time, some of the most critically acclaimed films of the previous decade. Along with this film, I will also be discussing the recent American remake, Let Me In (2010) and the book Låt den rätte komma in (2004) by John Ajvide Lindqvist, upon which both are based. There will be spoilers.

On a silent, snowy evening, a taxi pulls up to a deserted courtyard. The cold, lonely apartment blocks loom overhead, watching implacably, either unwilling to share their secrets, or without any secrets to share. But one frosted window at least has a human face in it – a little blonde boy, bare-chested, uneasily gripping a knife in one hand, the other pressed up against the glass, leaving a faint imprint, a marker to shout out impotently, “I was here!” Out of the taxi steps an older man and a young girl; though together, they still seem fundamentally alone – even that lonely boy upstairs has a warm, well-lit room behind him. On reaching their own room, the mysterious couple begin covering up their own frosted window with advertising placards, flashy but vapid come-ons ironically placed to block out the world. Down in the snow bank below, a haggard man pisses in the snow, glancing up at his peculiar neighbors and wondering, perhaps, who they think they are, closing themselves off like that. Don’t they know the world will already take care of that for them? Why seek isolation?

Because, as it turns out, there are some things worse than being alone. Such as joining together in brief, violent, frenetic couplings in which one person leeches the life out of another; or even worse, befriending and assisting this very leech, quenching your own isolation only at the expense of another’s life and happiness. These islands of humanity, floating in the impersonal sea of Blackeburg, both fear and desire human contact; they need it, but they know – or will discover – at what price this need can be fulfilled. Each of these individuals is as human as the next, but at least one is something else besides: a creature of the night, a blood-craving immortal, a murderous eunuch, a vampire. And this vampire, seemingly the most innocent of the four characters, that little girl who climbed out of the taxi, can only infiltrate your defenses if you let her enter your home – without permission, she will bleed from every orifice, so that even passivity breeds violence. Yet you must be careful before granting permission. It’s not enough to let just anyone in…



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by Allan Fish

(Japan 1953 87m) DVD1/2

Aka. Gion Bayashi; A Geisha

Learning to bite one’s lip

p  Masaichi Nagata  d  Kenji Mizoguchi  w  Yoshikata Yoda  ph  Kazuo Miyagawa  ed  Mitsuzo Miyita  art  Kazuyoshi Koike, Ichizo Kajitani

Michiyo Kogure (Miyoharu), Ayako Wakao (Eiko), Seizaburo Kawazu (Mr Kusuda), Kanji Koshiba (Kanzaki), Eitaro Shindo (Sawamoto), Chieko Naniwa (Okimi), Haruo Tanaka (Ogawa), Saburo Date (Imanishi), Midoru Komatsu (Oume),

Geishas are suddenly back in fashion in the realms of popular culture.  Helped no doubt by the book and later film Memoirs of a Geisha, a film which goes down as both one of the most aesthetically beautiful of 21st century films and also most inert.  There was much to admire among the individual components of the film, from the cherry blossom pink photography of Dion Beebe to the best score of John Williams recent work and from John Myhre’s gorgeous design to Colleen Atwood’s outlandishly elaborate and deliriously colourful costumes.  There were fine performances, too, from the underrated Ziyi Zhang in the lead and a vitriolic Gong Li as the hellcat, and yet there were numerous complaints about using Chinese actresses in a Japanese story. 

            Go back fifty years and Kenji Mizoguchi was making Empress Yang Kwei-Fei, another film with elaborate physical and pictorial attributes (costumes again ranking high amongst them), and this time featuring Japanese actors in Chinese roles.  There was a fuss but not to the same degree.  There’s irony there, not least in the admission of double standards but in the fact that Mizoguchi made any one of half a dozen films on the theme of the geishas that were more powerful than Rob Marshall’s film.  One recalls the 1936 masterwork Sisters of the Gion, before recalling the film regarded as its remake, Gion Festival Music.  I say remake, but perhaps reworking is a better word.  In the 1936 film the two protagonists were sisters, in 1953 there was no blood relation at all.  (more…)

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(France 1998 22min)

Director Sylvain Chomet; Background Artist Nicolas de Crecy; Music Jean Corti; Writers Sylvain Chomet, David Freedman, Alan Gilbey

by Stephen Russell-Gebbett

No sooner have we arrived in Sylvain Chomet’s Paris, than we are taken on a tour of the City of Romance’s grimier underbelly, an ink-smudged picture postcard bearing the fingerprints, grown dirty with age, of Marcel Marceau and Jacques Tati.

La Vieille Dame et les Pigeons was Chomet’s first animated film and the influence of mime, the confluence of pathos and farce and the fastidious observation that characterised those two titans Marceau and Tati, is unmissable. It would become clearer still in Chomet’s contribution to portmanteau film Paris, Je t’Aime (a section following a mime artist who appears unable to leave his work at the office) and this year’s The Illusionist, adapted from a Tati script and starring a tall and gauchely dignified man who looks suspiciously like that charming Monsieur Hulot.


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