Eclipse Series 15: Travels with Hiroshi Shimizu

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Yojimbo
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Re: Eclipse Series 15: Travels with Hiroshi Shimizu

#176 Post by Yojimbo » Fri Sep 25, 2009 10:28 am

Michael Kerpan wrote:Mieko Takamine is one of the least well-known big stars of Japan (at least in the West). She played lead (or key supporting) roles not only in other Shimizu films (Nobuuko), but also in ones by Shimazu (e.g., Lights of Asakusa), Ozu (Toda Family), Mizoguchi (47 Ronin), Gosho (Ima hitobino, Banka), Naruse (Maihime, Wife) and lots of ones for other major Japanese directors.
I see from IMDb that she had a hit song - "Kohan no yado" (Lakeside Hotel) in 1940.
Have you seen any of her other films?
I think she might be the most beautiful of the Japanese screen actresses I've seen
(interesting I note also that she died on the same day that I was celebrating my 34th birthday!!!) :shock:

And I must check out my French-subbed copy of Mizoguchi's '47 Ronin'

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Re: Eclipse Series 15: Travels with Hiroshi Shimizu

#177 Post by Michael Kerpan » Fri Sep 25, 2009 11:06 am

Yojimbo wrote:Have you seen any of her other films?
I think she might be the most beautiful of the Japanese screen actresses I've seen
(interesting I note also that she died on the same day that I was celebrating my 34th birthday!!!) :shock:

And I must check out my French-subbed copy of Mizoguchi's '47 Ronin'
I've seen Mieko Takamine in all the films I mentioned as examples, as well as several others. I wish I could see even more of her films -- and see some of the ones I've seen unsubbbed again -- with subs.

Some enterprising company reall needs to tackle Gosho's Banka (one of his most impressive films).
Last edited by Michael Kerpan on Mon Sep 20, 2010 8:00 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Steven H
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Re: Eclipse Series 15: Travels with Hiroshi Shimizu

#178 Post by Steven H » Thu Sep 09, 2010 6:43 pm

Just wanted to mention that Word and Image in Japanese Cinema (Washburn / Cavanaugh) went back into print April of this year and it contains probably the best article about Shimizu in English, "Saving the Children: Films by the Most 'Casual' of Directors, Shimizu Hiroshi" by Keiko McDonald as well as many other excellent essays (Aaron Gerow on pre-war cinema and Noletti on Gosho for starters). It's probably a POD paperback, but hell, *very* much worth it for fans of this set.

edit: while still in print, it *is* pricy, but you can preview a good bit of the article at amazon.com

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Saturnome
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Re: Eclipse Series 15: Travels with Hiroshi Shimizu

#179 Post by Saturnome » Mon Sep 20, 2010 12:41 am

I went through this set a few weeks ago and really loved it. My opinion is that The Masseurs and a Woman (yeah, I can see why the title translation isn't exactly right) is really the best of the bunch, that's something I haven't read here.
While Mr. Thank You is very good, I found it a bit hard to care about the main characters, being the bland people around a bunch of intriguing characters. No such thing with The Masseurs. The film is so incredibly unfocused yet fascinating, looking at various groups of characters, being drama or comedy (Something I thought worked really well, I may be alone on this), even throwing a MacGuffin, I had no idea what to expect until near the end where it start to get together. It's often quite beautiful to look at, and the long silent scene where the blind masseur feel the woman around him is superb (With characters getting out of the camera's focus! haha...).

I'd love to watch more Shimizu if I ever get the chance. And I'll revisit this set soon, Mr.Thank You may suffer from being the first one I watched. I think I couldn't get over the fact that the moustache man left the bus at some point!

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Re: Eclipse Series 15: Travels with Hiroshi Shimizu

#180 Post by ambrose » Sun Nov 07, 2010 5:57 pm

The "moustache man" in "Mr Thank You" is a fascinating character! He appears to be symptomatic of an entire strain of lower-middle class anxiety with the clearly "false" moustache being a case in point. it is both a status symbol and a source of anxiety.(the mocking attention paid by the "moga" character to his false moustache makes him self-conscious)

(side-note) the sudden presence of a virile hunter with a General Kitchener moustache and a clearly "phallic" shotgun further emasculates the sales man!

There is a lovely sequence in "Ornamental Hairpin" during which the self imposed physiotherapy regime of Chishu Ryu's character is counterpointed with the reactions of Kinuyo Tanaka;the fluctuating and confused responses of miss Tanaka's character to Ryu's exertions are rapidly expressed through her evolving facial expressions! This is truly an acting master-class from miss Tanaka and one that I am sure was not totally derived from either the script or the direction. (Hiroshi Shimizu was as reticent as Naruse!)
Last edited by ambrose on Wed Jul 13, 2011 6:13 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Eclipse Series 15: Travels with Hiroshi Shimizu

#181 Post by ambrose » Mon Nov 08, 2010 1:06 pm

In regards to the discussion on page seven of this thread as to the significance of the thefts in "The Masseurs and a Woman",while they can be perceived to function purely as a MacGuffin, they do provide a mechanism whereby our sleuthing masseur can involve himself with the eponymous woman and eventually extract from her the story of her status as a kept-woman and how she resented that status to such a degree that she sought the risky "independence" she now had!.(this is a less savage denunciation of the sex-trade then that contained in "Mr Thank you" but within the context of a much lighter film.) pierced by poetry
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Re: Eclipse Series 15: Travels with Hiroshi Shimizu

#182 Post by Michael Kerpan » Mon Nov 08, 2010 9:19 pm

I finally tracked down the source for Arigato-san, sort of hidden in plain sight. It is a tiny (three and a half page) story included in Kawabata's Palm of the Hand Stories. Obviously only the barest outline is to be found here, The polite and observant bus driver driving in from the boondocks to a provincial rail junction (35 miles each way, according to the story). The mother and the daughter (to be delivered for sale at the railroad town). And lots and lots of "thank you". All the other touching and humorous details in Shimizu's film seem to be his own inventions.

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Re: Eclipse Series 15: Travels with Hiroshi Shimizu

#183 Post by ambrose » Thu Nov 11, 2010 4:44 pm

Michael Kerpan wrote:I finally tracked down the source for Arigato-san, sort of hidden in plain sight. It is a tiny (three and a half page) story included in Kawabata's Palm of the Hand Stories. Obviously only the barest outline is to be found here, The polite and observant bus driver driving in from the boondocks to a provincial rail junction (35 miles each way, according to the story). The mother and the daughter (to be delivered for sale at the railroad town). And lots and lots of "thank you". All the other touching and humorous details in Shimizu's film seem to be his own inventions.

Palm of the Hand stories.

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Re: Eclipse Series 15: Travels with Hiroshi Shimizu

#184 Post by ambrose » Wed Jul 13, 2011 6:12 am

ambrose wrote:The "moustache man" in "Mr Thank You" is a fascinating character! He appears to be symptomatic of an entire strain of lower-middle class anxiety with the clearly "false" moustache being a case in point. It is both a status symbol and a source of anxiety(the mocking attention paid by the "moga" character to his false moustache makes him self-conscious).

(side-note) the sudden presence of a virile hunter with a General Kitchener moustache and a clearly "phallic" shotgun further emasculates the sales man!
Rather than representing lower-middle class anxiety, the "moustache man" might in fact be far more representative of cultural imperialism. The perception and reality of modern business as a western construct might have led figures like the "moustache man" to adopt a consciously western appearance. The virility associated with possessing a General Kitchener moustache confirms the presence of cultural imperialism.

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Re: Eclipse Series 15: Travels with Hiroshi Shimizu

#185 Post by leelacolorado » Wed Dec 11, 2013 12:37 am

I loved these and am looking for more Shimizu with English translations. I've managed to pick up some here and there (mainly from a good seller who can be found on eBay). But can anyone tell me if there is a translated copy out there somewhere of Eclipse, A Hero of Tokyo, and A Boss' Son? I've become a Shimizu addict now; thanks a lot, Criterion.

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Re: Eclipse Series 15: Travels with Hiroshi Shimizu

#186 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed Dec 11, 2013 1:17 pm

The only other commercial release of subbed Shimizu films was Shochiku's Volume 2 (of an obviously abandoned-due-to-poor-sales 4 volume series). This still may be findable, but it is quite expensive now: http://www.cdjapan.co.jp/detailview.html?KEY=DB-176" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; . I'm glad I got this when it was first released (and the exchange rate was better).

Most of the Shimizu I've seen has been unsubbed (DVDs, copies of old videos, etc).

Not sure what subbed stuff might be floating about in the Internet netherworld. Most of the Shimizu I've seen has been unsubbed (copies of old videos, etc).

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Re: Eclipse Series 15: Travels with Hiroshi Shimizu

#187 Post by whaleallright » Wed Jan 15, 2014 8:11 pm

Several other Shimizus (some early, some late) are "floating around"--to be less coy, they are on several of the more cinephilic torrent sites. Quite a few have been granted English subtitles thanks to the hard work of amateur translators.

A particular gem that hasn't had an official release is A Star Athlete. It might be my favorite of Shimizu's films. It's not about athletics at all, really. Like the films on this set, it has what seems like a loose and episodic narrative structure that feels quite purposeful by the melancholy ending. It also boasts those amazing shifts in tone that only the Japanese filmmakers of the 1930s seem to have mastered. I'm told that this was a propagandistic work that Shimizu was required to make, but the final product seems as idiosyncratic and deeply felt as any other Shimizu film I've seen.
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Re: Eclipse Series 15: Travels with Hiroshi Shimizu

#188 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed Jan 15, 2014 9:01 pm

Star Athlete does tend to generate a bit of controversy. Sort of like a HHH film, it really requires especially intent attention to a lot of seemingly mundane actions and comments. I suspect much of the sub-text is unknown (and close to unknowable) to watchers today (including younger Japanese viewers). I like it a whole lot -- but I wouldn't rank it as a top favorite.

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Re: Eclipse Series 15: Travels with Hiroshi Shimizu

#189 Post by mizo » Fri Jun 05, 2015 11:24 pm

I just finished Arigato-san, my first Shimizu, and I was very impressed by the effortless handling of the gradual reveal of the title character throughout the film. Mr. Thank You is initially a very enigmatic figure, glimpsed, for the first time outside his bus, pensively smoking alone while the situation of the girl being sold is explained. From then on, his eager politeness, exemplified by his trademark phrase, is contrasted with his peculiar distance and reticence to play along with the bold woman in the seat behind him who seems to be flirting with him. This paradox is slowly explained throughout the course of the film in a series of episodes, through which we come to discover that he is at once deeply sympathetic to the plight of the innocent poor and suffering (made clear by his slight overeagerness to befriend the girl being sold) and alienated from them, feeling himself apparently part of the rat race that leaves them in the dust. After all, in a time of widespread unemployment, he has a job at which he is clearly successful (or at least remarkably well-liked) and he also seems painfully aware of the direct part his own work plays in the ruining of many people, whom he transports to a future of exploitation and hardship in the city.
SpoilerShow
It is therefore ironic but also fitting that in the end, he should be convinced by the bold woman, who one might guess hails from the city or is otherwise aware of its ways, to abandon, to some extent, his monetary ambition and save the girl from prostitution. And of course, in keeping with his respectful distance, he doesn't take credit.
On the whole, the film struck me as a charmingly optimistic portrayal of the potential for benevolent interaction between social classes (and that's not even mentioning Shimizu's marvelous satire of the pretensions of the middle class in the form of the gentleman with the fake moustache).

I'm looking forward to more Shimizu, but does anyone have any recommendations as to where to turn next once I've exhausted the set?

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Re: Eclipse Series 15: Travels with Hiroshi Shimizu

#190 Post by Michael Kerpan » Tue Jun 09, 2015 11:56 am

SpoilerShow
The other young woman passenger made essentially the same trip as the younger woman a year or two earlier. What one does not learn is whether Mr. Thank You was already driving on the route when she made HER trip.
.

One of my favorite segments of Arigato-san is the driver's interaction with the young Korean migrant worker (and the depiction of the doleful plight of these people -- possibly unique in Japanese films of this era).

Unfortunately, except for the second volume of the Japanese Shimizu series (very expensive -- and maybe out of print), there are NO other subbed releases of Shimizu's films -- and tere are only a very few other unsubbed DVDs. I've seen 20 or so of his films, almost all unsubbed, and many of the unavailable films (silent, transitional and talkies) are wonderful. It is a shame that sales of the Japanese series were so poor that Shochiku canceled it after just two volumes.

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Re: Eclipse Series 15: Travels with Hiroshi Shimizu

#191 Post by mizo » Tue Jun 09, 2015 6:38 pm

Michael Kerpan wrote:One of my favorite segments of Arigato-san is the driver's interaction with the young Korean migrant worker (and the depiction of the doleful plight of these people -- possibly unique in Japanese films of this era).
Is that the woman to whom he offered a ride, but who declined, saying she preferred to walk with the others who couldn't afford to ride? If so, it was indeed a moving scene, although I must not have picked up on the fact that she was Korean. Perhaps I just missed a line.
Michael Kerpan wrote:Unfortunately, except for the second volume of the Japanese Shimizu series (very expensive -- and maybe out of print), there are NO other subbed releases of Shimizu's films -- and tere are only a very few other unsubbed DVDs. I've seen 20 or so of his films, almost all unsubbed, and many of the unavailable films (silent, transitional and talkies) are wonderful. It is a shame that sales of the Japanese series were so poor that Shochiku canceled it after just two volumes.
That's a shame, although I take it from your assessments of his unavailable films that they can be seen through unauthorized means. I imagine you don't usually check, but do you happen to know of any films that can be found with subtitles (and, if so, to PM me where)? I have very little familiarity with the sorts of places you'd have to find to watch movies like this.

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Re: Eclipse Series 15: Travels with Hiroshi Shimizu

#192 Post by Michael Kerpan » Tue Jun 09, 2015 7:57 pm

Not sure what Shimizu is available online -- most of the rarities I saw were copies of decades old Japanese videotapes (or almost as old taped TV broadcasts).

Quite honestly, I would say that any other Shimizu films you can find are going to be (more than) worth seeing. (And while you are at it, grab any Shimazu stuff you can as well). I assume any online repositories are searchable by director name -- if you can find out whats out there in the ether somewhere, drop me a line, and I can tell you which ones I like best. ;-)

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Re: Eclipse Series 15: Travels with Hiroshi Shimizu

#193 Post by mizo » Tue Jun 09, 2015 9:40 pm

Thanks. I'll let you know what I can find.

UPDATE: How about these:
Nobuko (1940)
Mikaheri no tou (1941)
Kodomo no shiki (1939)
Children in the Wind (1937)

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Re: Eclipse Series 15: Travels with Hiroshi Shimizu

#194 Post by Michael Kerpan » Tue Jun 09, 2015 11:56 pm

These are the 4 films that were included in the second Japanese set. These are all very interesting, but not quite as good as the best films in the first set. (Both Japanese sets were very classy and well-designed as well). There are a lot of basically unavailable Shimizu films I like more -- but I was delighted to have these made available nonetheless. This whole second set focused children (albeit teen-aged ones in Nobuko). Introspection Tower (Mikaeri no tou) is about a school for troubled kids (a school that makes an appearance in the amazing immediately-post-war Children of the Beehive). Children in the Wind has a plot a bit reminiscent of Railway Children. Four Seasons of Children presents four vignettes (one per season) for a group of kids and their families.

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Re: Eclipse Series 15: Travels with Hiroshi Shimizu

#195 Post by mizo » Wed Jun 10, 2015 10:35 am

I didn't realize these corresponded exactly with the second set, but I suppose that's why they were so easy to find with subs. Thanks for the rundown - now I guess I'll have to look for Children of the Beehive. :)

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Re: Eclipse Series 15: Travels with Hiroshi Shimizu

#196 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed Jun 10, 2015 10:49 am

Children of the Beehive has a scene set in the rubble of Hiroshima -- at a time when doing so was not allowed by the Occupation censors. Presumably this was such a low-budget, independent film that it escaped full scrutiny.

Almost the entire cast was "amateur" -- and the war orphans were, in fact, war orphans. Supposedly, after the film was made, Shimizu essentially adopted all the orphans that were not already otherwise provided for.

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Re: Eclipse Series 15: Travels with Hiroshi Shimizu

#197 Post by bottled spider » Sat Aug 22, 2015 5:16 pm

Shimizu seems really interested in, and good at, composition in depth: shots of someone or something approaching the camera or receding from it; shots with activity in more than one plane; shots which emphasize the depth between foreground and background.

Another distinguishing characteristic (of the little I've seen so far) is an unusual combination of silliness and poignancy. Not that combining those two poles is itself unique, but the way he does it, the way something sad or tender gently emerges out of a light, comic film.

There's scene I especially liked from The Masseurs that sort of illustrates both. Passing the blind masseur in the street, the woman he's befriended playfully decides not to reveal her presence with a greeting. But he senses her, and turns around, hesitantly groping toward her. Momentarily unnerved, she silently backs away and flees through a group of masseurs approaching in the opposite direction. The scene is almost comical, but at the same time eerie, and cinematically, it is sublime.

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