Poll

What's your favorite film by Kaneto Shindō?

Gembaku no ko (Children of Hiroshima)
0 (0%)
Naked Island
1 (6.3%)
Onibaba
4 (25%)
Yabu no naka no kuroneko (Black Cat)
1 (6.3%)
Tree Without Leaves
0 (0%)
haven't seen any
10 (62.5%)
don't like any
0 (0%)
other (specify)
0 (0%)

Total Members Voted: 16

Author Topic: Shindō Kaneto  (Read 1362 times)

1SO

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Re: Shindō Kaneto
« Reply #10 on: August 19, 2019, 01:51:02 PM »

Onibaba (1964)
"I'm not a demon! I'm a human being!"

Built on a fairly simple plot involving a mother/daughter team who scrape an existence by murdering samurai for their armor and possessions. A friend of the mom watched the daughters fiancee die and now boldly lusts after the daughter. The characters behave at the most base levels of humanity. Their hunger for food is matched by their ravenous sexual appetites, and the story is bold, shocking and filled with layers of meaning. This would make an excellent companion piece with Woman in the Dunes. There's just as much to discuss about the people, the landscape which consists of cramped dwellings and tall grass which surrounds a deep hole where men meet their end. (Obvious sexual symbolism, but packed with resonance.) There is also a demon.

I hesitate to mention the demon since it doesn't appear till the last half-hour, but that's really what puts this film over the top. The entire thing just gets better and better as it goes and by this point all of the great dynamics just explode. Even here, I thought I knew where things were headed only to be surprised by twists better than what I expected.

For a film from 1964, the subject matter is surprisingly adult. There's a lot of nudity, so much so that it it goes well past any titillation into more cavalier terrain. Even the way they sleep, spread on their backs with their robes half open defiantly paints their status and class as people who care little for modesty. In one scene the ladies find a small dog and viciously attack it like a couple of grizzly bears. They don't say a word or think twice about it, hunger has made them animals.

I love the photography of this film. Lots of high contrast black and white and some beautiful slow-motion imagery of grass in the breeze that would make Tarkovsky jealous. How rare to find a film with one consistent vision that balances the beauty of Malick with the grit of something like Drive. Onibaba is an incredible drama of sexual politics gone horribly wrong. I strongly urge people to check it out. It's not as difficult to get into as I might have made it sound. I'm just trying to preserve the surprises.
★ ★ ★ ★
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1SO

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Re: Shindō Kaneto - Director's Best
« Reply #11 on: August 19, 2019, 11:20:08 PM »
The Iron Crown (1972)
★ ★ ½
Not the Shindō I was looking for, but the one I could find. This may be my lowest ranked film, but it still has a lot to savor. A simple tale of a jealous wife who enlists some witchcraft to annoy her cheating husband while he's with his mistress. Filmed in the style of Noh theater, which I've seen in small scenes in other films, but never to the extent it's used here. Locations become sets, supporting characters wear ghostly, white makeup or demon masks on their faces. (Similar to the one in Onibaba.) There's a rhythm of repetition of events, as if the husband has trapped himself in a hell of frustration. A loud sound mix aims to put you on edge and annoy you.

I'm going to be very happy when Shindō gets a box set.
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Sandy

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Re: Shindō Kaneto
« Reply #12 on: August 19, 2019, 11:30:32 PM »
Onibaba (1964)

What did I just read?! :))

I don't know whether to run to this movie, or to run far far away!

1SO

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Re: Shindō Kaneto
« Reply #13 on: August 20, 2019, 12:01:01 AM »
The Criterion Collection has Onibaba and you don't have to plunge directly into it. I would recommend the director's sister film Kuroneko, also on Criterion. It's more... fun(?) and a good Shocktober selection. If you want to approach with a little more caution, Criterion has the other great 1964 Japanese ghost story, Kwaidan. Though, if I was making a recommendation to the kind of mental challenge you like, it would be the referenced Woman in the Dunes, also 1964 and also on Criterion.
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Sandy

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Re: Shindō Kaneto
« Reply #14 on: August 20, 2019, 12:14:55 AM »
I've seen part of Women in the Dunes, but it was poor quality, so stopped watching. I'll find a way to get to it. I'm interested in these Japanese Shocktober choices! Thank you for telling me about them.

Antares

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Re: Shindō Kaneto
« Reply #15 on: August 22, 2019, 07:45:23 PM »
Onibaba (1964)

What did I just read?! :))

I don't know whether to run to this movie, or to run far far away!
The Criterion Collection has Onibaba and you don't have to plunge directly into it. I would recommend the director's sister film Kuroneko, also on Criterion. It's more... fun(?) and a good Shocktober selection. If you want to approach with a little more caution, Criterion has the other great 1964 Japanese ghost story, Kwaidan. Though, if I was making a recommendation to the kind of mental challenge you like, it would be the referenced Woman in the Dunes, also 1964 and also on Criterion.

Sandy, don't start with Kuroneko, Onibaba is Shindo's best film. In fact, it's one of the best Japanese films of their golden era, I HIGHLY recommend it.
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MartinTeller

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Re: Shindō Kaneto
« Reply #16 on: August 22, 2019, 10:06:02 PM »
Well, Naked Island is his best film....
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1SO

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Re: Shindō Kaneto
« Reply #17 on: August 22, 2019, 10:30:33 PM »
...but Onibaba is a much better Shocktober selection.
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Sandy

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Re: Shindō Kaneto
« Reply #18 on: August 23, 2019, 05:44:42 PM »
 :D

I might need The Naked Island to offset the horror!

Added all three to my watchlist. Thanks for the recommendations, guys!

Antares

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Re: Shindō Kaneto
« Reply #19 on: August 28, 2019, 12:30:04 PM »
Well, Naked Island is his best film....

I bought it blind a few years back, a regretful decision. I found it tedious. There are those that love it, I can't understand why.
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