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19yo girl loses husband in war. Bombing destroys his family's shop and the widow stays to rebuild it as the rest of the family flee and runs it for 18 years out of love for her dead husband... See full synopsis »
Ishun is a wealthy, but unsympathetic, master printer who has wrongly accused his wife and best employee of being lovers. To escape punishment, the accused run away together, but Ishun is certain to be ruined if word gets out.
The businessman Ogata Shingo works with his son Shuichi, who is his secretary, and they live together in the suburb with their wives Yasuko and Kikuko respectively. Shuichi has a love ... See full summary »
Otsuta is running the geisha house Tsuta in Tokyo. Her business is heavily in debt. Her daughter Katsuyo doesn't see any future in her mothers trade in the late days of Geisha. But Otsuta ... See full summary »
This is the story of Mama, a.k.a. Keiko, a middle-aged bar hostess who must choose to either get married or buy a bar of her own. Her family hounds her for money, her customers for her attention, and she is continually in debt. The life of a bar hostess is examined as well as the way in which the system traps and sometimes kills those in it. Written by
Between 11:30 and midnight, the Ginza's 16,000 hostesses head home in droves. The best go by cab... the second-rate take the train... and the worst go off with their customers.
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While "When a Woman Ascends the Stairs" may lack the excitement of many Japanese films, I really enjoyed it and felt it rather profound...as well as profoundly sad. It's the story of a woman, Mama, who has worked as a hostess in a Ginza bar for some time and she longs to leave the life. After all, her job is to be nice to men who come to the bar and get them to drink as well as get them to buy her drinks. It isn't much of a life and the long hours and drinking take their toll. However, despite hating the life, she also tries to uphold her standards and, unlike some hostesses, she doesn't sleep with her clients. But there are many pressures to do so--especially since the job really doesn't pay well. Plus, sleeping with one of these men might enable her to have enough money to buy a place of her own and have a bit of security. But, for every step forward she takes, there is yet another setback. Can she somehow forge a better life for herself before it is too late? While a film about quiet desperation is probably NOT everyone's cup of tea, the film was written, acted and directed exceptionally well. It de-glamorizes these women and helps create a sense of empathy for them--particularly Mama, who the audience can't help but like. Well done.
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