Poll

What's your favorite film by Mikio Naruse?

Kimi to wakarete (After Our Separation)
0 (0%)
Yogoto no yume (Each Night I Dream)
0 (0%)
Three Sisters with Maiden Hearts
0 (0%)
Tsuma yo bara no yo ni (Kimiko)
0 (0%)
Hideko, the Bus Conductress
0 (0%)
Uta-andon (The Song Lantern)
0 (0%)
Ginza kesh (Ginza Cosmetics)
0 (0%)
Meshi (Repast)
1 (5.3%)
Okaasan (Mother)
1 (5.3%)
Inazuma (Lightning)
0 (0%)
Ffu (Husband and Wife)
0 (0%)
Ani imto (Older Brother, Younger Sister)
0 (0%)
Yama no oto (The Thunder of the Mountain)
1 (5.3%)
Bangiku (Late Chrysanthemums)
0 (0%)
Ukigumo (Floating Clouds)
0 (0%)
Sh u (Sudden Rain)
0 (0%)
Nagareru (Flowing)
1 (5.3%)
Iwashigumo (Summer Clouds)
0 (0%)
When a Woman Ascends the Stairs
3 (15.8%)
Daughters, Wives and a Mother
0 (0%)
Hourou-ki (A Wanderer's Notebook)
0 (0%)
Midareru (Yearning)
0 (0%)
The Stranger Within a Woman
0 (0%)
Midaregumo (Scattered Clouds)
0 (0%)
other (specify)
0 (0%)
haven't seen any
11 (57.9%)
don't like any
1 (5.3%)

Total Members Voted: 19

Author Topic: Naruse, Mikio  (Read 6165 times)

sdedalus

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Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
« Reply #30 on: January 02, 2013, 05:18:40 PM »
The crazy push-ins are a bit excessive at times, but when the climactic push-out comes, it's almost worth it.

More amazing to me was the editing: inspired match-cuts all over the place, first in the wild chase sequence that opens the film (mirrored and inverted movements) then later in the film, using objects as pivots between locations: clocks a couple of times, a cigarette on the ground to an ashtray upstairs (recalling an early cut between the two crooks - one lights a cigarette, cut to the other inhaling it) and most poignantly near the end match-intercutting between the daughter and her step-mom as they lie in bed.  Absolute mastery of film technique.

There's a lot of other interesting things going on in terms of story structure as well.  Hoping to write in detail about this one at some point.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2013, 05:20:24 PM by sdedalus »
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worm@work

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Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
« Reply #31 on: January 03, 2013, 03:58:43 AM »
More amazing to me was the editing: inspired match-cuts all over the place, first in the wild chase sequence that opens the film (mirrored and inverted movements) then later in the film, using objects as pivots between locations: clocks a couple of times, a cigarette on the ground to an ashtray upstairs (recalling an early cut between the two crooks - one lights a cigarette, cut to the other inhaling it) and most poignantly near the end match-intercutting between the daughter and her step-mom as they lie in bed.  Absolute mastery of film technique.

YES! I only really noticed the cigarette one and went back and rewatched some scenes after reading your writeup :). I should pay more attention to editing techniques. And yes, pls do a longer writeup.

sdedalus

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Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
« Reply #32 on: January 05, 2013, 01:00:09 AM »
This post on No Blood Relation got out of hand pretty quickly.
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worm@work

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Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
« Reply #33 on: January 06, 2013, 10:04:44 AM »
Apart From You | Naruse | 1933
Oh God, I loved this. Again, the plot is pretty pedestrian and predictable and yet, I found it much more interesting than say, No Blood Relations. Maybe because it won me over very early on with that crazy opening sequence devoid of any of the main characters. We are thrown into the film via a chase scene on the streets full with disorienting segues to gags and then it cuts suddenly to the inside of a geisha house where also all we see is random scenes including a gorgeous surreal dream sequence. It's only after all this that we even get introduced to one of the major characters. Crazy but so fun.

I think the two things that really stand out for me about these early silents is Naruse's use of superimpositions to bring to life the inner lives and dreams of characters and his cutting technique (which I only started to pay proper attention to because of sdedalus's great essay on the editing in No Blood Relation.

But first those lovely superimpositions. One of my favorite ones occurs really early on in the film where one of the younger geishas is fantasizing about eating a warm bowl of ramen. She cups her hands and a bowl of ramen magically appears. Even that scene ends in tragedy as she drops the aforementioned magical bowl of soup but it's a lovely moment nevertheless.


Another notable use of this is in the hospital scene where similar to the toy planes in Flunky, Work Hard, all of Terukiko's happiest moments from her trip back home with Yoshio come to life for a brief moment filling her face with this gorgeous sense of wistfulness.

At least in these early films, Naruse often seems to use objects to cut between scenes and in this film in particular, he seems to use it frequently to draw parallels between characters and situations. A bottle or a bar of chocolate connects two different scenes. And that sense of disorientation I mentioned from the opening sequence continues in the rest of the film as well and I think it has a lot to do with Naruse's editing here wherein it takes a few seconds into a scene before we know where exactly we are and how much time has passed.

A scene where this type of rapid disorienting cutting works really really remarkably well is a scene in the geisha house where we are observing the actions taking place in two different rooms at the same time. The older geisha is with her patron drinking sake in one room while Terukiko and two other younger girls are entertaining a couple of patrons in the adjacent room. There are frequent extreme closeups to a rotating turntable and a film reel spinning on a projector. As Kikue takes out a razor either to stab herself or her patron, one of the geishas in the adjacent room breaks into a Spanish style dance. Her dance movements are intercut rapidly with the struggle between Kikue and her patron in the other room which is shot mostly in close-ups of their legs and their silhouettes on a room divider and their fight often resembles dancing. It's a great scene and a great setup for the violence that is to occur in the next scene.

I also love how that showy sequence is contrasted with the much more pastoral scenes in the train and Terukiko's hometown that seem so much more Ozu-like. It's also such a welcome respite from the crowded claustrophobia of the rest of the film. Also incredible is how well Naruse handles that scene at the end giving it just the right tinge of sadness and what could've been. The plot may be predictable but the quiet tragedy of it all still broke my heart. Just that look on Sumiko Mizukubo's face
« Last Edit: March 03, 2020, 12:56:15 PM by 1SO »

sdedalus

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Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
« Reply #34 on: January 06, 2013, 11:02:29 AM »
I liked how Naruse shifted focus between the three protagonists through the story.  First, we think it'll be about the mother and her sacrifices for her son.  Then we think it'll be about the son straightening up.  But in the end, it's about the girl and her sacrifice for her younger siblings.  It's also about how much men are just terrible, from the mother's sleazy "patron" (love the knife/dance scene you point out: the intercutting asserts geisha life as a form of suicide) to Terukiko's father (love the scene where Terukiko and he fight) to Yoshio, who looks like David Schwimmer and is just worthless, or at least not worth the things the women in his life go through for him and I love how Naruse exposes that: Terukiko goes on, he's left alone, crying, on the station platform.

And Sumiko Mizukubo is really, really pretty.
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worm@work

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Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
« Reply #35 on: January 06, 2013, 11:07:38 AM »
It's also about how much men are just terrible, from the mother's sleazy "patron" (love the knife/dance scene you point out: the intercutting asserts geisha life as a form of suicide) to Terukiko's father (love the scene where Terukiko and he fight) to Yoshio, who looks like David Schwimmer and is just worthless, or at least not worth the things the women in his life go through for him and I love how Naruse exposes that: Terukiko goes on, he's left alone, crying, on the station platform.
Yeah, the men come off even worse in this film perhaps than the ones I/we have already seen? I love how cartoon-like the geisha house patrons are in the film :)

Quote
And Sumiko Mizukubo is really, really pretty.
OMG, yes. Her face is so radiant and those big eyes *swoon*
Makes the actor playing Yoshio look even worse than he would in isolation maybe :P

sdedalus

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Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
« Reply #36 on: January 06, 2013, 11:08:38 AM »
That, and he looks like David Schwimmer.
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worm@work

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Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
« Reply #37 on: January 06, 2013, 11:12:31 AM »
That, and he looks like David Schwimmer.
;D

worm@work

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Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
« Reply #38 on: January 06, 2013, 04:40:38 PM »
Street Without End | Naruse | 1934

Yet again, the opening montage features none of the main characters or plot details. It's simply a gorgeous introduction to the city and its denizens. Rapid cuts between shots of anonymous passersby meeting on the street, peeking through shop windows, looking for jobs and so on. We are then thrown into a tea shop where we finally get introduced to the anonymous patrons first and then the key characters.

Already by now, I am used to random coincidences and accidents propelling the action forward in Naruse's films. Here it's two noteworthy car accidents that do the trick. But what really got me about the film is the way this inverts the films that came before it. It's pretty much a look at what might have happened had the geisha women from the previous films actually gotten what they wanted and managed to marry a rich upperclass patron. Sugiko's life after marriage is much worse than her life as a poor waitress. This is more a critique of bourgeois upper class regardless of gender and if anything, the women actually come off worse. I also love how the hospital scene with mother and son from the previous film is repeated here but has a whole different meaning and mood this time. I also really love how Sugiko is a great extension of Terukiko. She's another female character with lots of courage and agency and this time around, she's fighting to preserve her own happiness instead. Love the ending and the Lubitsch quoting in particular <3!!
« Last Edit: March 03, 2020, 12:56:28 PM by 1SO »

worm@work

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Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
« Reply #39 on: January 07, 2013, 12:52:50 PM »
Wife! Be Like a Rose! | Naruse | 1935

Whoa! This is quite a huge leap from the silents and my favorite of the Naruse films I've seen so far. It starts off so breezy and light.. almost like a Hollywood or Bollywood rom-com from the 50s or something. The first surprise is the totally modern protagonist. Kimiko is such a departure from the other Naruse heroines I've seen with her modern attire  and her office job. Then there's  the cute banter between her and her boyfriend where they each pretend to be not as interested in the other as they really are. And Naruse devotes several moments to a straight up comedy sequence with the much-revered uncle's terrible singing upsetting it seems, even the caged birds in his home.

The film eventually kind of breaks into a city vs. country two-part structure but it's nowhere as simple as one simply being glorified over the other. In fact, on a moment by moment, scene by scene basis, the film constantly has us shifting our perceptions about these characters. In fact, even by contemporary standards, the ending feels rather radical. The film also works as a great portrait of the changes occurring in Japanese society. Despite the ending shot of Kimiko crying at her mother being left alone and her inability to reconcile her parents, to me the ending is ultimately hopeful. It symbolises Kimiko's growth and a break from the tragedies of the past.

Couple of scenes stand out in particular in a film that's pretty much perfect. One is the scene where Kimiko's step-sister overhears Kimiko talking to her mom. The sister can't hold back her tears but rather than dwell on her face, Naruse moves the camera outside the house allowing us to grapple with the hopelessness of the situation. And then there's the little tour Kimiko and her parents take in of the city. It's a gorgeous bittersweet scene. On the one hand, it shows Kimiko bonding with her father and has that lovely scene of Kimiko hailing a cab a la Clark Gable in It Happened One Night. But in 10 minutes or less, it also depicts everything that was wrong with her parents' marriage. Great film.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2020, 12:56:36 PM by 1SO »