Michael Kerpan wrote:Unfortunately, very little of Shimizu's earliest work exists (and so much early work of Ozu and Naruse is also lost) -- so it is hard to piece everything together.
Do you know anything about his late works from the 40s and 50s? Most or all of them have not even gotten a single comment on imdb, so I suppose they are rather unknown (at least outside Japan).
Michael Kerpan wrote:BTW -- my favorite character in Arigato-san is Michiko Kuwano's moga. (too bad IMDB has split Kawano's credits with a mythical "Kayoko Kuwano").
The young woman who speaks with the driver about the 'sad girl' near the end? Yes, she might be my favourite character, too. It's nice to see how she appears to be a modern girl in a completely natural way, in the sense of not somewhat just taking-over western attitudes and clothing, as in the case of Mizo's "Sisters of the Gion", for instance, where the characters appear far more torn between two worlds (intentionally so, of course). Her character might be seen almost like a catalyst for the approach to life that the bus driver exudes.
Anyway, I continued yesterday with "Japanese Girls at the Harbour", and this also pretty much impressed me. While the story is more or less conventional, the film itself is not. Shimizu has an absolutely uncanny sense for blocking and using space between characters. The various scenes on the hill road where you see the town in the background are a good example; entirely beautiful and lyrical shots. I also admired the long tracking shot over the ocean-liner in the harbour: it's not unique, even for a film of that time, but the camera movement has just the right speed and angle to transform it into something that seems like you've rarely seen it before. Visual poetry at its best, and there are many more examples in the film. I was simultaneously reminded of Clair and Kirsanoff, perhaps even late Murnau occasionally. The film seems to be very much influenced by western films of the time, but Shimizu manages to coalesce such influences into something distinctly his own; quite unlike Ford copying Murnau, for instance.
I pretty much think that this might be my favourite dvd purchase this year, even though I have still two films to watch. Only two...