Poll

What's your favorite film by Kenji Mizoguchi?

Osaka Elegy
0 (0%)
Sisters of the Gion
0 (0%)
The Straits of Love and Hate
0 (0%)
The Story of the Late Chrysanthemums
3 (9.4%)
The 47 Ronin
0 (0%)
Utamaro and his Five Women
0 (0%)
The Love of Sumako the Actress
0 (0%)
Women of the Night
0 (0%)
My Love Has Been Burning
1 (3.1%)
Portrait of Madame Yuki
0 (0%)
Miss Oyu
0 (0%)
The Lady of Musashino
0 (0%)
The Life of Oharu
0 (0%)
Ugetsu
7 (21.9%)
A Geisha
0 (0%)
Sansho the Bailiff
12 (37.5%)
The Woman in the Rumor (The Crucified Woman)
1 (3.1%)
The Crucified Lovers
0 (0%)
Princess Yang Kwei-fei
0 (0%)
Tales of the Taira Clan
0 (0%)
Street of Shame
0 (0%)
haven't seen any
8 (25%)
don't like any
0 (0%)
other
0 (0%)

Total Members Voted: 30

Author Topic: Mizoguchi, Kenji  (Read 3141 times)

Totoro

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Re: Mizoguchi Kenji - Director's Best
« Reply #10 on: February 13, 2011, 02:14:30 PM »
1. Sansho the Bailiff - A+
2. Ugetsu - A-

lol

sdedalus

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Re: Mizoguchi Kenji - Director's Best
« Reply #11 on: February 13, 2011, 02:19:36 PM »
I'm curious who the one person who didn't vote Ugetsu, Sansho or Haven't Seen Any is.
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Verite

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Re: Mizoguchi Kenji - Director's Best
« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2011, 03:22:40 PM »
I'm curious who the one person who didn't vote Ugetsu, Sansho

*Raises hand*

I voted for Chrysanthemums.  It's excellent, and I find its aesthetic more interesting than Ugetsu and Sansho.  There isn't much of what Bordwell praises about Mizoguchi's staging (specifically the bodies being in the mid ground or further back in long shots; the use of apertures; and the more complex blocking) in Ugetsu and Sansho.  It's there in Chrysanthemums in spades.  Great story, too.
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sdedalus

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Re: Mizoguchi Kenji - Director's Best
« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2011, 03:30:38 PM »
I love it too, it's my #3.  I just think it's weird that everyone else chose one of only three options.
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Re: Mizoguchi Kenji - Director's Best
« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2011, 03:48:50 PM »
I'm not knocking anyone but it's merely an observation from what films get written about here: most opt for the Criterion line over the Eclipse.  But probably it's more due to Ugetsu and Sansho being Mizoguchi's most mentioned titles.  And outside of the giant Kurosawa, most Asian films that get written about are from the 80s and beyond.  

Which reminds me....anyone that liked or loved Another Year should absolutely watch Tokyo Story.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2011, 08:56:30 PM by Ver Schmer »
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sdedalus

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Re: Mizoguchi Kenji - Director's Best
« Reply #15 on: February 13, 2011, 05:49:55 PM »
And anyone that likes Tokyo Story should see Make Way for Tomorrow.
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Sam the Cinema Snob

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Re: Mizoguchi Kenji - Director's Best
« Reply #16 on: January 20, 2013, 10:46:22 PM »
Sansho the Bailiff (1954)

I went in expecting a samurai movie for some reason. Sometimes going blind into a film comes back to bite me. Instead, it's a dark, depressing story about a couple of kids who are sold into slavery. The film doesn't come into its own until it jumps into the children's adulthood and we see how the years of slavery have changed them. The catalyst for the final arc is haunting and beautiful, and the film peaks at that point. Everything afterwards is simply a formality. So on both ends, the film flounders to gain any really footing, the middle is great, but everything else is passable at best.

worm@work

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Re: Mizoguchi Kenji - Director's Best
« Reply #17 on: February 03, 2013, 04:57:46 PM »

Utamaro and his Five Women | Mizoguchi | 1947

Gosh, this film is amazing. So gorgeous for one thing and right off the bat too with that utterly beautiful opening tracking shot with the cherry blossoms and the parasols. And it continues along that vein and is pretty much just scene of scene of stunning long takes that are just exquisitely composed. And just something about the way the indoor scenes are lit (when Utamaro is painting these women) just adds such a sense of melancholy / solemnity to them.

But there's also so much else going on here. It's such an unusual film in some ways. Firstly, Utamaro himself is such an enigmatic character and we mostly just learn about him from the people surrounding him - the women that serve as his muse and how he stands in contrast to his student/assistant Seinosuke. The film pretty much lacks a protagonist and given the almost complete avoidance of close-ups, there isn't really a character we can easily identify with or root for. And yet, every one of the five women is distinct. There's so much here about the relationship between an artist and their art, the relationship an artist and the women that inspire him, art as a romantic pursuit or a replacement for the same and art as a compulsive uncontrollable urge to create.

1SO

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Mizoguchi Kenji
« Reply #18 on: February 27, 2013, 04:37:25 PM »
1. Sansho the Bailiff
2. The Life of Oharu
3. The Story of the Late Chrysanthemums

4. Ugetsu
5. Street of Shame
6. The Crucified Lovers
7. The 47 Ronin
8. Sisters of the Gion
9. Utamaro and his Five Women
10. Taira Clan Saga
« Last Edit: July 07, 2018, 11:38:54 PM by 1SO »
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1SO

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Re: Mizoguchi Kenji - Director's Best
« Reply #19 on: March 14, 2013, 10:32:43 PM »
The 47 Ronin
* *

There are moments in Mizoguchi's surprisingly inert 4-hour presentation of this classic Japanese tale that remind you you're watching the work of a master. Not just a great director, but one who can produce moments you will always remember. When sdedalus wrote about Kurosawa's The Lower Depths he said...

Quote
"He pulls off a trick I've only ever seen done as successfully in films by Hou Hsiao-hsien, where a shot of a few figures talking will be held for quite awhile before you realize exactly how many characters there are on-screen: the shock of recognition after looking at a shot for three minutes and realizing there's actually a character sitting in the bottom left corner is fun..."

I recall a similar moment in DePalma's Dressed to Kill when we learn a little late that the killer has been on screen for a long time, right in the center of the frame, watching their next victim. Like sdedalus says, it's a great trick, almost impossible to pull off and emotionally very effective if used correctly.

In this film it occurs after the leader of 50 masterless samurai requests the others to follow his play no matter what. In the room they agree out of loyalty, but when the leader steps outside he finds one of his men committing suicide, believing the honorable move is also the wrong one. He cradles the dying man and reveals his true intent. Only after that body collapses dead did I notice another person in the background has also killed himself. In the frame, dying alone the entire time.

The samurai become Ronin after their Lord inexplicably tries to kill a court official named Kira. In his failure, he is forced to commit ritual suicide and his land is taken. Kira never has to answer to anything. I don't know why he would, but apparently it's a major insult that Kira never has to answer for why he was attacked. The Lord is simply painted as a crazy killer, though his entire staff knows him to be a wise and honorable guy. They all love him.

For all the discussion that goes on, the ronin don't know why their Lord committed this attack. They must decide whether to defend the honor of their former master without any explanation. Another masterful choice, this one of storytelling instead of camerawork. Part I ends on a key decision that sets the final decision into motion. Part II opens by rewinding the clock a bit and explaining how that decision ended up happening. (Another moment of brilliance.)

A thing that I loved, though admittedly it's a cheap shortcut is that everyone talks about Kira, who is very arrogant and pretty well despised. After the initial attack where he's mostly in shadow, we don't see him again for a really long time. Then when he reappears, this is the guy...


He looks like something out of a horror film. This is matched with a walk of arrogance that's exactly like The Leo strut. He's on camera for less than a minute, but every frame just seeps of creepy, ugly evil. It's visual profiling, but very effective profiling, matching every bad vibe we hear about him.

As I said at the top, the film is very talky. Similar in many ways to Lincoln, it's about word not deed. I have to say I'm very disappointed that we never see the big attack scene. It's told to us via a message. Much more like a play than a kinetic samurai film, I understand Mizoguchi taking this approach and focusing on the codes of honor, but I think he could have thrown in some of the fighting without taking away from his main thrust. I plan on watching a couple of different versions of this tale, and while I like some of the core elements, this can't be the best adaptation. Even for a master like Mizoguchi, it's too static.
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