A group of anarchist leftist called "Nada" and led by the terrorist Buenaventura Diaz abducts the American ambassador Richard Poindexter in a brothel in Paris and brings him to a farm in ... See full summary »
An aging actress named Irina Arkidana pays summer visits to her brother Pjotr Nikolayevich Sorin and her son Konstantin on a country estate. On one occasion, she brings Trigorin, a ... See full summary »
When a straight-laced British accountant marries a free-spirited American, he starts trying to change her. His wife doesn't keep regular hours, so he suspects an affair and hires a ... See full summary »
The young but travelled Ana arrives in a manor in the countryside of Spain to work as nanny of three girls and finds a dysfunctional family: the matriarch is a sick old woman obsessed by ... See full summary »
Fernando Fernán Gómez,
José María Prada
Claudio, a construction worker, works on a site in the suburbs of Rome. He is madly in love with his wife who is pregnant with their third child. However, when he finds the remains of an ... See full summary »
Beatrice celebrates with her family the release of her book: she tells about the accident of her husband Frederic. He became blind and without filter - always so funny and seductive, he is ... See full summary »
Aroused citizens assassinate an unpopular Caribbean despot, then two men vie for his gorgeous widow Ines. Ojeda is a steamy, isolated island, the penal colony for an oppressive dictatorship... See full summary »
Yet another excellent film by Japanese director Shôhei Imamura! I'm amazed by how much great work he made!
'Intentions of Murder' revolves around Sadako, a plump woman with a peasant background who is abused by her loveless husband and in-laws and is raped by a degenerate thief. Her life is so full of bitterness and suffering, that she constantly contemplates committing suicide. Unbearably heavy as that may sound, the film is very artfully carried by Imamura's skill, inventiveness and great wisdom. The director never makes fun of Sadako's tragedy – on the contrary, he shows the deepest sympathy for her (much like he does for the female lead in his previous film, 'The Insect Woman') – but he handles the film's material with a relatively light touch by making use of a playful soundtrack and by highlighting the absurdity of its situations in a way that sometimes verges on black comedy. This is the story of an underdog who, while devoid of any wit, much wealth or classic good looks, is possessed with the strongest mettle and tenacity.
A recurring theme in his work (and particularly in my favorite film of his, 'Profound Desire of the Gods') is the clash between the structured mores of society and our unruly human desires and emotions. Inconvenient as it may be, our animal nature doesn't always accept the order that we try to impose on it rationally. This contradiction between different impulses can cause confusion, embarrassment, distress, violence... And yet, to some extent we're left with no choice but to somehow come to terms with that wild, anarchic aspect of our humanity.
I think it's fair to say that beyond our survival and animal instincts, the director points to love (both self-love and love for those around us) as the best compass in life. In this case, Sadako's love for her son serves her as a guiding light, even when it all seems hopeless. Imamura, despite populating many of his films with despicable, selfish characters, in the end seems to show some faith in human kind. It's a welcome spark of optimism in what would otherwise be a very darkly cynical perspective.
In an interview provided as an extra-feature by the Criterion Collection, Imamura explains that he needed to loosen up after having finished his 1960 film, 'My Second Brother', which won international acclaim but was too strait-laced for his taste. His style began to change after that, and I believe it's with 'Intentions of Murders' that the director began to play with surrealism, something that would become more prominent in later films like 'The Pornographers' and 'Warm Water Under The Red Bridge'.
It's true that a few of the metaphors in this film are a little too obvious (particularly the hamster in the cage). But there's so much more going on here, including beautiful black and white photography, a powerful story in general and really solid acting. This is a film that I highly recommend watching.
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