Monday, May 28, 2007

Watched (and Read) May 21 - 27, 2007: Shimizu, Perrault, Higuchi, Bae Doo-na

Ohara Shosuke-san / Mr. Shosuke Ohara (Hiroshi Shimizu, 1949)

Our hero Saheita is nicknamed "Shosuke Ohara" (after a character in a folk song, known for his love of living the easy life). A fairly prosperous farmer -- but one who is not as industrious as he could be -- and a little too fond of behaving into acting as the local Lord Bountiful. He funds a sewing school for the local girls and religious instruction classes for local boys -- and provides baseball uniforms for the the local men's team (and then the boy's team). When he starts running into financial trouble, he simply wishes it away. Reality soon catches up, alas...

Denjiro Okochi of our good-natured but unrealistic hero calls to mind (a bit) his earlier portrayal of the one-eyed, one-armed (lazy) master swordsman of Yamanaka's Tange Sazen and the Pot Worth a Million Ryo. Yet another genial, interesting film from Shimizu.

http://i9.photobucket.com/albums/a59/mkerpan/ohara/ohara01.png
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Le Règne du jour / The Times That Are (Pierre Perrault, 1967) (seen a while back, but seemingly never reported in this thread)

The Tremblay family (patriarch Alex, his wife Marie, his son Leopold and Leopold's wife Marie-Paule), first introduced in "Pour la suite du monde" (1963), goes to France to seek out their roots in Normandy (among other things). A wonderful documentary, with lovely cinematography and a lovely score. Rather than talk about this more, some pictures:

Alex:
http://i9.photobucket.com/albums/a59/mkerpan/regne_du_jour/regne18.png
Marie:
http://i9.photobucket.com/albums/a59/mkerpan/regne_du_jour/regne07.png
And the rest:
http://i9.photobucket.com/albums/a59/mkerpan/regne_du_jour/regne01.png
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Also seen -- a bit more than half of Bae Doo-na's latest television (16 episode) series -- Someday. Here, Bae plays a Hana Yamaguchi, a young Korean-Japanese manga artist, whose early celebrity has worn off and whose manga has just been discontinued by the publisher. Hana, whose parent ran off when she was quite young, lives with the grandmother who has raised her. Her moping is interrupted by a mystery of sorts -- an old neighbor (who turns out to have been born in Korea) has died without any traceable family -- and his ashes have been "stolen" by another neighbor (a widow, from a fairly prominent family), who has taken them off to Korea. To help take Hana's mind off her "failure", her grandmother encourages her to go to Korea (for the first time) to investigate. There, she encounters a moody young (low-budget) private investigator -- and a handsome 30-something hospital director who happens to be a fanatic devotee of her manga. The director immediately begins falling in love with Hana, much disconcerting his old childhood friend (now a multimedia company director -- who had never realized she was actually in love with him -- until this latest threat). Hana, however, is a lot more intrigued by her mysterious detective...

I
n the Shade of Spring Leaves: The Life and Writings of Higuchi Ichiyo, a Woman of Letters in Meiji Japan, written/translated by Robert Lyons Danly. A combination biography (includint extensive extracts from Ichiyo's diaries) and anthology. Ichiyo (born Natsuko) Higuchi was Japan's first modern woman writer. Sadly, she really only mastered fiction in 1894 (when she was 22) and died (of tuberculosis) two years later. Her stories provided the basis of Imai's Nigorie (Muddy Water / Troubled Waters), which used three of them and Gosho's Takekurabe (Growing Up / Child's Play), based on her last major story. It is a tragedy that Ichiyo Higuchi died so young -- but a wonder that she accomplished so much in her brief life that she is still honored today in Japan (fairly recently her picture was placed on 50,000 yen bills).

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