Archive for the ‘Machiko Kyo’ Category


03 Feb

Rashomon – Directed by Akira Kurosawa. Drama. Four participants in a violent criminal deed, each tell it from their particular point of view. 88 minutes Black and White 1950.

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You will never forget it. And you will wonder what you really saw once you leave the theatre. I remember when it first appeared. It was, with the early films of Vittorio De Sica and S. Ray, the opening stroke of the introduction of international film to American audiences. They all were startling, indifferent to Hollywood style, profound, gutsy, and beautiful, none more so than Kurosawa. The acting style was Japanese in that it was intense, raw, highly emotional, contained, melodramatic, stylized, and firmly and deeply lodged in voice production; one had never seen humans like this before in a picture and never had one seen anyone oriental as the focus of a serious film. Mifune was first seen by U.S. audiences in this picture, playing with bold, sudden, unaccountable strokes. How he got the part is extraordinary: a friend of Kurosawa told him to come to the stodgy institute’s auditions because someone was tearing the place apart; Kurosawa came and saw that one of the greatest actors in he world, although completely unknown, was before him. He inveigled the institute to accept Mifune. Watch him: he’s the fastest actor in human response ever to appear in film. He can turn on a yen.  There is no one like him for contained anger but Brando. The woodland scenes are completely free, the scenes on the sets completely imprisoned. Does it hold up? Masterpieces do. This time round all these years later, I watch the commentary, and I recommend it highly; the critic is a master of his craft; he knows the picture in its 450 scenes, by heart. See it with your friends. If ever a film was a community experience, it is this one.




Street Of Shame

23 Apr

Street Of Shame – Directed by Kenji Mizoguchi. Tragic Satire. The women of a bordello meet their fates and fortunes, one by one. 85 minutes Black and White 1956

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Machiko Kyo, star of Teahouse Of The August Moon, Ugetsu, Roshamon, brings her young sensual power to the part of the volatile tart who enters the Tokyo bordello where this multi-character tale takes place. She is not alone in the attention she receives from the director. Each strand of each story weaves through the next, and Kenji Mizoguchi, whose last film this is, spares his camera now for this one now for the next, but always in community with all the other characters around, all women. The effect is Tolstoian, and has the power of Tolstoi — on two grounds — Mizoguchi’s sensibility in defining characters is ruthlessly economic and his sense of inherent, not imposed, moral inevitability is paramount. These characters are so unconscious they are funny, which is also Tolstoian, and, in their folly lovable, Tolstoian again. So the halo and aura of the picture exists as a greatness, brought on by the director’s handling of the individuals in collective scenes. Martin Scorsese must have studied this director for his strength in the handling of groups before a camera, and for free movement in cramped spaces. As in Tolstoi, in his The Forged Coupon, say, what is born is that rarest of forms, Tragic Satire. Does what I say make this film sound too serious to see? Not so. You may shake your head at what you behold here, but that is because it is so real that it is funny. Treat yourself. Watch it.


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