Mikio Naruse

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zedz
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Naruse Mikio

#1 Post by zedz » Sun Jun 12, 2005 7:26 pm

Naruse Mikio (1905-1969)

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Filmography

Mr and Mrs Swordplay / Chambera Fufu (1930)

Pure Love/ Junjo (1930)

Hard Times / Fukeiki Jidai (1930)

Love is Strength / Ai wa Chikara Da (1930)

A Record of Shameless Newlyweds / Oshikiri Shinkonki (1930)

Now Don't Get Excited / Ne Kofun Shicha Iya Yo (1931)

Dreams From the Second Floor / Nikai no Yumei (1931)

Flunky, Work Hard / Koshiben Gambare (1931)

Fickleness Gets on the Train / Uwaki wa Kisha ni Notte (1931)

The Strength of a Moustache / Hige no Chikara (1931)

Under the Neighbours' Roof / Tonari no Yane no Shita (1931)

Ladies, Be Careful of Your Sleeves / Onna wa Tamoto o Goyojin (1932)

Crying to the Blue Sky / Aozora ni Naku (1932)

Be Great! / Eraku Nare (1932)

Motheaten Spring / Mushibameru Haru (1932)

Chocolate Girl / Chokoreite Garu (1932)

Not Blood Relations / Nasanu Naka (1932)

Apart From You / Kimi to Wakarete (1933)

Nightly Dreams / Yogoto no Yume (1933)

A Man With a Married Woman's Hairdo / Boku no Marumage (1933)

Two Eyes / Sobo (1933)

Street Without End / Kagirinaki Hodo (1934)

Three Sisters With Maiden Hearts / Otome-gokoro Sannin Shimai (1935)

The Actress and the Poet / Joyu to Shijin (1935)

Wife, Be Like a Rose / suma yo Bara no Yo ni (1935)

Five Men in the Circus / Sakasu Gonin-gumi (1935)

The Girl in the Rumour / Uwasa no Musume (1935)

Kumoemon Tochuken (1936)

The Road I Travel With You / Kimi to Iku Michi (1936)

Morning's Tree-Lined Street / Asa no Namikimichi (1936)

A Woman's Sorrows / Nyonin Aishu (1937)

Avalanche (Nadare (1937)

Learn From Experience / Kafuku (1937) two-part film

Tsuruhachi and Tsurujiro / Tsuruhachi Tsurujiro (1938)

The Whole Family Works / Hataraku Ikka (1939)

Sincerity / Magokoro (1939)

Travelling Actors / Tabi Yakusha (1940)

A Face From the Past / Natsukashi no Kao (1941)

Shanghai Moon / Shanhai no Tsuki (1941)

Miss Hideko the Bus Conductress / Hideko no Shasho-san (1941)

Mother Never Dies / Haha wa Shinazu (1942)

The Song Lantern / Uta Andon (1943)

This Happy Life / Tanoshiki Kana Jinsei (1944)

The Way of Drama / Shibaido (1944)

Until Victory Day / Shori no Hi Made (1945)

A Tale of Archery at the Sanjusangendo / Sanjusangendo Toshiya Monogatari (1945)

The Descendants of Taro Urashima / Urashima Taro no Koei (1946)

Both You and I / Ore mo Omae mo (1946)

Four Love Stories / Yottsu no Koi no Monogatari (1947) omnibus film

Spring Awakens / Haru no Mezam (1947)

Delinquent Girl / Furyo Shojo (1949)

Conduct Report on Professor Ishinaka / Ishinaka Sensei Gyojoki (1950)

The Angry Street / Ikari no Machis (1950)

White Beast / Shiroi Yaju (1950)

The Battle of Roses / Bara Gassen (1950)

Ginza Cosmetics / Ginza Gesho (1950)

Dancing Girl / Maihime (1950)

Repast / Meshi (1951) MoC / Wild Side / Toho

Okuni and Gohei / Okuni to Gohei (1952)

Mother / Okasan (1952)

Lightning / Inazuma (1952)

Husband and Wife / Fufu (1953)

Wife / Tsuma (1953)

Older Brother, Younger Sister / Ani Imoto (1953)

Sound of the Mountain / Yama no Oto (1954) MoC / Toho

Late Chrysanthemums / Bangiku (1954)

Floating Clouds / Ukigumo (1955) Wild Side / Toho

The Kiss / Kuchizuke (1955) omnibus film

Sudden Rain / Shu-u (1956)

A Wife's Heart / Tsuma no Kokoro (1956)

Flowing / Nagareru (1956) MoC / Toho

Untamed / Arakure (1957)

Little Peach / Anzukko (1958)

Summer Clouds / Iwashigumo (1958) Wild Side

Whistling in Kotan / Kotan no Kuchibue (1959)

When a Woman Ascends the Stairs / Onna ga Kaidan o Agaru Toki (1960) Criterion / Toho

Daughters, Wives and a Mother / Musume Tsuma Haha (1960) Toho

Evening Stream / Yoru no Nagare (1960)

The Approach of Autumn / Aki Tachinu (1960)

The Other Woman / Tsuma toshite Onna toshite (1961)

Woman's Status / Onna no Za (1962)

Her Lonely Lane / Horoki (1962)

A Woman's Story / Onna no Rekishi (1963)

Yearning / Midareru (1964) Toho

Stranger Within a Woman / Onna no Naka ni Iru Tanin (1966) Toho

Hit and Run / Hikinige (1966)

Scattered Clouds / Midaregumo (1967) Toho


Forum Discussions

BFI

Japanese Films Not on DVD

Mikio Naruse: Volume One (MoC)

Mikio Naruse on DVD

When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (Criterion)

Wild Side


Web Resources

Apart from You - Michael Kerpan (Senses of Cinema)

Better Late Than Never: The Films of Mikio Naruse - Keith Uhlich (Slant Magazine)

Four Studies by Mikio Naruse - Michael Campi (Senses of Cinema)

The Materialist Ethic of Mikio Naruse - Freda Freiberg (Senses of Cinema)

Mikio Naruse - Alexander Jacoby (Senses of Cinema)

Mikio Naruse: Four Films - Acquarello (Strictly Film School)

Mikio Naruse - A Modern Classic - Eija Niskanen (Midnight Eye)

Sound of the Mountain: The Beauty of Pessimism - Dag Sødtholt (Senses of Cinema)

Unsentimental Journey: A Glimpse into the Cinema of Mikio Naruse - Acquarello (Senses of Cinema)


Books

The Cinema of Naruse Mikio: Women and Japanese Modernity - Catherine Russell (Duke University Press, 2008)

Mikio Naruse - Jean Narboni (Cahiers du cinéma / L'Etoile, 2006)

Japanese Film Directors - Audie Bock (Kodansha, 1985)

To the Distant Observer: Form and Meaning in Japanese Cinema - Noël Burch (University of California Press, 1979)
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Michael Kerpan
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Mikio Naruse

#2 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sun Jun 12, 2005 7:26 pm

"Inazuma " (Lightning) and "Ani imoto" (Older Brother, Younger Sister) were due out in May.

July sees the release of Materworks Vol. 1 -- which will include: "Meshi" (Repast), "Ukigomo" (Floating Clouds), "Musume tsuma haha" (Daughters, Wives and Mother), Midareru (Yearning) and "Onna no naka ni iru tanin" (The Stranger within a Woman").

No subs on any of these, I (very very strongly) suspect.

Japanese TV has recently shown around 50 of Naruse's Toho films. I was fortunate enough to borrow videos of some of these broadcasts.

Kafuku I and II / Learn from Experience, Parts I and II / literally Ups and Downs (Mikio NARUSE, 1937)

This 2-part film romance (clocking in at just under three hours) was based on a story by noted author Kikuchi Kan (who also founded Japan's one of Japan's most prestigious literary prizes, named after fellow author Akutagawa). It is a surpising blend of real and unreal. Everyone in the film seems to come from marvelously rich families -- and lives in very large houses and apartments. And yet the human interactions are generally realistically (and credibly) depicted.

The central character here is Toyomi (played by Takako IRIE, star of Mizoguchi's "Water Magician), a rich young woman in love with Shintaro (Minoru TAKADA), a rich young man. Unfortunately, Shintaro's father is in the process of arranging a marriage for him with Yurie (Chieko TAKEHISA), the scion of an even wealthier family. In order to avoid this, the two young lovers flee to Tokyo to live together. When Shintaro comes back to proclaim his intent to marry Toyomi, his father browbeats him into attending the long-arranged marriage meeting with Yurie. While Shintaro is back home, Toyomi goes on a vacation trip with her closest chum, Michiko (Yumeko AIZOME). At a class reunion, Toyomi is to distressed (at not having heard from Shintaro for so long), she doesn't go out on the town with her classmates. Michiko, however, runs into Shintaro and Yurie (also out on the town), and pulling him aside, demands an explanation. When Toyomi ultimately learns of her betrayal, she flees back home -- but getting a less than warm reception from her father, returns to Tokyo, where she takes a job as a junior shopgirl at ritzy dress shop. And this, covers (briefly) just the first half of the story.

In the second half, we discover that Toyomi is pregnant -- and while Shintaro and Yurie are on their extended honeymoon, she bears his child, a girl named Kiyoko. She is supported in adversity by Michiko -- and gets considerable moral support from not only her own mother but also from Shintaro's mother and siblings. Even more surprisingly, Yurie strikes up a friendship of sorts with her. When Yurie learns that the child is Shintaro's, she convinces Toyomi that it would be best to let Shintaro (and her) raise Kiyoko, so Toyomi can get on with making a proper life for herself. Tearfully, Toyomi agrees. Sometime later, Michiko goes to visit Toyomi -- and sees her at work, as a kindergarten teacher.

This film portrays an amazingly Americanized Japan. Reflections of American culture abound -- advertising signs, cars, clothes, music. Of the younger generation, Toyomi alone remains steadfastly traditionalist, wearing only kimonos -- until her final scene (where she too is dressed in the latest of Western attire). Equally surprising, while the film is circumspect in its depiction of the forbidden premarital relationship, there is no hint of moral disapproval on the part of the film maker. Visually, this is presented in a largely straightforward manner -- but with an usual freedom of camera movement at times (almost as if showing off new, more mobile cameras). This might not be a cinematic masterpiece for the ages -- but was an interesting and entertaining piece of popular entertainment.

Tabi yakusha / Traveling Actors (Mikio NARUSE, 1940)

This film like Ozu's "story of Floating Weeds" depicts a troupe of wandering kabuki players traveling through rural Japan. It seems to have been inspired by a tiny element of Ozu's film -- the funny "kabuki horse", animated by two performers -- the master for the front half (played by Kamatari FUJIWARA, of later Kurosawa fame) and the apprentice for the rear (Kan YANAGIYA). At first all goes well, and they makes friends with some accommodating local lady folk (Tamae KIYOKAWA and Sugiko ISE). Unfortunately, however, their local patron (a somewhat over-important barber, played by Ko MIHASHI) gets drunk and accidentally crushes the horse's head. After the two object to the pathetically repaired head he proffers, the barber decides that their fake horse was no good anyway (despite the audience approval they always received) -- and replaces them with a real horse. The displaced pair take their revenge, after moping awhile, by going on a rampage through the town (initially in their guise of a wild horse) and let the real horse loose. As the film ends, both the real horse and the two actors (now carrying their bits of horse costume) flee the town.

Overall, a charming film. Lighter in tone than Ozu's film, it is more reminiscent of the contemporary work of Hiroshi SHIMIZU (albeit with a more conventional sense of pacing and structure). Some lovely rural cimematography by Seiichi KIZUKA. Also entertaining performances by the two halves of the horse. Especially noteworthy is a scene where Fujiwara demonstrates his mastery of horse noises for the ladyfolk -- and Yanagiya unwittingly demonstrates why he is still only an apprentice horse's back end.

Natsukashi no kao / A Face from the Past / literally A Fondly Remembered Face (Mikio NARUSE, 1941)

A sweet and touching short war-time film. The focus here is on a partial family -- a mother, her young son, and a daugher-in-law (with newish baby -- usually slung on her back). The boy and his friends are fond of model airplanes. One day, the boy's plane gets stuck at the top of a tree, and he hurts his leg trying (in vain) to get it down. The village postman tells the mother that, while watching the newsreel at the nearest cinema (a considerable distance away), he thought she saw a glimpse of the oldest son (who is serving in the army). The mother travels to town -- and, since she wipes away some tears as she watches the newsreel, one surmises the postman was correct. She tells her daughter-in-law -- and the next day the young woman sets off to town and the movie theater. On the way there, she finds a local shop selling model airplanes of just the sort her young brother-in-law had lost, and kind-heartedly buys one for him. When she arrives at the theater, she learns that she doesn't have enough money to pay for admission -- and sadly stands around as she misses the show. The young woman returns home and gives the delighted boy his airplane, pretending she did see the newsreel too. After a neighbor says that she didn't see the daughter-in-law in the movie theater, the boy is upset and tosses aside his gift. All turns out well, however, when the schoolmaster comes to tell the family that he has arranged to have the newsreel screened for the whole village the next night at the schoolhouse.

Ostensibly made for propaganda purposes, this film was apparently not shown much because it was so short (only 30-some minutes). Perhaps it was also not much shown because it was, in fact, so little propagandistic. Like "Traveling Actors", this is only a small slice of rural life in war-time Japan. This does not even boast any star performers. Yet, within its bounds, a very fine little film.

Ore mo omae mo / Both You and I / more colloquially correct You and Me, Pal (Mikio NARUSE, 1946)

A post-war "salaryman film", this focuses on two older white-collar workers (played by Entatsu YOKOYAMA and Achako HANABUSHI) in a business office headed by a rather peremptory boss (played by Ichiro SUGAI -- later the father of Noriko in Ozu's "Early Summer"). Because these two are older (and have families to support), the boss thinks he can take advantage of them. accordingly, when he needs yardwork done, he sends them home to serve at the dictates of his wife. Because the two have shown at an office party that they can do an amusing kabuki imitation (as hero and “heroineâ€

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Steven H
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#3 Post by Steven H » Sun Jun 12, 2005 8:04 pm

Michael Kerpan wrote:"Inazuma " (Lightning) and "Ani imoto" (Older Brother, Younger Sister) were due out in May.

No subs on any of these, I (very very strongly) suspect.
English subs would be great, but I think we have a better chance of sprouting wings. I'm definitely going to pick up Lightning, Yearning, Daughters Wives Mother, and Floating Clouds (all amazing films!). The other three I haven't seen with subtitles (though I'm tempted to buy Meshi since it's so well spoken of). It looks like Lightning and Older Brother Younger Sister are coming out from a different company? I can't tell, but I suppose it's unlikely.

I would love to see all of those, but Travelling Actors and Me and You, Pal sound especially fantastic. Maybe I haven't tried hard enough, but it seems english subtitled Naruse films from the 40s are nigh impossible to come across.

I look forward to expanding my Naruse horizons with the upcoming box set (and anything else I might come across.)

From what I've seen, I think I prefer the polished aspect of his scope films (seen Wanderer's Notebook, Daughter Wife and Mother, When A Woman Ascends the Stairs, Yearning from this period), with Floating Clouds and Sound of the Mountain as my favorite earlier films. I think his sensibilities in framing faces, and scenes in general, is more suited to the scope AR. Comparing Ozu and Naruse, Ozu seems to frame things more vertically, and finds his space better in 1:33. Don't get me wrong, there are some gorgeous moments in Naruse's earlier films, but they don't compare to the visual beauty of those four I mentioned.

...I'm almost 100% sure you'll disagree with me on that, Michael!

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#4 Post by Michael Kerpan » Mon Jun 13, 2005 11:08 am

Steven H wrote:English subs would be great, but I think we have a better chance of sprouting wings. I'm definitely going to pick up Lightning, Yearning, Daughters Wives Mother, and Floating Clouds (all amazing films!). The other three I haven't seen with subtitles (though I'm tempted to buy Meshi since it's so well spoken of). It looks like Lightning and Older Brother Younger Sister are coming out from a different company? I can't tell, but I suppose it's unlikely.
You don't seem to get a choice on the Masterworks collection -- its a 5 DVD box set -- from Toho, I would presume.

For some reason, "Lightning" and "Older Brother, Younger Sister" were released by Daiei initially -- maybe Naruse was "on loan" to them for these projects? Daiei's film business was bought by Kadokawa recently.

I think Ozu is almost always more visually "elegant" than Naruse in standard format. Ditto for Shimizu. On the other hand, sometimes Naruse's uncluttered directness does a better job at conveying emotion.

Naruse did seem to make exceptionally good use of cinemascope format (as do many of his colleagues). My sense is that they used this format far more creatively than Western filmmakers.

Obviously none of the Japanese TV broadcasts were subtitled -- so I (and my Japanese student son) had to listen carefully to what was going one (and occasionally compare notes).

Since some of these films have no "real" Western names (because they have never been exhibited in the West -- and haven't been shown anywhere -- until now -- for 50 years or so), I'm going to give them whatever names I think most suitable. For instance -- "ore" and "omae" are pretty much the most casual and familiar forms of "I/me" and "you" available. Thus, I consider "Me and You, Pal" to convey the real feeling of the Japanese (though "Both You and I" is purely grammatically correct). Similarly, for "Kafuku", Naruse makes repeated use of ups and downs visually -- and the word means "vicissitudes" or "the good and bad things of life" -- so I'm just going to call it "Ups and Downs" for now. ("Learn From Experience" is a dreadful mis-titling, at odds with the essence of the film -- I wonder where it originated).

Tsuma to shite onna to shite / As a Wife, As a Woman (Mikio NARUSE, 1961)

Keijiro and Ayako Kono (Masayuki Mori and Chikage Awashima) seem like a picture-book upper middle-class family. He is a respected professor and the couple has two amiable children (a high school-aged girl and middle school-aged boy). But the Kono's domestic siutuation is more complicated than it seems on the surface. The children are actually the illegitimate children of Kono's long-time mistress, Miho (Hideko Takamine). To compensate for giving up the children, the Konos subsidize a bar which Miho operates. Ayako, interested in eliminating her husband's continuing interest in Miho, pays the bar girls to "spy" on Miho, in the hope of showing Miho is not "faithful" to her husband. Miho becomes tired of the situation, and proposes that she break off relations with Kono but be given outright owner ship of the bar. After Ayako flatly rejects this (not wanting to bear the expense), Miho's mother (played by the delightfully redoubtable Choko Iida) suggests that, for leverage, Miho demand the children back. This proposal infuriates Ayako, and she decides to sell the bar out from under Miho. Miho retaliates by telling her son (who thinks she is only a somewhat engaging but disreputable friend of her parents) about his true parentage. He comes home distraught and locks himself into his room; when his big sister persuades him to let her in, he tells her the truth in turn. The two children angrily reject all three "parents". Afterwards, Miho and her mother are seen packing up their belongings, in preparation for a move to more humble quarters and her new job as a street vendor. Miho's mother nonetheless sings cheerfully as she packs. To Miho's complaint that singing is out of place under the circumstances, her mother replies that she likes to sing and
things can't be helped by not singing. As the final scene, we see the two children in different school uniforms at a new school, it appears that they demanded to be sent away to boarding school so as to avoid having to deal (at least for a while) with the problematic adults in their lives.

The color cinemascope photography here ( by Jun Yasumoto, who shot Yamanaka's wonderful "Million Ryo Pot" in the 30s and films by Naruse, Inagaki, Toyoda and Ichikawa therafter) is superb. The initial frosty civility and subsequent savage hostility between Ayako and Miho is masterfully handled by Takamine and Awashima. And the mother-daughter interactions between Choko Iida and Takamine are quite delightful (including a number of impromptu "duets"). A
Naruse masterpiece that clearly deserves to be better known.

Onna no naka ni iru tanin / The Stranger Within a Woman (Mikio NARUSE, 1966)

Although Naruse demonstrated mastery of both color and cinemascope in his 60s films, he reverted to black-andd-white Academy format for his antepenultimate film. Perhaps this use of a conservative format was intended to counterbalance the fact that this film involves the most shocking plot of any Naruse film to date.

Again the film focuses on an ostensibly normal family father (plauyed by Keiju Kobayashi), mother (Michiyo Aratama) and two adorable young children. Tragedy strikes the family of their best friends (Tatsuya Mihashi and Mitsuko Kusabue) soon after the film begins, the wife of this childless couple is found murdered in her bed. Through flashbacks and confessions, it is gradually revealed that Kobayashi and Kusabue were carrying on an affair and that she
enjoyed "rough sex" (which one day went too far, ending in her accidental death). Aratama's goal is too keep her husband from confessing, and ruining the family's honor and comfortable middle-class existence. He, however, is subject to ever-increasing throes of guilt and remorse. Aratama is left with the dilemma of what to do....

This film is as visually striking as it is sensational in terms of plot. Despite the out-of-the-ordinary subject matter, Naruse typically tends to downplay any sense of hysteria treating the events almost as if they depict just another little slice of ordinary suburban life. A fascinating film albeit more reminiscent of Nomura's work than of the "typical" Naruse film.

Hikinige / Hit and Run (Mikio NARUSE, 1966)

In Naruse's next to last film, he returned to cinemascope format, but stayed with black and white film. This is once again, in terms of plot, a bit of a shocker. Soon after we meet Kuniko (a
young widow, played by Hideko Takamine) and her much-beloved young only son, the boy is run over by Kinuko (played by Yoko Tsukasa the rich spoiled wife of an automobile executive).
Kinuko, it turns out, was distracted at the time of the accident because her companion in the car, a hunkish younger man who is her lover, had just told her of his plan to soon begin a far-away
job. Kinuko tells her husband of the accident (but not the precipitating cause), and he orders the corporate chauffeur (Yutaka Sada, who was also the unfortunate chauffeur in "High and Low").
Luckily for him, he gets off with a small fine and a suspended sentence.

Kuniko is disgusted, and while drowning her post-trial sorrows at a bar with her yakuza-ish younger brother, overhears an old lady discussing the accident with her friends, mention that "lady drivers are so dreadful". As it turns out, the old lady was an eyewitness -- and can describe the real hit and run driver. However, because the case has already been satisfactoriy closed, the
police take no interest in the story of Kuniko and her witness. Consequently, Kuniko decides to seek revenge on her own. She wangles her way into the executive's household as a temporary
domestic servant – and because she is so devoted, soon gets hired as a live-in maid, on a more permanent basis. While there, she fantasizes methods of taking revenge against the rich couple's son (almost the same age as her own dead one). Kuniko actually makes a few furtive (but thwarted) attempts to carry out her plan of revenge against the boy. But, as she grows increasingly fond of him, she wonders whether she shouldn't take revenge directly against his guilty mother instead. Meanwhile, Kinuko is growing increasingly distraught over the impending departure of her lover.

Since this is a suspense thriller, I'll refrain from discussing the plot further.

This film is unique in Naruse's output in that it not only makes frequent use of flashbacks (far more common in these late films than in earlier ones), but also actually depicts Kuniko's fantasies (these are shown in very bright, very whitened tones). This technique turns out to be crucial in deciphering what actually happens at the climax of the film. It would seem that Takanine was not entirely comfortable with her part in this film as, from time to time, she resorts to more generic acting than was her norm. Not an entirely successful film, by any means, but nonetheless quite an interesting one.

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#5 Post by tavernier » Tue Jun 14, 2005 10:04 pm

What do you recommend for the first-time Naruse DVD buyer? (I'm assuming none of the available discs have English subs.)

And where is the best and easiest etailer for a non-Japanese speaker?

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#6 Post by Steven H » Tue Jun 14, 2005 10:08 pm

Michael Kerpan wrote:You don't seem to get a choice on the Masterworks collection -- its a 5 DVD box set -- from Toho, I would presume.

For some reason, "Lightning" and "Older Brother, Younger Sister" were released by Daiei initially -- maybe Naruse was "on loan" to them for these projects? Daiei's film business was bought by Kadokawa recently.
According to this post at the asian cinema board the poster seems to have information that individual titles will be available for sale. However, he doesn't let on where these retailers are.

Shame that the Daiei releases have the same feelings about english subtitles (though this lack of english subs *does* indicate they're interested in selling the rights abroad, correct?) I'm excited to see what state these films are in period though. Hoping for the best.

There isn't much *to* buy... yet. Right now there are five films available in Spain (though of questionable quality in a couple respects) with only spanish subs (Mother, Sound of the Mountain, When a Woman Ascends the Stairs, Scattered Clouds, and Floating Clouds.) There are also two DVDs out in Japan with *no* subs (Older Brother, Younger Sister and Lightning) which will be followed by a five film box set next month.

I would recommend looking for the two World Artists VHS tapes of When A Woman Ascends the Stairs or Late Chyrsanthemums. Also, Criterion *might* be working on something, and James Quandt of the Cinemateque Ontario is putting a retrospective together for late 2005/2006.

Looking on eBay is an option as well. Every now and again something of his pops up. There are some english subbed copies of films floating around, but they're relatively difficult to come across. Its possible access will be made easier to subbed bootlegs in the future.

There really should be some kind of Naruse fansite with this information readily available, but ah well.

edit: the best websites for japanese releases are either cdjapan.co.jp or yesasia.com, and the spanish releases are available from dvdgo.com. I would just check amazon.com for the VHS versions, which look excellent as far as VHS are concerned.

another edit: changed "Late Chyrsanthemums" to "Scattered Clouds" in the Spanish sets
Last edited by Steven H on Tue Jun 14, 2005 11:16 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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#7 Post by tavernier » Tue Jun 14, 2005 10:10 pm

Thanks for the info!
Steven H wrote:There isn't much *to* buy... yet. Right now there are five films available in Spain (though of questionable quality in a couple respects) with only spanish subs (Mother, Sound of the Mountain, When a Woman Ascends the Stairs, the Late Chyrsanthemum, and Floating Clouds.) There are also two DVDs out in Japan with *no* subs (Older Brother, Younger Sister and Lightning) which will be followed by a five film box set next month.

I would recommend looking for the two World Artists VHS tapes of When A Woman Ascends the Stairs or Late Chyrsanthemums. Also, Criterion *might* be working on something, and James Quandt of the Cinemateque Ontario is putting a retrospective together for late 2005/2006.

Looking on eBay is an option as well. Every now and again something of his pops up. There are some english subbed copies of films floating around, but they're relatively difficult to come across. Its possible access will be made easier to subbed bootlegs in the future.

There really should be some kind of Naruse fansite with this information readily available, but ah well.

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#8 Post by Michael Kerpan » Tue Jun 14, 2005 11:03 pm

Steven H wrote:According to this post at the asian cinema board the poster seems to have information that individual titles will be available for sale. However, he doesn't let on where these retailers are.

Shame that the Daiei releases have the same feelings about english subtitles (though this lack of english subs *does* indicate they're interested in selling the rights abroad, correct?) I'm excited to see what state these films are in period though. Hoping for the best.
It's much cheaper buying the sets! Especially if you pre-order from Amazon Japan. ;~}

In any event, the Toho website indicates that Vol. 2 (to be released at the end of August) will include 5 more films, all great ones: Yama no oto (Sound Of The Mountain), Nagareru (Flowing), Horoki (A Wanderer's Notebook, alternately Her Lonely Road), Onna ga kaidan o agaru toki (When A Woman Ascends The Stairs) and Midaregumo (Scattered Clouds).

No mention of a Vol. 3 yet -- so I fear this will be all we're likely to see anytime soon.

Alas, nothing really encouraging to add to what Steven H wrote -- except that there were four films released in France on video (including my favorite "Repast") that might turn up on eBay or such like. These have only been out of print for a couple of years.

Also, "Mother" was released on video in the US by Sony ages ago -- as was "Wife Be Like a Rose" and "Flunky Work Hard" by World Artists. These have been out of print for at least a decade. I have seen a copy of the former appear on eBay, but never the latter.

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#9 Post by Steven H » Sun Jul 17, 2005 9:47 pm

Looking forward to the first Masterworks set this Friday, I set out to a local library to see if I could dig anything up about this filmmaker (just the Ritchie and Mellen stuff I've read so far.) Came across an article in an older issue of Film Quarterly (Vol 34, no. 4) by Philip Lopate, where he had an interesting quote from Hideko Takamine about Naruse's lack of involvement with his actors (more Cassavettes than Bresson).

Hideko Takamine: "Mr. Naruse was more than merely reticent; he was a person whose refusal to talk was downright malicious. even during the shooting of a picture, he would never say if something was good or bad, interesting or trite. He was completely unresponsive directorally (there was a sentence that was torn and missing here)... so it was always up to me to decide how to act on my own... It was at the start of principle photography on the film Untamed that I mustered all my courage and addressed a question to Mr. Naruse.

"'How should I approach this role?'
"'It'll be over before you know it.'
"This was all the answer I was to recieve before he apsed into his usual silence, and I was caught in my own trap. What a mean old man!"

Thinking about Takamine saying this is funny in itself.

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#10 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sun Jul 17, 2005 11:20 pm

I think the tone of her recollections (when read in whole) is actually quite affectionate -- I think her use of "mean" is hyperbolic (and humorous).

It is funny, I have read elsewhere that Naruse DID work with Takamine in finalizing her scripts, making certain that she felt what she had to say as credible.

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#11 Post by Steven H » Mon Jul 18, 2005 1:10 am

Michael Kerpan wrote:I think the tone of her recollections (when read in whole) is actually quite affectionate -- I think her use of "mean" is hyperbolic (and humorous).
I don't doubt it. Where can you read her recollections in whole? I would love this.

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#12 Post by Michael Kerpan » Mon Jul 18, 2005 11:30 am

Where can you read her recollections in whole? I would love this.
A program book from the 1984 retrospective: Page 1 - Page 2

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#13 Post by backstreetsbackalright » Mon Jul 18, 2005 1:22 pm

Steven H wrote:Came across an article in an older issue of Film Quarterly (Vol 34, no. 4) by Philip Lopate, where he had an interesting quote from Hideko Takamine about Naruse's lack of involvement with his actors (more Cassavettes than Bresson).
I'll hafta check for sure when I get back home, but I think this essay is also in Lopate's Totally, Tenderly, Tragically collection. I know for sure that there's an essay on Naruse in there, but I'm not certain if it's the same one.

How much Naruse is actually available for viewing (with English subs)? Here in Seattle there are three we can lay hands on.

Any favorites?

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#14 Post by Michael Kerpan » Mon Jul 18, 2005 2:22 pm

backstreetsbackalright wrote:How much Naruse is actually available for viewing (with English subs)? Here in Seattle there are three we can lay hands on....
Almost nothing is available. I had to watch nth generation videos of TV broadcasts (some with English subs -- often PAL to NTSC conversions), French subbed videos, a Spanish subbed DVD, unsubbed japanese videos, etc.

This summer, a bunch of unsubbed Japanese DVDs will come out. (Right now the only Japanese DVD is of "Ginza Cosmetics" -- which is actually a pretty good film -- his first real success from the post-war period).
backstreetsbackalright wrote:Any favorites?
In no particular order (after the first two) ....

Meshi (Repast)
Yama no oto (Sound of the Mountain)

Inazuma (Lightning)
Horoki (Wandererer's Notebook / Her Lonely Lane)
Tsuma yo bara no yo ni (Wife Be Like a Rose)
Okasan (Mother)
Musume tsuma haha (Daughters, Wives and a Mother)
Kimi to wakarete (Apart from You)

But of the 19 or so I've seen, I've been impressed by all. The only ones I even found problematic were:

The very early "Flunky Work Hard" was a bit naive and overly melodramatic.

"Ani imoto" didn't quite work because a key role was miscast (by the normally fine Masayuki Mori playing a completely unsuitable part) -- but was otherwise quite interesting.

"Midareru" (Yearning) was really excellent up until the end -- when the plot careened wildly out of control.

Yogoto no yume / Nightly Dreams (Mikio NARUSE, 1933)

1933 was the artistic high point of Naruse's career in silent films. He garnered both third and fourth place in Kinema Junpo's best of the year citations (the most prestigious film "award") this year -- for "Apart from You" and this film, respectively (Ozu took first place for "Passing Fancy" and Mizoguchi second for "Water Magician"). Despite this, he got no respect from his boss at Shochiku, and soon would move on to PCL (the predecessor of Toho), where he would stay (mostly) for over 30 years.

(spoilers) In this film, Sumiko Kurishima plays a woman whose husband had deserted her, following the birth of her child. For lack of any better option, she has been forced to support her son and herself as working as a hostess at a waterfront bar. When her ne'er-do-well husband (Tatsuo Saito) returns, her first impulse is to reject him, but her neighbors prevail on her to give him a second chance. Saito proves to be a thoughtful father and a loving husband, but in depression-stricken Tokyo is unable to find work (and is deeply embarrassed that his his wife must support the family in the tawdry way she does). When his child is injured in an accident, he tries to get money to pay for medical care by committing a robbery. His wife refuses the money, urging him to turn himself in. Unable to bear the shame,he drowns himself. At the end, less than a week after Saito's return, mother and son are left alone again.

Kurishima's performance here is simply one of the best I've ever seen. She was the first woman star of the Japanese cinema -- and by this point -- had been at the top of her field for over a decade (not counting early work as a child). Her ability to express herself (despite maintaining great reserve), with both face and body, is extraordinary. Tatsuo Saito's performance in a rare dramatic part (albeit with a few comic moments) is likewise exceptional, capturing the dreamy sweetness of his immensely kind (but unable to fit into the everyday world) -- one has no trouble understanding why Kurishima (whose everyday life is so filled with sordidness) has been attracted to him (and is willing to give him another chance). Supporting roles are (as usual with Shochiku's top tier efforts) superbly filled -- with regulars like Takeshi Sakamoto (as an overbearing ship's captain lusting after Kurishima) and Choko Iida (as the crusty, but ultimately not unfeeling, proprietress of the waterfront bar).

The cinematography (and editing) of this film is as perfect as the performances. This is Naruse's most visually audacious film ever, with an unsettling pattern of repeatedly tracking towards (and sometimes away from) characters, use of extremely deep visual fields -- and some extrraordinary cutting. Indeed, Naruse's techiques were so audacious here that (despite critical praise), he was forbidden from using them again at Shochiku (thus, prompting his discontent -- and leading Ozu to recommend that he seize his opportunity to shift to a newer studio which would give him greater support).

Bara gessen / Ware of the Roses (Mikio NARUSE, 1950)

Made for Shochiku during a hiatus in his relationship with Toho, this is the first Naruse film I've encountered that struck me as "routine". Like his earlier "Kafuku", this seemed rather like a teen (or early 20-something) girl's (young working woman's) romance rather than a "home drama" -- but it is considerably less visually (and emotionally) moving.

Kuniko Miyake (a perennial supporting actress in Ozu) inherits the reins of a cosmetics company after her husband dies. She and her younger sisters (Setsuko Wakayama and Yoko Katsuragi) initially live together. The two younger sisters are both smitten by Koji Tsuruta, but settle for less rewarding spouses. The older sister also remarries. All three then proceed to disentangle themselves from their improvident matches. One of the sisters winds up with our hero (I think), while the other moves back in with her big sister. Despite an excellent cast, the script is pretty dull -- and most visuals are simply functional.

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#15 Post by artfilmfan » Mon Jul 18, 2005 9:03 pm

Steven H wrote:Looking forward to the first Masterworks set this Friday, ...
Y'all are making it very difficult for me to resist the temptation of getting these boxsets.

I'm going to resist the temptation to blind-buy the unsubtitled Naruse boxsets (mainly due to the high price); but it might be difficult to do because these films have been awarded so many NE stars. I've only seen "Late Chrysanthemums" (nice to see Ineko Arima again) and most of "When a Woman Ascends the Stairs". It's been a one-and-a-half year project watching this film ("Woman") and I still have not finished it yet Smile Hopefully, there is a Naruse retrospective sometimes in the near future before the upcoming boxsets go OOP. It's much easier to watch a film without subtitles after seeing it with subtitles the first time around. Did Naruse always use background music constantly in his films? That's one thing I notice (which I don't like) when watching "Woman" (can't remember whether he did the same thing with "LC"). In contrast, Ozu always used the proper amount of music and at the right time to enhance the mood of his later-year films.

I hope to be able to see a subtitled "Repast" someday, a film which has received so many NE stars.

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#16 Post by Matt » Thu Sep 01, 2005 12:13 am

Okay. I need some help. There is a Naruse series coming to the University of Wisconsin-Madison Cinematheque this fall. I can probably make it over to a couple of the nights, but not all. Any recommendations on which nights I should go? I'm leaning toward a couple of the double-features, for obvious reasons.

Saturday, September 3
Repast (Meshi) (Japan, 1951, 96 min., 35mm)

Saturday, September 10
Mother (Okaasan) (Japan, 1952, 98 min., 35mm)
Late Chrysanthemums (Bangiku) (Japan, 1954, 101 min., 35mm)

Saturday, September 17
Wife! Be Like a Rose! (Tsuma yo bara no yo ni) (Japan, 1935, 73 min., 35mm)
The Whole Family Works (Hataraku ikka) (Japan, 1939, 65 min., 35mm)

Saturday, September 24
Floating Clouds (Ukigumo) (Japan, 1953, 123 min., 35mm)

Saturday, October 1
Lightning (Inazuma) (Japan, 1952, 87 min., 35mm)

Saturday, October 8
When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (Onna ga kaidan wo agaru toki) (Japan, 1960, 86 min., 35mm)

Saturday, October 15
Flunky Work Hard (Koshiben ganbare) (Japan, 1931, 28 min., 16mm)
Every Night's Dreams (Yogoto no yume) (Japan, 1933, 65 min, 16mm)

Saturday, October 22
Flowing (Nagareru) (Japan, 1956, 117 min., 35mm)

Saturday, October 29
Sound of the Mountain (Yama no oto) (Japan, 1954, 94 min., 35mm)
A Wife's Heart (Tsuma no kokoro) (Japan, 1956, 97 min., 35mm)

Saturday, November 5
Daughters, Wife, and a Mother (Musume, tsuma, haha) (Japan, 1960, 121 min., 35mm)

Saturday, November 12
Her Lonely Lane (A Wanderer's Notebook / Horoki) (Japan, 1962, 123 min., 35mm)

Saturday, November 19
Yearning (Midareru) (Japan, 1964, 100 min., 35mm)

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#17 Post by Steven H » Thu Sep 01, 2005 1:14 am

matt wrote:Okay. I need some help. There is a Naruse series coming to the University of Wisconsin-Madison Cinematheque this fall. I can probably make it over to a couple of the nights, but not all. Any recommendations on which nights I should go? I'm leaning toward a couple of the double-features, for obvious reasons.
We probably have different taste, but I can tell you which ones I would go see. The Oct. 15th double feature of the two silent films, Flunky Work Hard and Every Night Dreams (or Nightly Dreams) would be a shoe in (the latter I would be especially interested in seeing with subs.) October 22nd's Flowing would be fantastic. I've heard it might be Naruse's best film (and nigh-impossible to come across.) And probably my favorite Naruse film, Horoki, on Nov. 12th would be a *must see*. This lineup would also give you a nice vew of three different Naruse eras, silent (30s), postwar (50s), postwar cinemascope (60s).

Objectively, substituting the Sept. 15th (I can vouch for them both, though Mother is a grower) or Oct. 29th (haven't seen the latter, but Sound of the Mountain is one of Naruse's best) double feature showings for Flowing would probably be pragmatic. I'm jealous as hell. I doubt any of his films will be showing up in North "subtitles! you mean I gotta effin *read*?!" Carolina.

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#18 Post by tavernier » Thu Sep 01, 2005 1:54 pm

Naruse retro coming to New York's Film Forum in October - from press release:

October 21 - November 17
NARUSE: THE UNKNOWN JAPANESE MASTER 4 weeks! 31 films!
In honor of the 100th anniversary of his birth, the first New York retrospective in over 20 years of director Mikio Naruse, the Japanese master who was "revered by Kurosawa, championed by Susan Sontag, deified in Japan" (James Quandt). Featuring 31 feature films, most of them in new 35mm prints and spanning Naruse's entire career, from 30s silents up to his last film, 1967's Scattered Clouds. Included in the festival are such masterworks as Late Chrysanthemums, Flowing, Floating Clouds, Sound of the Mountain, and, the festival opener, When a Woman Ascends the Stairs. Presented in association with Cinematheque Ontario and the Japan Foundation.

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#19 Post by artfilmfan » Thu Sep 01, 2005 5:13 pm

matt wrote:Saturday, September 3
Repast (Meshi) (Japan, 1951, 96 min., 35mm)

Saturday, September 10
Mother (Okaasan) (Japan, 1952, 98 min., 35mm)
Late Chrysanthemums (Bangiku) (Japan, 1954, 101 min., 35mm)

Saturday, September 24
Floating Clouds (Ukigumo) (Japan, 1953, 123 min., 35mm)

Saturday, October 8
When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (Onna ga kaidan wo agaru toki) (Japan, 1960, 86 min., 35mm)
You are one lucky Cretin, Matt!

I've seen four of the films I quoted above (except "Okaasan") and they are all either very good or excellent.

Assuming that you don't have access to the VHS available in the U.S., and even if it will most likely be released on DVD with subtitles in the future, having a chance to see When a Woman Ascends the Stairs on the big screen is something you don't want to miss. It is an excellent film if you have the patience to wait until the end. I can only imagine how beautiful this film looks on a big screen.

Although some will disagree, Repast is another excellent film (if you like some of Ozu's films such as "Early Spring" and "Early Summer").

I think Floating Clouds is a very good film. It is visually stunning. However, knowing how much you dislike "The English Patient", it's very likely that you will not like this film. You will probably enjoy Late Chrysanthemums (a very good film) more than this one.

By the time all of the recommendations are in, you will most likely have to see most of the films that they are showing.

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#20 Post by Steven H » Fri Sep 02, 2005 2:46 am

This really hasn't much to do with the topic, but I figured interested parties would tune in to this thread for some non-english subtitled Takemine Hideko/Hara Setsuko DVD news.

Two Mei Ah VCDs (both available for about eight dollars) starring Takemine on yesasia, the first directed by Matsuyama Zenzo, Happiness of Us Alone, about a deaf woman and a mute man (might be the other way around) who fall in love. The other VCD is Naruse's Horoki (AKA Her Lonely Lane/A Wanderer's Notebook). The second *would* make for a great day for me, except it's already available (albeit in a $200 form) and probably looks better. Still, nice news.

On Sept. 22nd a three film Shintoho box set of 50s films will be available for about a $100 (more than decent price for R2 Japan films). The first two films star Takemine, one from 1952 (directly before Naruse's Lightning) is called Tokyo Dimples, the sophomore effort from Matsubayashi (Uehara Ken is in it as well.) The second, from 1953, is a Gosho Heinosuke film called Where Chimneys Are Seen, which I've read about and wanted to get a hold of. That one has Takemine and Uehara again, but also Tanaka Kinuyo and Sakamoto Takeshi. I've seen a couple Gosho films from this period, and they're definitely worth a look. Lastly, from 1955, Kurata Fumito's Nobuko Rides on a Cloud (couldn't find a link for this one by itself, though here's an imdb.com link) which stars Hara Setsuko. I'm not entirely sure about this last one, I did some looking around and it seemed to fit, though I can't read Japanese and could be mistaken. Sounds like a decent buy, though I hope the transfers will be along the lines of the recently released TOHO Naruse sets.

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#21 Post by Michael Kerpan » Tue Sep 06, 2005 4:19 pm

artfilmfan wrote:Did Naruse always use background music constantly in his films? That's one thing I notice (which I don't like) when watching "Woman" (can't remember whether he did the same thing with "LC"). In contrast, Ozu always used the proper amount of music and at the right time to enhance the mood of his later-year films.
I do think Naruse may use music more than Ozu (on average) -- but generally they use music and sound rather similarly. I think "Chrysanthemums" uses less than "Woman Ascending". That said, I love the jazzy score for "Woman Ascending".

I hope subtitled versions come out soon (of course, if you read Spanish, there are a few already). I can't really show these off to others without subs.

- Repast (Meshi) (Japan, 1951, 96 min., 35mm)
My favorite Naruse film -- I hope you got to see this. One of Setsuko Hara's greatest performances. Ditto for Ken Uehara. Funny, moving and thought ptrovoking.

- Mother (Okaasan) (Japan, 1952, 98 min., 35mm)
The voice-over narration in this initially put me off a bit, when I first saw this a few years back. On re-watching, I managed to set this aside (It doesn't sound remotely like Kyoko Kagawa) -- and found the film generally wonderful (despite a few moments that are quite melodramatic).

- Late Chrysanthemums (Bangiku) (Japan, 1954, 101 min., 35mm)
A relatively high degree of comedy in this (plus plenbty of pathos). Haruko Sugimura is great in the lead role as a rather curdled ex-geisha turned moneylender -- but her ex-geisha cronies are also quite good.

- Wife! Be Like a Rose! (Tsuma yo bara no yo ni) (Japan, 1935, 73 min., 35mm)
One of the first Japanese films to be shown in the US (shortly after its Japanese release). The critics dismissed it, alas. I liked it a lot -- but need to re-watch it. The leading lady became Mrs. Naruse (for awhile -- but it didn't ultimately work out).

- The Whole Family Works (Hataraku ikka) (Japan, 1939, 65 min., 35mm)
not yet seen

- Floating Clouds (Ukigumo) (Japan, 1953, 123 min., 35mm)
One of the few genuinely tragic melodramas made by Naruse. Visually, one of the most gorgeous black and white films ever made. Hideko Takamine is incredible in this.

- Lightning (Inazuma) (Japan, 1952, 87 min., 35mm)
Another film that borders on comic (albeit with pathos scattered here and there). It's nice seeing Takamine in a less heavy role. One of the most immediately engaging of Naruse's films.

- When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (Onna ga kaidan wo agaru toki) (Japan, 1960, 86 min., 35mm)
Cinemascope black and qwhite at its most gorgeous -- with a great jazzy score -- and a superb performance by Takamine. A little melodramatic, but very moving.

- Flunky Work Hard (Koshiben ganbare) (Japan, 1931, 28 min., 16mm)
More slapstick in style than Ozu;s "I Was Born But" (more like Ozu's fragmentary "Tokkan kozo"), but with a harsher tone -- and a rather extreme melodramatic episode near the end.

- Every Night's Dreams (Yogoto no yume) (Japan, 1933, 65 min, 16mm)
My favorite Naruse silent. Sumiko Kurishima (later in Ozu's "What Did the Lady Forget") is tremendous in this film. And Tadao Saito, who usually did comedy for Ozu, gets a rare opportunity to tackle a much more serious part (and is wonderful). Set mainly in waterfront locations -- this is a very visualy compelling film.

- Flowing (Nagareru) (Japan, 1956, 117 min., 35mm)
Not yet seen -- ask me again in a couple of weeks.

- Sound of the Mountain (Yama no oto) (Japan, 1954, 94 min., 35mm)
Another of Hara's greatest performances. And also So Yamamura's best --as her father-in-law (his son, alas, is a rotten husband to Hara). Based on one of Kawabata's greatest novels, the film is even more intense and moving. Probably my second favorite Naruse.

- A Wife's Heart (Tsuma no kokoro) (Japan, 1956, 97 min., 35mm)
not yet seen

- Daughters, Wife, and a Mother (Musume, tsuma, haha) (Japan, 1960, 121 min., 35mm)
Visually, this color cinemascope film is a bit below-average. A lot of great performances though (including Hara at her most charming and romantic). The story of a rather dysfunctional extended family is interesting -- but complicated.

- Her Lonely Lane (A Wanderer's Notebook / Horoki) (Japan, 1962, 123 min., 35mm)
My favorite film biography -- Takamine stars as Fumiko Hayashi (whose books supplied the basis for many of Naruse's best films) and Kinuyo Tanaaka as her mother. One of Takamine's best performances.
Saturday, November 19

- Yearning (Midareru) (Japan, 1964, 100 min., 35mm)
Visually extraordinary (another b&w cinemascope marvel). The ending doesn't stike me as especially well tied to the rest of the film -- but this is still very worth watching.

- Matsuyama Zenzo / Happiness of Us Alone
Interesting -- but quite melodramatic compared to Naruse and Ozu. The ending really infuriated me -- but I enjoyed most of what led up to it.

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#22 Post by artfilmfan » Tue Sep 06, 2005 9:00 pm

I finally watched Yearning and The Stranger Within a Woman from the Naruse boxset 1.

Yearning: I liked this film, but a little less than Floating Clouds. Where is the setting (location) for the ending of the film?

I had mixed feelings about The Stranger Within a Woman. Although I enjoyed the film, it's not my type of a movie. Maybe I'll like it a little more when I see it with subtitles. In some indoor night scenes, the hands and the faces of the actors glow. I wonder if it is a problem with the lighting or the use of high contrast black and white photography, or both. Anyway, it was strange seeing them glow like that. I have one spoiler question:
SpoilerShow
Did the wife take matter into her own hands and "silence" the husband?
Please mask your answer to the above spoiler question with the "spoiler" feature. Thanks in advance.

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#23 Post by Michael Kerpan » Mon Sep 12, 2005 8:47 am

artfilmfan wrote:Yearning: I liked this film, but a little less than Floating Clouds. Where is the setting (location) for the ending of the film?
Not really sure-- other than one of any number of mountain hot springs resorts. Not quite the same level as "Floating Clouds", but then few films of this sort DO equal this.
artfilmfan wrote:I had mixed feelings about The Stranger Within a Woman. Although I enjoyed the film, it's not my type of a movie. Maybe I'll like it a little more when I see it with subtitles. In some indoor night scenes, the hands and the faces of the actors glow. I wonder if it is a problem with the lighting or the use of high contrast black and white photography, or both. Anyway, it was strange seeing them glow like that.
I liked the extreme contrast in this. Did you try turning your TV's contrast down a notch? Not my favorite type of film either -- but I think it is interesting that Naruse was still "experimenting" at this late point in his career.
artfilmfan wrote:
SpoilerShow
Did the wife take matter into her own hands and "silence" the husband?
Please mask your answer to the above spoiler question with the "spoiler" feature.
SpoilerShow
Yes. I think this may have been done with poison that was handed out for people to commit suicide with, if deemed necessary, towards the end of WW2 .
Yama no oto / Sound of the Mountain (Mikio NARUSE, 1954)

The Japanese DVD of this looks excellent -- too bad there's no subs. Based on Kawabata's great novel, the film is probably greater still. This story of the affectionate relationship between a father-in-law and daughter-in-law (Setsuko Hara is married to So Yamamura's rotten-behaving son, Ken Uehara) is remarkably moving. Almost certainly Yamamura's greatest performance -- and one of Hara's best, too. Indeed the whole cast is flawless (all the way down to the little girl who plays Hara's niece).

Nagareru / Flowing (Mikio NARUSE, 1956)
Kinuyo Tanaka, Isuzu Yamada, Hideko Takamine, Mariko Okada, Haruko Sugimura, Sumiko Kurishima (lured back into the studio after almost 2 decades of retirement) and Chieko Nakakita. If one is a fan of classic Japanese cinema, this roster of the film's star actresses is enough to leave one breathless. And the performances in this tale of the3 old-fashioned world of the geisha falling into collapse are as wonderful as one could hope. Since this is unsubbed, one watching is scarcely sufficient to assess this fully. Amother excellent DVD from Toho.

Onna ga kaidan o agaru toki / When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (official English name), more accurately The woman ascends the stairs each day (Mikio NARUSE, 1960)
Aside from a few occasional flickers the new Japanese DVD of this black and white, Tohoscope visual masterpiece is really remarkable. Hideko Takamine gives one of her best performances here as a widowed bar proprietess who (having reached the age of 30) would desperately love to find a more tolerable life -- but is tied to an occupation that makes her physically ill. The generally good story gets a bit melodramatic at points -- and drags just a little every now and then -- but the ending is extrraordinarily moving.
Last edited by Michael Kerpan on Mon Sep 12, 2005 11:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

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#24 Post by flambeur » Mon Sep 12, 2005 9:02 am

For anyone interested, there is a big Naruse retrospective playing at Cinematecque in Toronto, starting in Oct . I'll post a link shortly.

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#25 Post by backstreetsbackalright » Mon Sep 12, 2005 1:33 pm

Michael Kerpan wrote:Yama no oto (Sound of the Mountain)
Is this an adaptation of Kawabata's Sound of the Mountain?

Anyone notice the big ups to our own Michael Kerpan in the latest issue of Film Comment?

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