An entomologist searching for insects by the seaside is trapped by local villagers into living with a widow whose life task is digging up sand for them. He eventually develops strong feelings for her as his hope for escape dims.
Late in the 1500s, an aging tea master teaches the way of tea to a headstrong Shogun. Through force of will and courageous fighting, Hideyoshi becomes Japan's most powerful warlord, ... See full summary »
Hiroshi Teshigahara's camera takes us over, under, around, and into buildings and a park designed by Antonio Gaudí (1852 - 1926), Catalan architect, ceramist, and sculptor. Teshigahara ... See full summary »
Life of a pornographer who tries to stay under the radar of the mob. He has a mistress, a step-son, a step-daughter (whom he's attracted to) and a wife who believes her first husband was reincarnated as a restless carp.
A private detective is hired to find a missing man by his wife. Contradictory evidence and the lack of clues soon render the case as virtually unsolvable, as the detective grows more and more frustrated.
A day in the life of Ako, a 16 year old Japanese girl, and her friends and co-workers. An alarm clock wakes her in a dorm; she gets ready for work and travels to a large bakery. We see her ... See full summary »
A documentary fantasy. Penniless miners talk in passing about labor unions. A miner and his young son go to a village in Kyushu where the miner has been told he'll find work, but it's a ghost town, save for one woman. The miner leaves and is followed by a man in a white suit and white gloves. A murder takes place: faked footprints, bribery and intrigue, investigations, a frame-up, and a ghost who wants to know why meet in a story of realism and the surreal. A child mutely witnesses all. Does the truth count for anything in this world or in the next? Can everything be manipulated? Written by
Pitfall is the first film of what I like to call Teshigahara's Trilogy of Identity, succeeded by Woman of the Dunes and The Face of Another. The links these films share is that they're collaborations between Teshigahara, novelist Kobo Abe and composer Toru Takemitsu, they're shot in B&W, and they offer interesting takes on one's identity and how its fragility may be manipulated.
Pitfall's plot goes on at a leisure and really takes its time to build up, and while that quirk of its does manage to make the film feel like it's completely disconnected to reality and produce an unique supernatural atmosphere, it also goes nowhere, fails to build suspense and the execution overall falls flat and looks incomplete.
I like some of the ideas, like the mysterious killer in white, a mix of various genres and a distinct sense of voyeurism enhanced by camera angles (which was also heavily used in Yoshishige Yoshida's Woman of the Lake), but the first half of the film is quite dull and offers little to none interesting imagery despite Teshigahara's satirical visions being fresh on paper. Later when it gets going it still feels like something is missing A better resolution maybe?
Teshigahara called this, his first feature film, a "documentary fantasy" and one can easily see why. Elements of social realism concerning the miners are mixed with a ghost story (in midst of all the other genres). A bold move and one of Pitfall's most original qualities, along with the cold and geometrical filming style.
Interestingly enough, Criterion's edition of the three films has a huge fingerprint on the cover. I guess I'm not the only one who thinks that identity is the crucial theme in this pseudo-trilogy.
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