Archive for December 17th, 2013

until 2

by Allan Fish

(Japan 1950 110m) not on DVD

Aka. Mata au hi made

If only I had wings…

p  Shizuo Sakagami  d  Tadashi Imai  w  Toshio Yasumi, Yoko Mizuki  ph  Shunichiro Nakao  m  Masao Oki  art  Yasuhide Kato

Yoshiko Kuga (Keiko Ono), Eiji Okada (Saburo Tajima), Haruko Sugimura (Suga Ono), Osamu Takizawa (Eisaku), Akira Oizumi, Eizo Tanaka, Hiroshi Kondo,

It’s a scene that would be cherished and preserved in the cinema’s pantheon of moments were it known; a simple scene – a young man saying goodbye to his girl at her home.  They are trying to come to terms with the fact that the fates don’t seem to want to be together.  He leaves, and she goes back to the living room and moves to the window to watch him go.  Snow is falling steadily.  She waits for him to look back, which he does about 10 yards or so away.  He starts to come back and stops in front of the window.  He’s positioned lower down than her, but after longingly staring at each other, and the camera showing us each of their anguished faces in turn, he stands on tip toe to pucker up his lips to the glass.  She in turn motions her head down to meet his lips.

It’s one of cinema’s great kisses, all the more so because their lips don’t actually meet.  One can imagine Leopoldo Trieste’s priest in Cinema Paradiso shaking his head, muttering “no” and shaking his little bell, and then seeing it again on Alfredo’s kissing montage.  Sadly, Tadashi Imai is not viewed as one of the sacred Japanese directors in the west.  No, he’s not Mizoguchi, Ozu, Kurosawa or Naruse, but he’s one of that select band who deserve to be mentioned in the same breath.  He’s already represented here as I write by his later Bushido: Cruel Code of the Samurai, but the fifties was Imai’s richest period.  His Muddy Water was once rated the best Japanese film of 1953 by Kinema Junpo (ahead of Tokyo Story and Ugetsu Monogatari!).  And while their opinion may have cooled on that portmanteau film, Until We Meet Again still placed high in their Top 100 Japanese films a few years back, at no.30 the highest placed of the director’s films. (more…)

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