Archive for December 3rd, 2010


by Allan Fish

(Japan 1962 121m) not on DVD

Aka. Houhou-ki; Her Lonely Lane

I’m a red ball out in the fields

p  Sanezumi Fujimoto, Mikio Naruse, Tadahiro Teramoto  d  Mikio Naruse  w  Toshiro Ide, Sumie Tanaka  autobiography  Fumiko Hayashi  ph  Jun Yasumoto  ed  Hideshi Ohi  m  Yuji Koseki  art  Satoshi Chuko

Hideko Takamine (Fumiko Hayashi), Akira Takarada (Fukuya), Daisuke Kato (Nobuo Sadaoka), Kinuyo Tanaka (Kishi Hayashi), Keiju Kobayashi (Fujiyama), Mitsuko Kusabue (Kyoko Hinatsu), Noboru Nakaya (Haruhiko Ikatsu),

Chronologically it’s the last Naruse film to make this selection.  Other interesting films would follow – Yearning, Scattered Clouds – but this was the film which represented his last real attempt at greatness.  It’s appropriate then that it was based on the life and work of Fumiko Hayashi, the author who had provided him with so much source material, and so much inspiration in general, that it’s impossible to think of Naruse without thinking of her.  Her writings were as fundamental to his success as Yoshikata Yoda’s contributions to the works of Mizoguchi or Kogo Nada with Ozu.  That it also starred his muse, the great Hideko Takamine, in the fifteenth of their seventeen collaborations, made the film doubly significant.

            Fumiko is first seen as a child subjected to the humiliation of her accordion playing father.  She grows up with her mother, but bitter towards her father and men in general.  When her mother goes back to help her father, Fumiko stays behind in Tokyo and befriends the kindly Mr Sadoaka, a widow who loves her dearly but whom she can feel nothing but kindness.  Instead, she falls into a series of ill-matched romances with wastrel bohemians or, most unfortunately, a bitter tubercular wannabe writer envious of her talents.  Turning to writing as an escape from her mundane, poverty-stricken life, she eventually becomes a success, but twisted by hatred and cynicism.  (more…)

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(JAPAN 1992 94 min)

Director Hayao Miyazaki; Screenplay Hayao Miyazaki; Music Joe Hisaishi; Cinematography Atsushi Okui; Editing Hayao Miyazaki, Takeshi Seyama; Production Design Katsu Hisamura; Voice Acting Shuichiro Moriyama (Porco), Tokiko Kato (Gina), Akemi Okamura (Fio)

by Stephen Russell-Gebbett

Porco Rosso is the story of Marco, the World War I pilot who became a pig, or should I say pig-headed. It’s a story that is as old as time itself, older than the Miyazaki-scribed 15-page watercolour manga where the hero first took his crimson Savoia into the clouds.

It is an old myth in new clothes: good men who look like animals and animals who look like dashing men. A heated, deadly rivalry for the hand of a beautiful woman, Gina, who waits in her garden pining for ham. Then there is his friend Fio, a passionate, stubborn girl whose spirit of ambition (Fio in Latin means ‘I become’) inspires great feats and whose subtle charms tame the wild pirate beasts, no more than loveable bumbling rogues in her hands. There is much bravery in battle and reticence in love.

This is the best of battles: well-matched adversaries (hero Porco and American ne’er do well Curtis are worthy foes) and people worth fighting for. Derring hadn’t been done quite like this since Errol Flynn and Kirk Douglas. Porco Rosso is a fabulous yarn.


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