Archive for November 26th, 2010

by Allan Fish

(Japan 1935 77m) not on DVD

Aka. Tsuma yo bara no yo ni

Neglected I remain these many years

d/w  Mikio Naruse  novel  “Two Wives” by Minoru Nakano  ph  Hiroshi Suzuki  ed  Mikio Naruse  m  Noboru Ito  art  Kazuo Kuho

Sachiko Chiba (Kimiko Yamamoto), Sadao Maruyama (Shunsaku Yamamoto), Tomoko Ito (Etsuko Yamamoto), Yunko Hanabusa (Oyuki), Setsuko Horikoshi (Shizue), Heihachiro Okawa (Seiji), Kamatari Fujiwara (uncle), Kaoru Ito (Kenichi),

Made when he was only 29, Naruse’s first masterpiece was made during the first golden era of Japanese cinema – the era when Ozu and Mizoguchi also first came to prominence and Yamanaka was still to be cherished. Like all his films, it has lain not so much forgotten as undiscovered in the west, and viewings today are few and far between.  Along with Ozu’s An Inn in Tokyo, it’s the first masterpiece of Japanese talking cinema, and one of the most emotional and empathetic tales Naruse ever told.

            Kimiko is a young woman who works in an office in the city.  She is about to be married to her beloved Seiji, which will mean she has to leave her mother.  She is a poet who spends her time writing poetry on her misfortune, which she traces to her husband leaving her fifteen years previously to live with another woman in the hills far away.  As her father is expected to do his duty towards his daughter at her forthcoming wedding, Kimiko endeavours to try and get her father and mother back together, with the blessing of her somewhat unfeeling uncle.  However, once she tracks her father down to his country home, she finds she quite likes his new family and sees how happy he is.  When he comes back with her to do his pre-nuptial duty, she sees how unhappy her somewhat selfish mother would make him and tells him to return. (more…)

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(JAPAN 1991 118 min)

Director / Writer Isao Takahata

by Stephen Russell-Gebbett

Isao Takahata is less well known than his Studio Ghibli colleague Hayao Miyazaki. People may know his film about a pair of children orphaned by war, Grave of the Fireflies, but might not be able to put a name to it; let alone a face to the name. He is less well known but, some would say, no less talented.

Only Yesterday is about Taeko; that is Taeko at 27 and Taeko at 10. On her way to the countryside to help pick Safflowers, she recalls, through flashbacks, her younger self. She wonders if the woman she has become is someone the young Taeko would be proud of. The literal translation of the Japanese title Omohide Poro Poro is “memories come tumbling down”.

To distinguish between the past and the present, Takahata fades the edges of the image of the past, unfinished and indistinct in retrospect, and draws with softer lines the safer and more welcoming world of a child. The present is depicted in sharp lines, the past as if in watercolour (Takahata used a watercolour wash, digitally created, in My Neighbours the Yamadas).


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