Mikio Naruse (SPOILERS)

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Mikio Naruse (SPOILERS)

Postby groom_daniel » Thu Jan 01, 2004 9:10 pm

Mikio Naruse is the most beguiling of Japanese directors. As Kurosawa said, Naruse's films are like "the flow of a deep river, with a calm surface hiding a rushing, turbulent current below." I've been watching When a Woman Ascends the Stairs, which in anyone else's hands, could've resorted to melodrama, like a 1950's woman's picture, but with Naruse's deft touch, becomes one of the most sympathetic films I've seen. On the surface, Naruse is not a remarkable director, but it's the rhythms of his films, and the blend of melodrama and realism that make him unique. Hideko Takamine plays a bar hostress in Tokyo's Ginza district, who has reached the age of 30, when Japanese women should either be married or become a proprietress of their own business. Takamine's Keiko (or Mama as her clients call her) is one of Naruse's proud, intelligent women, who is not immune to her passions, but refuses to make life easier by prostituting herself. Naruse is famous for stripping all hope from his films, but there's something painfully honest about the way Mama regroups after the disappointments she endures. There's a foreboding that when Mama falls, she'll fall harder than the rest, but she learns to live with herself after compromising her integrity -- an integrity that was her last vesitage of hope from the sorrow that Audie Block called, "wound called life for which there is no salve.” The maturity of this film, which isn't one of Naruse's best or most famous, is astounding. Mama had my complete empathy. She so very human, and the sadness that punctuates her search for happiness is so much more unflinching than the good nature of Ozu or the tragic endings of Mizoguchi. Naruse seemed to be far more attune to the realities of the women he made films about. His films, "affirm the impossibility of escape," as Senses of Cinema writer Alexander Jacoby describes. If the majority of men do lead lives of quiet desperation, then Naruse's films are a testament to that desperation.
groom_daniel
 


Re: Mikio Naruse (SPOILERS)

Postby samdeeks » Wed Jan 07, 2004 8:43 pm

hey, great to see that someone else has posted in 2004!! Was beginning to think that I was ranting in a graveyard. :-)
samdeeks
 

Re: Mikio Naruse (SPOILERS)

Postby groom_daniel » Thu Jan 08, 2004 7:15 am

I've just finished Late Chyranthemums, another brilliant and masterful film from Naruse. This film is from the same period that he made his masterpiece, Floating Weeds, and it's exactly the type of film I'd like to make. As Alexander Jacoby points out, "the measured rhythms of his editing, and the expressive use of interior space, tend simply to illustrate the content of the script, rather than creating meaning in the manner of Mizoguchi's stylistics." Some might wonder why I wouldn't choose to film like Mizoguchi, but if you continue reading the Senses of Cinema article, (and I think everyone should read SOS), Jacoby says Naruse has a style "which consists in detail of characterisation and elegance of structure" and a "wisdom which consists in the strength of purpose and clarity of vision," and those things are a script writer's dream. Naruse is a script writer's dream. He's been a real inspiration to me, in this, my thesis year (when I'm preparing for another feature length screenplay). These are the only Naruse films that are readily available, I'm a huge fan of post-WWII Japanese cinema, and I swear it was like falling in love all over again. Naruse is great.
groom_daniel
 

Re: Mikio Naruse (SPOILERS)

Postby kcpuden1 » Thu Jan 08, 2004 11:09 am

Groom,

Floating Weeds is by Ozu. I believe you must be thinking of Floating Clouds, which is by Mikio Naruse. Sadly, at this time, I've seen neither of the mentioned films. All of Ozu's films are in the process of being released on DVD, I have been purchasing them as they become available. I believe Criterion is working on releasing Floating Weeds sometime this year. As for Naruse, no DVD's yet, to my knowledge.
kcpuden1
 

Re: Mikio Naruse (SPOILERS)

Postby groom_daniel » Thu Jan 08, 2004 5:53 pm

Yeah, I meant Floating Clouds. I don't understand why there aren't more Naruse films available, since there's been retrospectives of his work. Ozu films aren't difficult to find. Ever since the centenary, they've been showing his films on nhk in Japan, and Criterion also owns the rights to them. Floating Weeds is a great film that shows Ozu's sense of humour and good nature, with the undercurrent of another Japanese family falling apart.
groom_daniel
 


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