Brakhage isn’t a household name of course but he does seem to get attention in US academic film circles. Whereas with say Len Lye and his predecessors with hand painted films, it’s “who?” (admittedly there’s Brakhage’s very prolific output to study and champion). Lots of Japanese don’t know of Mizo, but that’s a common problem with today’s world, pop culture and the interest in the latest products. At a Welsh film society i was a member of, noone had even heard of Mizoguchi when i joined, and same with another in England more recently. They insisted (in spite of my best efforts to persuade them otherwise, after the success of the Sansho screening in Wales) the locals would only want contemporary films, not older classics. Last year a local English town’s cinema which screens some “arthouse” films did show Tokyo Story but refused Sansho as it wouldn’t they believed get a big enough audience. Same old vicious circle
^^i’m always genuinely surprised at what people haven’t heard of. I know a guy that has been into film for years, and he wasn’t familiar with Bresson at all, not even by name, and he loves directors that were influenced by him like Schrader etc. Just to revisit one of your earlier points Kenji about the newfound interest in Bresson, i agree it has something to do with the minimalist/unsentimental approach to film, plus the fact his name is often mentioned in the same breath as Haneke. I know at least 5 film buffs personally that discovered Bresson through reference to Haneke.
Troll 2 my lady has more credit than anything Tarantino ever directed, there IS a difference of pleasurable trash.
Mizoguchi’s relevance will never fade for me, not after I can consider myself proud enough to own copies of Ugetsu and Sansho the Bailiff.
At this point, even though I’ve seen these two films only twice since I’ve owned them, I can’t separate their importance, to me as a person, from each other. They’re absolutely essential for anybody who’s the least bit interested in heartfelt, but not cheap, cinematic storytelling, which are wrapped in camera movement flourishes (including appropriate stillness) that are otherworldly, performances and production values that totally stand apart from anything that is being done in today’s American-junk-tray-dominated market, and with narratives that drive to the heart of what I would hope we strive to be as human-beings: compassionate, hopeful and forgiver of wrongs who look to a better day for themselves and their families.
If you grew up in a loving family environment, I don’t understand how you couldn’t cry after having viewed either of these two movies, just the emotions that you go through with each development in their narratives.
The travails of the mother in Sansho, the idea that I could hear the words “Zushio….Anju….!” or “Life is torture,” and the travails that her and her two children have to go through absolutely strike at my heart each time I think of it, and how awful it is to find yourself in that sort of situation, but to have the hope for redemption and to reunite with loved ones is absolutely as powerful today, as I write this, as I’m sure it was when the cast and crew were making the movie on the set.
How could the idea of showing mercy, of rising above those who do wrong unto others and to do the right thing for yourself and for others, VERY central to the narrative of Sansho the Bailiff, ever lose relevance?
And the story presented in Ugetsu, how easy it is for us as people to be blinded by the attraction of attaining a better situation for ourselves, at the expense of not appreciating the good fortunes and the good people who we already enjoy in our own lives, easily is just as powerful a narrative thread as the one presented in Sansho. The other-worldly element to Ugetsu, and the other-worldly performance of Michiko Kyo as Lady Wakasa, it just takes on a graceful, extraordinary resonance for me whenever I think about it.
I’m actually very much gonna watch Ugetsu here in a bit after I write this, because I’m so drawn back to the ideas presented in these movies, how they’re such powerful examples of what could be going on in our own lives (like mine here recently) and how we could possibly try to better ourselves as people.
Those two ideas are totally relevant to my life, and I’m so fortunate to have gotten to experience both of these masterpieces, that I can continue to experience them in the future.
Now I gotta find a way to get the Eclipse set of Kenji Mizoguchi’s Fallen Women.
His movies that I’m most interested in watching are:
The Life of OharuThe Story of the Last ChrysanthemumsSisters of GionStreet of ShameThe 47 RoninOsaka ElegyThe Lady of Musashino
There will definitely be more to watch in the future.
WATCH KENJI MIZOGUCHI FILMS, Y’ALL!
I’ve yet to see The Lady of Musashino but the “Fallen Woman” trilogy of Sisters of Gion, Street of Shame, and Osaka Elegy are especially brilliant and personal favorites.