Archive for November 10th, 2010

Copyright © 2010 by James Clark

The title of Federico Fellini’s renowned film from 1963 would seem to have in view the full output of his career to that point. Supposedly entailing a crisis of inspiration on his part, the rather disappointing stock number would capture his sense of wading through a series of more or less memorable entertainments. In fact only one of his films, the one directly preceding, namely, La Dolce Vita (1960), is alive on the ground here—in fact, so vitally insistent that it would be virtually impossible to appreciate what the later film is about without having seen the earlier one.

An instance of reprising a moment of La Dolce Vita (one of a plethora of such replays) is the scene at the courtyard bar/restaurant of the posh hotel where the protagonist (“Guido”) is installed in the course of taking a cure at an opulent spa nearby and launching his next film at a site in a desolate expanse, also nearby. A magic act makes up the evening’s theatre, whereby a tall, cadaverous MC stalks amidst the audience, pausing at various tables and thus cueing a blindfolded, elderly woman/clairvoyant to disclose what the guest is thinking. (more…)


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(Japan 1979 19 min)

Director/Writer Kihachiro Kawamoto; Narrator Tetsunojo Kanze

by Stephen Russell-Gebbett

Dutiful wives, obedient Geisha, resolute and doting mothers, the cinema of inter-bellum and post-war Japan, from Mizoguchi to Naruse to Ozu, turned its tender gaze on those women whose faces and mournful existence were hardening into masks of porcelain. The films of the Samurai too, or films centred on men, regardless of their wild untamed theatrics, transformed warriors and husbands into statues, into symbols of stern and rigid power.

Puppetry, where ivory faces do not move and where poses speak volumes, conveys these guises and archetypes undistilled. Yet, in Kihachrio Kawamoto’s House of Flame, as in the great Japanese Cinema now gone, the sentiments, the sensations and the passions burn with an insatiable fire. The flame is love and it is desire unbridled. The house is the human heart, a temple of worship and painful sacrifice.


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