After the assault on the public's eyes, ears, and brains that November rained down in the form of Running With Scissors, Marie Antoinnette, Babel, Borat, and Deja Vu, I'm glad today is the 30th. Texas' new chilly weather should freeze the disease that that lot left behind. (Did you notice how steamy and muggy it was?? And everyone I know got sick!!)
But last night, a knight - by name of Ugetsu - swept me away!
Like Snow White, I have fresh breath again.
This simple Japanese film cleansed the palate, because it brought everything back to base fundamentals. Ugetsu is a moral tale about two couples struggling in 16th century war torn Japan. The women are the wiser, for they know that in desperate times the most important thing is to keep the unit together. But the men are distracted by their lofty male ambitions - one wants to be a Samauri, the other is obsessed with his pottery business.
I used the word simple to describe Ugetsu, but that's not fair to say of a film that relies so heavily on it's visuals. Director Kenji Mizoguchi liked long takes and preferred to use as few cuts as possible. In one scene, a seductress moves from a character's right, to his left, and then pushes back without the camera cutting. This gives the dialogue she's using tremendous emotional heft because it moves with her in one swoop. (kind of like the one shot "staircase scene" in The Magnificent Ambersons, where as the tension in converstion rises, so too does the actors position on the staircase)
Speaking of "actors positions",Mizoguchi was always aware of the space & setting his characters lived in. Everything in the frame matters. Like the work of Jean Renoir or Robert Altman, you can gain a lot of clues/exposition/symbolism from objects and/or characters in various parts of the screen. You have to be an active viewer. In fact, sometimes the second viewing is the better. It's kind of like when you hear that one song for the 3rd time and then it hits you and becomes a fave! You feel like you and the song worked together to achieve the pleasure.
Well....since it is November 30th, that means it's "month close" here at work.
So, I gotta go!
But first......but first.....but first!!!!.....I am gonna go buy a big fat juicy......