Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Okuni to Gohei (1952)
A lesser but interesting film by great Naruse
"Okuni to Gohei" was one of the few period dramas that Naruse made and I think it's based on a kabuki play. Okuni is a widow of a rich samurai family. Her husband was murdered by her former lover Tomonojo (played by Naruse regular So Yamamura). So she, together with a family's servant, Gohei, start a desperate search for Tomonojo to get revenge.
As expected from Naruse, this is not a typical jidaigeki. Instead of action, Naruse explores the personalities of the three heroes and the relationship between Okuni and Gohei, as they struggle to choose between their feelings and the duty of revenge (a common Japanese theme). Naruse's direction is great as always and the jidaigeki setting and scenery reminded me of Mizoguchi's films of the same period, however the story and the character's reactions seemed pretty predictable. Overall, I wouldn't consider "Okuni to Gohei" on par with director's masterpieces of the 50s and their amazing character studies, but it is worth watching if you are a Naruse fan like me.
Suzaki Paradaisu: Akashingô (1956)
A rare classic from a director who deserves attention
This is only the first film of Yuzo Kawashima that I watch and I'm definitely looking for more of his work! Kawashima remains virtually unknown in the west, which is a shame, since, from what I've read, he was a pioneer of Japanese new-wave, a big influence for Shohei Imamura and was highly regarded in Japan. The film is about a young, homeless couple in search for job, that ends up in a small bar just outside the Suzaki red-light district in Tokyo. I found the film really absorbing, I actually felt that I was living too in a small house at the edge of Suzaki river, watching the trucks, the noodle delivery men, the prostitutes and their clients crossing the bridge, in and out of the district. There are also some nice scenes of the busy and full of life streets of the 50s Tokyo. Overall, this is a fascinating film, on par with the other Japanese classics from the 1950s, that deserves to be distributed in the west along with more Kawashima movies, so that we get a chance to discover this neglected director.
Hideko no shashô-san (1941)
Takamine shines in this 40s Naruse gem
This charming film from Japan's most underrated director, Mikio Naruse, stars the very young and always beautiful Hideko Takamine and it's one of the director's best from that decade. The story is about a young bus conductress(Takamine) and the bus driver, who propose to their boss to provide tour guide commentary, in order to solve the bus company' s financial problems. I really liked this film, although its a bit too short (less than 1 hour) and not quite as profound as Naruse's late masterpieces. Also, it reminded me Hiroshi Shimizu's Arigato-San (1936), another great film with a similar mood. Unfortunately, almost all Naruse's films of the 40's are unknown in the West, thus the video quality of this movie is not so good...