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September 01, 2012

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David Ehrenstein

Glad you brought this up. While the rise of Ozu has been welcome its left a lot of important Japanese filmmakers stranded in the furthest reaches of the canon.

Terence Malick is obsessed with "Sansho the Bailiff" and even created a stage version of it back in the day.

colinr

I liked that Abel Ferrara put The Devils on his top ten list as well. I would have loved to know his more in depth thoughts on that film!

Joel Bocko

One thing that's kind of interesting about the Japanese revival of the past 10 years (and, yes, while Ozu might be the main beneficiary I think it's been a big boon to Mizoguchi as well) is that the Japanese New Wave, despite a few Criterion releases, has been largely overlooked in the hoopla. At least so it seems to me after finally discovering some of this stuff, particularly Oshima, last fall with a little help from my friends. And the stuff that did get released, like Oshima's mid-60s films which mostly underwhelmed me when I rented the Eclipses, probably isn't as strong as some of the stuff still unvailable on R1 (at least last I checked): The Ceremony and Death by Hanging particularly.

Oh, and...

"I am not inclined to contribute to any of the polemecizing per se"

Allow me then: http://thedancingimage.blogspot.com/2012/09/connecting-movies.html, it's a twofer, as it's centered around a link to Jason Bellamy's much circulate piece, where my comments originally appeared. I'd be kind of interested to know what some of the folks here think about the role cinephiles should/do play in promoting cinema, and "what is to be done" (as one of Dinesh's pals once said) about the subject.

David Ehrenstein

Here's the trailer for my favorite early Oshima "Yhree Resurrected Drunkards"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6G0AqFp1_eM

Its stars are "The Folk Crusaders" a pop music group. One of the many films Oshima made that year it centers as so many of his films of tat period did on Japanese anti-Korean prejudice. The stars play schoolboys who play hookey one day to go swimming. Their clothes are stolen and replaced by clothing worn by Koream schoolboys. As a result they're subject throughout the rest of the movieto all the indignities the Japanese put on Koreans.

JF

Criterion should do another Eclipse set for DEATH BY HANGING, DIARY OF A SHINJUKU THIEF, BOY, THE MAN WHO LEFT HIS WILL ON FILM, and THE CEREMONY. I really like what they put out from that period (VIOLENCE AT NOON is my joint) but they're a bit spottier than the aforementioned ones.

lipranzer

I went on a Mizoguchi kick recently, as it happens, watching the Criterion titles available as well as those still on VHS that were available at my library, and that meant revisiting UGETSU and watching SANSHO for the first time. UGETSU is a film very well put together, and the story is fascinating, and I can see why many people think it's one of the greatest movies ever made (as I recall, Andrew Sarris named it as his favorite movie when he was invited to participate in Philip Nobile's book on favorite movies nearly 40 years ago). Yet nothing prepared me for how devastating SANSHO was, especially when the sister kills herself, and the reunion at the end, so on balance, I do have to say I prefer that one. I look forward to catching up on more of his films. Still have to catch up on Ozu.

Joel, I must confess I could never get into Oshima; both IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES and MERRY CHRISTMAS, MR. LAWRENCE seemed to be too self-conscious, and not in a good way. For self-conscious New Wave Japanese films, I much prefer, though wildly different, Suzuki - BRANDED TO KILL is one of the craziest films I've ever seen, and highly entertaining.

JF

@lipranzer: Oshima's 60's-early 70's stuff is very different in tone and style from the movies he did from IN THE REALM ON THE SENSES on. Some of it reminds me stylistically of Suzuki (also: Godard, Resnais), though the content is way more cerebral and politically incendiary.

S├ębastien Coutu

REGEN is amazing. I was sure the filmmaker who put it on his ballot was Tsai Ming-Liang.

Once you've seen the film, you'll understand why it was easy to make that mistake...

bill

Lipranzer already mentioned the one thing I had to offer to this conversation, but anyway I very slightly prefer SANSHO over UGETSU because of the suicide sequence. That's some of the finest filmmaking I've ever seen.

Ian Johnston

For Japanese New Wave Yoshishige (aka Kiju) Yoshida's EROS + MASSACRE is as good as it gets. (Ditto COUP D'ETAT.) But there are no English-subtitled DVDs of any of his films as far as I know. (The French are the opposite - they've put out practically everything.)

And speaking of the Japanese canon, don't forget the great, great Naruse. Start with FLOATING CLOUDS - that made Kora-eda's top ten.

Joel Bocko

Good call on Yoshida, Ian. I'm not as big a fan of Eros as some (one film buff I know called it the greatest film of all time), but it, Farewell to the summer Light, and Heroic Purgatory are all visually mesmerizing. Apologies for pimping my wares twice on one thread, but I put up some great screen-caps from Farewell last year that I'd encourage anyone unfamiliar with the film to gaze upon, as encouragement to torrent or get the non-R1 disc for or petition Criterion or whatever:

http://thedancingimage.blogspot.com/2011/11/wandering-across-europe.html

Peter Lenihan

Eros + Massacre has been on youtube for a while with English subs. I believe it still is. Obviously not ideal, but it is available. All the movies Mizoguchi made around this time are amazing--I suspect the mysticism and period settings of Sansho and Ugestu make the misery a bit more palatable (if that's the right word), but A Geisha and Street of Shame are, in my mind, equally great films.

Peter Lenihan

& Yoshida's Wuthering Heights makes a great double bill with Andrea Arnold's.

NRH

Or a giant bill with the Wyler, Bunuel, and Rivette versions!

David Ehrenstein

Don't forget the Fuest!

Jaime N. Christley

"Start with FLOATING CLOUDS - that made Kora-eda's top ten."

And mine:

http://explore.bfi.org.uk/sightandsoundpolls/2012/voter/520

LLJ

I concur with JF in that there's a definite break in style between pre-IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES Oshima and post.

I think Criterion got it right with their first Oshima Eclipse set--those films are largely representative of Oshima's restless nature during the 60s. Violence at Noon is the standout in the set, but Sing a Song of Sex is probably the densest and most political of the bunch, and most representative of the themes that Oshima was most concerned with at the time.

One could argue that Death by Hanging, Sing a Song of Sex, and Three Resurrected Drunkards make up Oshima's "Korean Trilogy"...

I think Yoshida and Oshima's films are far more politically and culturally specific than some of their other Japanese New Wave brethren, which may account for their being somewhat overlooked today. Suzuki was more of a great genre stylist, and Imamura was more of a social anthropologist than a political commentator, which made him more accessible outside of Japan.

GuessWho

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Joel Bocko

I wonder what GuessWho's captcha was.

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