Thursday, February 08, 2007

Watched February 5-11, 2007

Shunkinsho: Okoto to Sasuke / Okoto and Sasuke (Yasujiro Shimazu. 1935)

First adaptation of Tanizaki's story about a blind musician and her exceedingly devoted male attendant (released when the book was still hot off the press). Kinuyo Tanaka is marvelous as the strong-willed yet sometimes childish youngest daughter of a merchant family, who has been trained as a musician from childhood, due to her blindness.
Kôkichi Takada (as her guide and watchdog, more or less) is likewise very fine. Her life is complicated by an insistent (and fairly villainous) wealthy "suitor" (played by Ozu regular Tatsuo Saito). When she scars his face while resisting an attempted rape, he arranges for tit-for-tat revenge. After her face is disfigured, Okoto hides from everyone, which her aide finds unendurable -- and he takes drastic action to allow him to once again rejoin her company. Interestingly, Kitano's Dolls (his own meditation on "mad love") uses an updated variant of this story as one of its subplots.

Some additional pictures:

El Gran Calavera / The Great Madcap (Luis Bunuel, 1949)

Entertaining film -- with Fernando Soler (a film writer and director in his own right) as paterfamilas of a somewhat dysfunctional wealthy family. Quite conventional for the most part -- but with a church wedding scene that foreshadows later Mexican works.

Out 1 (Jacques Rivette, 1971), parts 6, 7 and 8

All 14 hours finally seen. Great fun in terms of visuals and performances. Don't have much of a clue what was going on -- and don't much care (as this seemed not worth worrying about).

L'hypothèse du tableau volé / The Hypothesis of the Stolen Painting (Raoul Ruiz, 1979)

Only an hour long -- but very dry. It put my wife and I both to sleep. Perhaps, if it wehad not tried to watch this at the end of a long day, we would have ad more stamina. Even so, I suspect this will not count as one of my favorite Ruiz films.

Qing cheng zhi lian / Love in a Fallen City (Ann Hui, 1984)

Superb film set in Shanghai -- and then in Hong Kong, as the Japanese attack and invade. Cora Miao and CHOW Yun-fat are excellent here as a divorced young widow, whose relation with her siblings is deteriorating and a wealthy businessman/playboy who might offer her a chance at a re-start in life. Available on subbed VCD. Some pictures:

Shi wan huo ji / Lifeline (Johnnie To, 1997)

A Hong Kong fire company with a reputation as "jinxes" gets a new rather imperious boss (Alex Fong). Second in command (the always wonderful LAU Ching-wan) tries to keep the troops in line despite their unhappiness. They initially face a number of minor challenges -- and then spend the last half of the film at a gigantic factory fire. Lots of tension, great visuals. Not sure I entirely believed the conclusion, but not a major problem.


Steven said...

Glad I found your blog!

I'm enjoying these Shimazu films immensely, as well (though I've been having a problem falling asleep during films lately, hopefully this will pass). For what it's worth, I should be getting a copy of the 1976 version of Story of Shuinkun starring Yamaguichi Momoe.


Michael Kerpan said...

Hurrah! You made the inaugural comment on this site!

My wife and I had no problem at all staying awake for "Milky Way". ;~}