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Archive for November 16th, 2010

by Allan Fish

(Japan 1956 87m) DVD1/2

Aka. Akasen Chitai

Please, come in…

p  Masaichi Nagata  d  Kenji Mizoguchi  w  Masashige Narusawa  novel  Yoshiko Shibaki  ph  Kazuo Miyagawa  ed  Kanji Suguwara  m  Toshiro Mayazumi  art  Hiroshi Mizutani

Machiko Kyo (Mickey), Ayako Wakao (Yasumi), Aiko Mimasu (Yumeko), Michiyo Kogure (Hanae), Kumeko Urabe (Otane), Yasuko Kawakami (Shizuko), Hiroko Machida (Yori), Eitaro Shindo (Kurazo Taya), Toranosuke Ogawa (Mickey’s father),

Mizoguchi’s final film isn’t one that generally gets mentioned amongst his finest works.  There are several reasons why this might be the case.  The most obvious is that he has made better movies, and when one looks at the likes of Sansho, Ugetsu and the like it’s hard to disagree.  Does this is any way mean Street of Shame is less a masterwork than it is?  It stands tantalisingly at a crossroads that the master director was prevented from following by his untimely death from leukaemia later that year.   At the time of its release, critics wanted more along the lines of what had gone before, but Mizoguchi seems to have tired of the old-fashioned tales set in medieval times that made his name in the west.  They may have allowed for parallels to be made to the present world, but in Street of Shame he creates his first major post-war work to explore the plight of embittered and embattled women in the present day. 

            Shame is set in the Dreamland brothel in the infamous Yoshiwara district of Tokyo, and follows the fortunes of several women, from young to middle aged, who work there; one of them has undertaken the profession because she needs to make money to raise her son, another wants out by marriage to a rich benefactor, while another, Mickey, has grown hard and cynical since leaving her parents because of her anger at her hedonistic father’s refusal to treat her mother with respect. (more…)

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(France 1980 81min)

Director Paul Grimault; Writers Hans Christian Andersen, Jacques Prévert

by Stephen Russell-Gebbett

The King of Tachycardia is a vain and cruel man. He spends his time shooting defenseless birds (which distresses the father of one of these birds, who introduces our story, who vows to gain revenge) and overseeing from his highest of high ivory towers the countless bombastic portraits, statues and topiary made in his honour.

Admiring oneself can be tiring though and his attentions turn to someone who may be able to do that job for him. There is a girl who stays in his chambers day and night, “a charming shepherdess” he calls her. He has fallen for her, looking up at her where she hangs high, high enough to worship. She’s in a painting, you see, her life’s course dried upon its canvas. But, despite his obsessive and self-obsessive yearnings she gives him the brush-off. A chimney sweep trapped by a frame nearby takes her hand and together they step out into the world and flee.

(more…)

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