912 An Actor's Revenge

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swo17
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912 An Actor's Revenge

#1 Post by swo17 » Wed Nov 15, 2017 4:03 pm

An Actor's Revenge

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A uniquely prolific and chameleonic figure of world cinema, Kon Ichikawa delivered a burst of stylistic bravado with this intricate tale of betrayal and retribution. Set in the cloistered world of nineteenth-century kabuki theater, the film charts a female impersonator's attempts to avenge the deaths of his parents, who were driven to insanity and suicide by a trio of corrupt men. Ichikawa takes the conventions of melodrama and turns them on their head, bringing the hero's fractured psyche to life in boldly experimental widescreen compositions infused with kaleidoscopic color, pop-art influences, and meticulous choreography. Anchored by a magnificently androgynous performance by Kazuo Hasegawa, reprising a role he had played on-screen three decades earlier, An Actor's Revenge is an eye-popping examination of how the illusions of art intersect with life.

SPECIAL FEATURES

• New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• Rare 1999 Directors Guild of Japan interview with director Kon Ichikawa, conducted by critic and filmmaker Yuki Mori
• New interview with critic, filmmaker, and festival programmer Tony Rayns
• New English subtitle translation
• PLUS: An essay by critic Michael Sragow

mteller
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Re: 912 An Actor's Revenge

#2 Post by mteller » Wed Nov 15, 2017 6:32 pm

So delighted! One of my all-time favorites, should look gorgeous on Blu!

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Randall Maysin
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Re: 912 An Actor's Revenge

#3 Post by Randall Maysin » Wed Nov 22, 2017 10:22 am

Kon Ichikawa is just someone who I love, a true kindred spirit, on the basis of one film which I loved, Odd Obsession, even though it wasn't really that good a film on a serious level, and of this film, which in all likelihood is the better film although I can't of course really explain why, being moi, and which I didn't actually enjoy as much as Odd Obsession. So I'm just wondering if anyone who perhaps agrees with me about these two films can recommend which Ichikawa films are as fun as Odd Obsession?

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Michael Kerpan
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Re: 912 An Actor's Revenge

#4 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed Nov 22, 2017 11:39 am

I love Kon Ichikawa -- but only during the period when his wife was his principal writer.

A few of my favorites: The Hole (Machiko Kyo channeling Nancy Drew as an intrepid cub reporter), Crowded Streetcar (Bunuelian -- young salaryman with job from hell and rather demented parents played by Chishu Ryu and Haruko Sugimura), Ten Dark Women (a cad's wife and all his many girlfriens gang up on him -- to seek revenge -- while many also trying to get a sole claim on him). I cannot understand why KI's (and Natto Wada's) brilliant black comedies are so ignored.

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Re: 912 An Actor's Revenge

#5 Post by Werewolf by Night » Wed Nov 22, 2017 11:57 am

Michael Kerpan wrote:Crowded Streetcar (Bunuelian -- young salaryman with job from hell and rather demented parents played by Chishu Ryu and Haruko Sugimura)
I need to see this! I don’t suppose there is an English-friendly version available?

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Michael Kerpan
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Re: 912 An Actor's Revenge

#6 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed Nov 22, 2017 3:16 pm

Alas, I don't know of any English-subbed versions of the films I recommended. I saw some in a retrospective -- and saw others unsubbed.

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Re: 912 An Actor's Revenge

#7 Post by mteller » Mon Nov 27, 2017 5:04 pm

My top Ichikawas:

1) An Actor's Revenge (a perfect movie IMO)
2) The Burmese Harp
3) Kokoro
4) Fires on the Plain
5) The Devil's Ballad
6) Ten Dark Women
7) The Inugami Family
8) Odd Obsession
9) The Makioka Sisters
10) Tokyo Olympiad

I've seen a small handful of others, all okay but none worth writing home about. I was surprised to find that his version of the "47 Ronin" tale is my least favorite of the four I've seen... gorgeously realized but dull and dreary. Princess from the Moon is an inept but fun novelty, especially if you've seen Tale of Princess Kaguya.

I've not yet seen The Hole or Crowded Streetcar. Hopefully those will show up with English subs at some point.

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Apperson
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Re: 912 An Actor's Revenge

#8 Post by Apperson » Fri Jan 19, 2018 11:45 am


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Michael Kerpan
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Re: 912 An Actor's Revenge

#9 Post by Michael Kerpan » Fri Jan 19, 2018 1:16 pm

The Criterion screen captures seem to be uniformly darker looking than the DVD versions (a bit too dark, perhaps?)

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Finch
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Re: 912 An Actor's Revenge

#10 Post by Finch » Fri Jan 19, 2018 4:49 pm

Those screencaps make it harder to hold out for the BFI Blu-Ray but I still have to get my kevyip down and at likely nearly half the price of the Criterion, it's a no-brainer. It's my favourite Ichikawa as well and it's wonderful to see it look so splendid.

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Re: 912 An Actor's Revenge

#11 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sat Sep 08, 2018 8:38 am

Finally getting near the end of Criterion sale purchases...

I've seen this film before, in various incarnations, but this blows all previous experiences out of the water. This transfer is stunning -- which makes this splendid movie even more pleasing. Hasegawa is great in his dual role here -- and the rest of the all-star cast is also wonderful. Natto Wada (Mrs. Ichikawa) had the knack of writing scripts that brought out the best in her husband (visually and dramatically) -- and this is one of her best scripts.

Not just a must-buy BluRay releases -- but a must-see (and re-see) one. (Haven't gotten to extras yet).

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hearthesilence
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Re: 912 An Actor's Revenge

#12 Post by hearthesilence » Tue Jan 29, 2019 10:15 pm

Just out of curiosity, does the Criterion BD show any banding going on during the series of dissolves at about 0:42:21-0:42:45? (I’m seeing it on the BFI BD and I’m wondering if it’s in the master itself.)

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Mr Sausage
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An Actor's Revenge (Kon Ichikawa, 1963)

#13 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Dec 07, 2020 6:31 am

DISCUSSION ENDS MONDAY, December 21st

Members have a two week period in which to discuss the film before it's moved to its dedicated thread in The Criterion Collection subforum. Please read the Rules and Procedures.

This thread is not spoiler free. This is a discussion thread; you should expect plot points of the individual films under discussion to be discussed openly. See: spoiler rules.

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Michael Kerpan
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Re: An Actor's Revenge (Kon Ichikawa, 1963)

#14 Post by Michael Kerpan » Mon Dec 07, 2020 3:34 pm

I don't think the first version of this (by Kinugasa) is readily available to watch (certainly not with subs). My recollection is that it was more flamboyant (and incoherent even) in its action, but not nearly so "sly" as Ichikawa's remake. It is interesting to compare young Hasegawa in the first to his performance 28 years later. I think he was pretty good in both. The rest of the (all-star) re-make cast outshines the original one. The story that Ichikawa was assigned this film as sort of a rebuke seems strange -- as it was a high profile release with a stellar cast. ;-)

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Michael Kerpan
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Re: An Actor's Revenge (Kon Ichikawa, 1963)

#15 Post by Michael Kerpan » Fri Dec 18, 2020 10:55 am

I didn't even vote on this -- so where are the comments of folks who did? <teardrop>

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therewillbeblus
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Re: An Actor's Revenge (Kon Ichikawa, 1963)

#16 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri Dec 18, 2020 2:39 pm

I didn't vote for this either, but that's because I find it to be a tough film to write about. Even after another viewing today, in an effort to have something more substantial to say, I'm most taken with the playful flexibility of genre and tone to achieve the feeling of the ultimate revenge epic within a normal-length story. Stylistically, this film blends the objective theatrical artifice with intense intimate suspense, often in the same scene (like the pitch-black night fights that are presented as staged but also acutely high-stakes in practically threatening the audience with a violent boundary-less tightening of space, trees and an absence of light clouding our mastery and confidences). The constant disruptions from subjectivity to glance into flashbacks or float to other characters or setpieces hardly color in the narrative so much as they resemble the continual psychological ghosts in memory and personalized narrative fragmentation that haunt our hero and mimic his brokenness. As new characters appear, we are less invested in their introductions, but (at least I) have a knee-jerk reaction to isolate away from these signifiers of an epic, fighting the sprawling eclectic melting pot of details this film forces on us and its hero when all he wants is to narrow his focus against a one-note aim, yet the world's extravagance won't let him off free.

Simultaneously the title makes it explicitly clear that this revenge is in relationship not only with Yukitarō the boy who lost his parents, but with his identity as an actor, a role adopted and lived in (historically accurate as well) on and off screen as a separate gender. The film is about his identity being formed and hardened as a vehicle for revenge and for self-expression, and executes both in sync with one another. The logical trajectory will mean that the completion of the revenge will signal a death of this identity, his existential loop closed as the sole purpose and meaning are fulfilled. It's interesting that he must don a costume to take on this lifelong task, insinuating that either the previous child's identity died with his parents, or that he needed to become another being to separate the complex morality of his 'self' into a creative outlet that can be allowed a single dimension. The acting also resembles the nature of Yukitarō's sly manipulations on his victims, playing them with flamboyant bait and passive aggressive info-drops to set traps with a smiling face, or wooing a woman authentically and inauthentically at once under the guise of full commitment, rationalizing it as a role in which he is fully committed to playing.

The actual forward-momentum narrative entertainment plays out like a great epic of deceit, with meditations on ethics and sharp editing that abrasively floods our visual schemas with information in claustrophobic quarters. In this regard, the film plays as an anti-epic, cornering us in small stages of space without clear parameters, so when we pan out to see a character spying or deviate to other side-convos, the sirens of alert are jarring and serve to threaten any clarity in the path in front of us of an easy revenge, that may have been less anxiety-provoking with open landscapes and deliberately paced expected encounters of most traditional epics. The melodrama is always there though, and all the comedy, action, and suspense orbit around it. There is a revenge scene midway through the film that feels straight out of a horror movie, and remains my favorite in the entire film- when he shifts his role to play one of a ghost and attempts to convince one of his victims to hang themself. It's just a beautiful and surreal depiction of emotional catharsis via psychological violence, so loud and boldly framed by Ichikawa that it's frightening as if too intense for the bounds of this world, or this medium.

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Re: An Actor's Revenge (Kon Ichikawa, 1963)

#17 Post by domino harvey » Fri Dec 18, 2020 2:42 pm

Michael Kerpan wrote:
Fri Dec 18, 2020 10:55 am
I didn't even vote on this -- so where are the comments of folks who did? <teardrop>
This is always the problem: people don’t vote for the film that they have something to say or are willing to watch, just the movie they like best. I’m as guilty as anyone of this, I might add

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