It is currently Tue Apr 24, 2018 2:22 am

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 121 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4, 5  Next
Author Message
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2008 5:10 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:20 pm
Location: New England
cdnchris wrote:
I wasn't expecting pristine and had an idea as to what to expect, but I was, admittedly, thrown off by how blurry and fuzzy the image was for three of the films. (Street of Shame looks fine on the other hand.) I think that's the aspect of it that disappointed me the most.

I've got bad news for you. These films look great compared to the (seemingly) only available version of Tale of Late Chrysanthemums.


Top
 Profile  
 

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2008 6:48 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sat Mar 17, 2007 2:49 am
Location: Bowling Green, Ohio
I didn't think Story of Late Chrysanthemums looked that bad, but then again, I also think those caps for Sisters of the Gion and Osaka Elegy are amazingly beautiful. Which version of Story of Late Chrysanthemums did you watch, Michael? Was it the new French DVD?


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2008 8:08 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:20 pm
Location: New England
sidehacker wrote:
I didn't think Story of Late Chrysanthemums looked that bad, but then again, I also think those caps for Sisters of the Gion and Osaka Elegy are amazingly beautiful. Which version of Story of Late Chrysanthemums did you watch, Michael? Was it the new French DVD?

I've seen many different versions of ToLC (including a theatrical print) -- and all have been pretty "soft". However, I haven't seen the French DVD yet.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 14, 2008 1:26 am 

Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:12 pm
Quote:
I've seen many different versions of ToLC (including a theatrical print) -- and all have been pretty "soft". However, I haven't seen the French DVD yet.

That's due to the materials. The negative doesn't exist, and everything else is taken from second-generation prints, so there's no way the film will ever look much better than it does. That goes for Utamaro as well. I often wish that Criterion/Janus/Eclipse would explain some of this in the liner notes on the back to pre-empt the usual complaints about image quality. In many cases, we're lucky that even one dupe print of a prewar Japanese film survived.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 14, 2008 8:38 am 
User avatar

Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:20 pm
Location: New England
ptmd wrote:
That's due to the materials. The negative doesn't exist, and everything else is taken from second-generation prints, so there's no way the film will ever look much better than it does. That goes for Utamaro as well. I often wish that Criterion/Janus/Eclipse would explain some of this in the liner notes on the back to pre-empt the usual complaints about image quality. In many cases, we're lucky that even one dupe print of a prewar Japanese film survived.

Yes, people don't seem to realize how lucky we are to have even lousy prints of many pre-war and war era (and 40s postwar films) Japanese films. For instance, Ozu's Tokyo Inn is in dire condition at a number of points -- but I am just grateful it still exists. Catherine Russell, in her new book on Naruse, says that OVER 99% of Japanese silent films are "lost".


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 14, 2008 2:28 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2005 11:46 am
I wonder if there are any definitive figures that exist if you change the delineator from "silent" to simply "pre-war" Japanese cinema. And how this percentage measures up to the vibrant pre-war Shanghai cinema... i e which country managed to preserve more of their prewar film heritage (notwithstanding the fact of the two nations essentially leading the war off themselves.. or more precisely Japan leadng the war off by attacking China).

I ask about the pre-war indicator, rather than silent, since the Japanese (and Chinese) cinemas were such latecomers to full sound changeovers, running well nigh to the mid-30's with silent features... and the war-- for them-- began (going along with historians via not counting the invasion of Manchuria) in 1937, when the full scale general invasion was executed.

So using 1937 as a marker, I wonder how the statistics change..


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 14, 2008 2:53 pm 

Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:12 pm
I don't have any concrete statistics on this, but, in general, Japanese films have historically been better preserved than Chinese ones since World War II. On the other hand, more Japanese films were destroyed between 1941-45, largely due to Allied bombing. Also worth noting is the fact that Japan didn't want to eliminate film production in China; they wanted to take it over, so the facilities were better protected (and weren't bombed).

Overall, the situation with many Japanese sound films made between, say, 1935 and 1948 isn't that much better than for silent films made in the early 1930s (a situation which is itself much better than the one for silent films made before 1929, of which only a small handful survive in any form). Even more frustratingly, an overwhelming percentage of films made before 1923 were destroyed in the Great Kanto Earthquake, and many of the ones that survived that were destroyed during the war.

To bring this back to Mizoguchi, one of the greatest losses to film history is the total destruction of the two features he made between Story of the Late Chrysanthemums and Genroku Chushingura, when Mizoguchi was in his absolute prime as a stylist. Late Chrysanthemums was actually the start of a trilogy of films about performers, but we'll never know how exactly that developed since the films are gone. That's true for countless other films in both Japan and China. Honestly, we should all be extremely grateful for releases like this and Silent Ozu, because having these films available with subtitles in this form is *very* unusual.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 14, 2008 7:37 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2004 6:02 pm
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Having seen the caps on dvd beaver & here, this remains my most anticipated release of the year. With less than a week to go, I practically need to wear diapers. (I've never seen any of these four films.)


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2008 12:21 am 

Joined: Mon Nov 15, 2004 2:47 pm
Location: U.S.
Max von Mayerling wrote:
Having seen the caps on dvd beaver & here, this remains my most anticipated release of the year. With less than a week to go, I practically need to wear diapers. (I've never seen any of these four films.)

Yeah, superlatives are in order for these films.

Naniwa Elegy: extraordinary, contains one of the most haunting final moments in film. Pieces of it bring to mind (at least subconsciously) segments of both Taki no Shiraito (a.k.a. "The Water Magician") and Osen's Origami-Cranes (both of which are available on those Digital Meme discs, and shouldn't be underestimated... in IMDb-speak, they're 9.0 out of 10).

Sisters of the Gion: Excellent, although maybe less engaging and 'robust' than the other prostitution sagas. My tune could change on this one as time goes on.

Women of the Night: My same thoughts on Sisters of the Gion might apply for this film too, — except the last 15 minutes are among the most exhilarating in all of Mizoguchi's oeuvre, and all of movies. An apotheosis of Mizoguchi, an apotheosis of mise-en-scène. Pure expressionist psychosis. As good as cinema gets.

Red Line District (aka "Street of Shame"): One of the greatest of films. Comparable in play and feel to such Ford films as The Long Voyage Home, Wagon Master, The Sun Shines Bright, Mogambo. The beginning and untimely end of a completely new 'phase' for Mizoguchi.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 17, 2008 3:30 am 
User avatar

Joined: Wed Feb 27, 2008 10:48 am
Location: Athens, Greece
I just got the set and I have to say that I am very pleased. As ptmd says, we should be grateful that we have these films in any form.

And to tell the truth, the transfers are not bad. You should think of it like this. If you liked MOC's transfer of Humanity and Paper Balloons you will be happy with this release. If you liked the transfers of the films in the Silent Ozu set you will be more than happy with this release.

Finally, I compared the Eclipse Street of Shame with the MOC release in my regular 30 inch TV and I didn't notice any differences. (I am talking about the transfer and the sound, not the subtitles). I know that the MOC disc is dual layer whereas the Eclipse is single layer but I can't find any noticeable differences between the two releases.

So, as I already said, I am very pleased with the set. Of course I would have been even more pleased if in the place of Street of Shame they had included another film from the 30s or 40s. But I am not complaining since to tell you the truth before the announcement of this set I was afraid that all of the films in the first Mizoguchi set would be films that are already available from MOC. So the fact that 3 out of 4 are films that were not available with eng subs anywhere else makes me more than happy.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 23, 2008 8:36 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 10:34 pm
I was very surprised how good Osaka Elegy looked, considering how poor films of that vintage can look, and the criticisms of the material. The film is in nowhere near as bad shape as the Ozu silents.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 26, 2008 2:21 am 

Joined: Thu Jul 24, 2008 6:16 pm
Location: Arlington, VA
After patiently waiting a few years, I finally watched Sisters of the Gion. Vintage Mizoguchi, to be sure, featuring most of his notable trademarks--the long tracking shot; his manifest sympathy toward women and their ongoing plight with duplicitous, self-serving men; and the ever-present Japanese touchstone--the culture struggle of tradition versus modernity.

Was it worth the wait? Maybe. But I wouldn't categorize Sisters as among Mizoguchi's best works, as it falls far short of Ugetsu, Sansho the Baliff, A Geisha, and The Life of Oharu, as well as, perhaps, a few others. Richie claims it is Japan's best pre-war sound film, and that certainly carries some meaningful weight, and who am I to say differently. Nevertheless, the film exhibits many of the shortcomings of 1930s filmmaking, namely a rushed, clipped style of storytelling and a simplistic plot that comes to an abrupt end as if the film's budget had breached its limit. Moreover, it clocks in at just 69 minutes, which is barely long enough to tell the story, even at its seldom-pausing, jack-rabbit pace.

At any time I could have rented and watched a videotape of Sisters, but I held off hoping for a DVD release. Thank you Criterion! I held off because some time ago I rented Osaka Elegy, and the videotape viewing experience of that film was nothing short of wretched. So even though the Sisters tape was just an arm's reach away, it stayed on the shelf. The same goes for The Story of the Last Chrysanthemums. The video outlet that carries these titles and much, much more is a fantastic local asset, and I may soon haul my rear end back there again, despite the drive, to rent a couple Imamura's docs that may not see DVD releases for several years, if at all.

By the way, poking around YouTube, I discovered that someone in Switzerland has uploaded, it appears, the entirety of Sisters of the Gion, in eight segments, lacking the beginning credits, and probably the ending credits, too, but for which I didn't check for. Sheeesh! Can there be a more blatant infringement of intellectual property copyright? I can't imagine Sisters being in the public domain, but please correct me if I'm wrong.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 26, 2008 7:35 am 
User avatar

Joined: Fri May 19, 2006 10:09 am
What A Disgrace wrote:
I was very surprised how good Osaka Elegy looked, considering how poor films of that vintage can look, and the criticisms of the material. The film is in nowhere near as bad shape as the Ozu silents.

I got my set yesterday, and while I didn't have time to watch any of the films, I did a very quick comparison of the Eclipse "Osaka Elegy" with that custom-subbed bootleg that I mentioned earlier (don't ask me where exactly it comes from or who did it, as I received it from someone else some time ago). Surprisingly, that bootleg seems either to come from a different print or has had some cleaning up, because it seems to have far less scratches and general wear than the Eclipse version, although it also looks somewhat brighter (probably slightly boosted). Hmmm.... greyscale seems to be more correct on the Eclipse, then, and sharpness (or blurryness, as you like) is on a par, but as far as damage is concerned, the Eclipse is not as good as this film could look.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2008 9:47 am 
User avatar

Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:20 pm
Location: New England
The film of Sisters of Gion is, in fact, probably a public domain work. Japan has not adopted the equivalent of "keep all Disney films in copyright status forever". However, a rip of a copyrighted DVD version (as opposed to an original telecine of a public domain print) might well probably be a copyright violation.

I watched the Eclipse DVD last night. While this film has many wonderful moments, it also verges into silliness and improbability a bit too often. Some great cinematography -- but overall not even close to the best 30s work of Naruse, Ozu, Shimizu, Yamanaka and Shimazu (maybe even Gosho and Uchida).


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2008 10:45 am 
User avatar

Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2005 11:46 am
Michael Kerpan wrote:
The film of Sisters of Gion is, in fact, probably a public domain work. (...)
I watched the Eclipse DVD last night. While this film has many wonderful moments, it also verges into silliness and improbability a bit too often. Some great cinematography -- but overall not even close to the best 30s work of Naruse, Ozu, Shimizu, Yamanaka and Shimazu (maybe even Gosho and Uchida).

So I take it you disagree with Donald Richie's quote about Sisters Of..
Quote:
"the best Japanese prewar sound film,"
which seems quite a bit of an overstatement... thinking simply of Yamanaka's surviving masterpieces brings out the dubiousness of the claim-- so taste-based as to be virtually worthless in terms of a public, 'scholarly' claim to be taken seriously in academia.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2008 11:13 am 
User avatar

Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:20 pm
Location: New England
Possibly Richie's pre-war film category refers only to those pre-dating July 1937 (when the second Sino-Japanese War began). that narrows the scop-e of talkies quite a bit.

Some people are very attuned to Mizoguchi's perspective. I am not one of them. I find it easier to appreciate Mizoguchi's work than to love it (though there are some films by him that I do love). If one is a true Mizoguchi-an, Sisters of Gion might well look like the best pre-war Japanese talkie.

Even so, I think Naruse covers similar territory far better in his Apart From You and Every Night Dreams (granted these are silents) and his almost-as-good Three sisters With Maiden Hearts (which IS a talkie). Shimizu's Forget Love for Now (from 1937) may or may not be a "pre-war" film, but is also one that deals with similar subject matter that I find preferable.

If one looks at the wider world of films (and not just ones focused on women in trouble), I prefer Ozu's Only Son, all the Yamanaka ones, a few more Shimizu ones (Arigato-san and Children in the Wind), Shimazu's Yae-chan and Portrait of Shunkin, and Gosho's Women in the Mist. Probably a few more that I'm not recalling.

Mind you -- I think both Osaka Elegy and Sisters of Gion are very worth seeing, but I probably prefer Mizoguchi's own Aien kyo / Straits of Love and Hate (released a month or so before the war started). The heroine there is a more interesting, more productively feisty one (even if Fumiko Yanaji wasn't quite as remarkable an actress as Isuzu Yamada overall).

P.S. I NEVER credit anyone's proclamations of "bests" -- no matter how muchI respect his or her overall acumen. I only really believe in the concept of "favorites" -- as there are so many extraordinary Japanese pre-war films of roughly equivalent value.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2008 12:00 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2005 11:46 am
Michael Kerpan wrote:
P.S. I NEVER credit anyone's proclamations of "bests" -- no matter how muchI respect his or her overall acumen. I only really believe in the concept of "favorites" -- as there are so many extraordinary Japanese pre-war films of roughly equivalent value.

Agreed, and understood before my post, which was a bit tongue in cheek of course. I'm not even sure when Richie made the statement (CC quotes it in their marketing for the film in it's box-blurb I believe) and how far along he was in his experience of viewing Japanese features from before the war.

But any "best" list is problematic as scholarship of course. Any cineaste worth his salt should view such lists as mere "pointers", guideposts along the road of exploration at least, and at most a "getting to know you" excercise vis a vis the critic (hell, even forum-poster) to his reader. They're taste boueys in a sea of titles, particularly for a new cineaste looking to branch out into new territory.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2008 1:51 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sat Apr 02, 2005 7:18 pm
Dave Kehr.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Mizoguchi's First Muses
PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2008 2:25 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:20 pm
Location: New England
Dave K describes Isuzu Yamada as Mizoguchi's "first muse". I suspect this isn't the case -- though much of the work with earlier (possible) muses is lost. The one definite prior "muse" whose work DOES survive to some extent is Takako Irie (most importantly in Water Magician). Other earlier muses would seem to have included Yoko Umemura (she kept working with Mizoguchi over a long period of time), Yoshiko Okada (prior to her banning from cinema for several years in the late 20s), Shizue Natsukawa and maybe even the young Kumeko Urabe (who later became one oif the most invaluable character actresses of Japan).


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 2008 7:53 am 
User avatar

Joined: Fri May 19, 2006 10:09 am
I've watched "Sisters of the Gion" now, and while I certainly agree that it is not "the best Japanese pre-war film", there's a lot to admire in it. The main problem of the film has been pointed out already: it feels somewhat rushed at only 69 mins, with the machinations of the minor characters sometimes being hard to understand. But still, the film is a visual treat and would perhaps form a good example for Schreck's Mise en Scene thread. Mizoguchi almost constantly manages to create an almost abstract, musical beauty in the way he sets up space, constructs vanishing points and lighting and derives meaning from it. In this respect, I find the film even more impressive than "Osaka Elegy" (though we find this of course already in "Water Magician" and "Osen"). Also there are some fine details: it almost comes as a shock when we finally see the 'outside world' of modern Japan in the car ride near the end, a perfect way of reminding the viewer that the Geisha world we have seen so far is actually completely at odds with modern reality (which of course is the point that Mizo tries to hammer in). But there's a problem with how this message is conveyed at the beginning and the end by Yamada's speeches, which are curiously didactic, almost as if this was a Kurosawa movie. But all in all, while "Sisters" has some minor weaknesses, I found it a hugely impressive film. And that print looked fine to me, too.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2008 10:20 am 
User avatar

Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 5:57 am
AisleSeat wrote:
Nevertheless, the film exhibits many of the shortcomings of 1930s filmmaking, namely a rushed, clipped style of storytelling and a simplistic plot that comes to an abrupt end as if the film's budget had breached its limit.


I saw this as a beautifully realized use of ellipses. This was my first pre-war Mizoguchi film and his first film that lived up to the Mizo hype. It was poetic and pitch perfect with stunning camera moves and transitions, and the most wickedly bleak I've ever seen him. Much less convenional than his 50s contemporary melodrmas.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Mon Dec 08, 2008 11:01 pm 

Joined: Wed Jun 25, 2008 9:31 am
Location: San Diego
I just watched Women of the Night...is this a complete print? Near the beginning when the baby gets sick, the brother-in-law gets on his bicycle to go get the doctor, but then the film suddenly cuts to a completely different scene where the sisters are reunited. There's some dialogue at that point explaining that Tanaka's character moved out of her in-laws' home after both her husband and her child died, and while we've already seen them getting the news of her husband's death and the onset of the child's illness, the jump in time is so abrupt (and right in the middle of the previous scene) that I immediately suspected missing footage. The jump I'm referring to also coincides with a noticeable uptick in the quality of the print, so is the first part maybe just pieced together from whatever elements were available?


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Tue Dec 09, 2008 12:07 am 
User avatar

Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:20 pm
Location: New England
I think this is complete -- Mizoguchi sometimes does some startling elisions here (and elsewhere).


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Tue Dec 09, 2008 12:51 am 

Joined: Wed Jun 25, 2008 9:31 am
Location: San Diego
Hmm...well, that one was REALLY startling. Why not fade out, since some time passes between that scene and the next, or some other less confusing transition? The way it is doesn't make any sense, and it really sticks out. There isn't anything else like it in this film. Not that I'm calling out Mizoguchi for being a hack, but that was a major "WTF?" moment.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Tue Dec 09, 2008 12:59 am 
User avatar

Joined: Fri Jul 04, 2008 10:06 am
Location: Ireland
evillights wrote:
Max von Mayerling wrote:
Having seen the caps on dvd beaver & here, this remains my most anticipated release of the year. With less than a week to go, I practically need to wear diapers. (I've never seen any of these four films.)

Yeah, superlatives are in order for these films.

Naniwa Elegy: extraordinary, contains one of the most haunting final moments in film. Pieces of it bring to mind (at least subconsciously) segments of both Taki no Shiraito (a.k.a. "The Water Magician") and Osen's Origami-Cranes (both of which are available on those Digital Meme discs, and shouldn't be underestimated... in IMDb-speak, they're 9.0 out of 10).

Sisters of the Gion: Excellent, although maybe less engaging and 'robust' than the other prostitution sagas. My tune could change on this one as time goes on.

Women of the Night: My same thoughts on Sisters of the Gion might apply for this film too, — except the last 15 minutes are among the most exhilarating in all of Mizoguchi's oeuvre, and all of movies. An apotheosis of Mizoguchi, an apotheosis of mise-en-scène. Pure expressionist psychosis. As good as cinema gets.

Red Line District (aka "Street of Shame"): One of the greatest of films. Comparable in play and feel to such Ford films as The Long Voyage Home, Wagon Master, The Sun Shines Bright, Mogambo. The beginning and untimely end of a completely new 'phase' for Mizoguchi.

can't wait to watch 'Street Of Shame', then, given your comparisons with three of my favourite Fords


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 121 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4, 5  Next

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum

Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group




This site is not affiliated with The Criterion Collection