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Archive for November 12th, 2010

 

by Allan Fish

(Japan 1955 96m) DVD2

Aka. Yokihi; Princess Yang Kwei-Fei

In the plum tree garden

p  Masaichi Nagata, Run Run Shaw  d  Kenji Mizoguchi  w  Yoshikata Yoda, Matsutaro Kawaguchi, Masashige Narusawa, Tao Jin  ph  Kohei Sugiyama  ed  Kenji Mizoguchi  m  Fumio Hayasaka  art/cos  Hiroshi Mizutani 

Machiko Kyo (Yang Kwei-Fei), Masayuki Mori (Emperor Xuan Zong), So Yamamura (An Lushan), Eitaro Shindo (Kao Li-hsi), Eitaro Ozawa (Yang Kuo-Chung), Haruko Sugimura (Yen-Chun), Tatsuya Ishiguro (Li Lin-Fu), Isao Yamagata (Yang Hsien),

Only a few years ago a huge controversy blared up over Rob Marshall’s Memoirs of a Geisha, one that seemed to doom the film from the outset.  Chinese actors in Japanese roles, it was unthinkable.  The Japanese-American community were in outrage, though it highlighted several anomalies.  Firstly that the Chinese speaking cinema was in a healthier state in terms of its actresses than the Japanese – Li, Yeoh, Zhang, all present and correct, and many could name Cheung, Wong and others.  Ask the average cineaste in 2005 to name a prominent Japanese actress as we have a problem.  Of course, Marshall could have been brave and cast unknowns, as Ang Lee did with Wang Tei in Lust, Caution, but he needed box office, and the minx from Crouching Tiger, Hero and The House of Flying Daggers was the best box office the east could offer. 

            There was a more glaring hypocrisy, however; namely that the Japanese had done the same thing from time to time, most famously with Mizoguchi’s filming of Empress Yang Kwei-Fei, but then the Chinese community had no voice to register their complaint.  And then we could go back further to the Hollywoof insults of the Yellow Man in Broken Blossoms and the “O Lan, you are the earth” malarkey of The Good Earth.  Hollywood was no newcomer to stereotyping, as witness the awful Oirish sensibilities that so destroyed some of Ford’s films; the arty fraud of The Informer, the God-awful leprechaun and fisticuffs mentality of The Quiet Man or the way How Green Was My Valley turned a Welsh mining village (Donald Crisp a notable aside) into a sunny backwater of Ireland.  Wales, Ireland, what’s the difference?  China, Japan, it’s all the same, isn’t it?  (more…)

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(United Kingdom 1986 21min)

Directors Stephen Quay, Timothy Quay; Music Leszek Jankowski; Costume Design Lys Flowerday; Original Story Bruno Schulz


By Stephen Russell-Gebbett


“In the bottom draw of his fathomless desk, my father kept an old and beautiful map of our town…

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