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PostPosted: Wed Aug 12, 2009 8:53 pm 
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Ah, I ketch. Much obleeged.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2009 2:16 pm 
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Rewatched Japanese Girls and watched Mr. Thank you.
Have to JGatH was much more rewarding the second time. I won't call it great yet, but it has many great pieces and is worth every watch.
Mr. Thank You on the other hand is basically perfect. I can't think of the last film so genuine and human that I saw, probably Flowers of St. Francis. The humor makes what easily could have been a boring melodrama into wondrous delight. Some how Shimizu makes characters that could have been obnoxious pricks into lovely three dimensional characters with little endearing traits. Also I must admit to getting a little foggy eyed during the conversation with the Korean girl. What a monumental moment. This film alone is worth the set.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 5:57 pm 
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Have just watched "The Masseurs and a Woman", and the amazement goes on. This time around, though, it was less a deep emotional involvement (although there certainly isn't a lack of it) but even more admiration for Shimizu's camerawork which almost takes on an abstract quality with this film. Perhaps it's just meant to reproduce the viewpoints of the blind masseurs, but there are occasional shots where the camera seems to move through the inns in what seemed to me an almost completely random way. Also, I liked that scene in one of the inns' yards where the camera is completely static and characters move towards and away from it (and more importantly, in and out of focus) in a way that bordered on the surreal. Again, wonderful use of empty space between characters, too, and a general humanistic outlook that seems to be a trademark of Shimizu. The humour is broader here than in "Mr. Thank You", almost slapstick-like in places (especially in some scenes involving the students), but again completely seamlessly integrated into the narrative. Despite all this, the film has a stronger meditative quality than the two earlier films; I can understand the comparison with Ozu here, and not just because of the camera often being positioned rather low in this film. But still, for me this is far more immediately accessible than most Ozu films I know. In a word: another Shimizu I immediately loved.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 7:53 pm 
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I think the title here really must be "The Masseur and the Woman". No reason for the plural in the title -- as the film pays little attention to the second masseur (and he has next to no connection with the mysterious lady).

Of the four films in this set, this was the one that made the weakest initial impression -- but like most Shimizu films it has kept growing on me.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 9:32 pm 
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Watched that on Saturday, and while I still prefer Mr. Thank You I think it is great. I think Shimizu managed to stretch a traditional narrative to its breaking point before becoming surreal. The entire time I was reminded of Last Year for example. I also found interesting his child like view of the world. Not naive or anything like that, but in how the bonds, especially the strongest, even when verging never reach a sexual or romantic point. People seem to just care for people. That's probably what I love most about this set. Hopefully the streak continues on the final one.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 12:03 pm 
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knives wrote:
The entire time I was reminded of Last Year for example.


"Marienbad"? Or another film? If "Marienbad", I don't quite get this association. In the Resnais film, the characters act like puppets or like being in some sort of other-worldly condition, which makes the film sometimes very difficult to appreciate for me on more than an intellectual level; in the Shimizu film, despite its visual experimentation and close-to-surreal moments, the characters are all wonderfully believable and human. Like in the two earlier films, "Masseur(s)" has genuinely touching stories going on with the characters below the surface, whereas "Marienbad" often feels like an exercise in formal stylisation (though it's a very successful exercise, of course).


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 12:41 pm 
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I'm not entirely sure where the comparison comes from, I just couldn't get the Resnais from my mind. I also have to disagree on the lack of emotional investment on Last Year, but that is a discussion for a different day. I think I was just found similarities in the fractured structure and 'hero' trying to save the 'heroine' from 'utter disaster'.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 12:49 pm 
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In re: Anma to onna

Asking a question which calls for a spoiler answer....

Who do _you_ think was the thief stealing belongings of guests?


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 12:56 pm 
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Is it important to know. It was left unknown because it ultimately carries no weight on the film. Just a McGuffin to the seed of suspicsion. It could have very well been the woman. Maybe even one of the blind men. It doesn't matter and I bet you'll like it even more, somehow, if you just don't think about it.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 1:08 pm 
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knives wrote:
Is it important to know..

Probably not --- but surely I am not the only viewer of the film who wondered.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 2:04 pm 
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I always thought it was the mischievous little boy. Personally, I think it isn't at all significant.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 2:12 pm 
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sidehacker wrote:
I always thought it was the mischievous little boy. Personally, I think it isn't at all significant.

I'm leaning towards
[Reveal] Spoiler:
the "uncle" (played by Shin Saburi) who brought the kid along -- this might be significant in that the Woman was clearly starting to get attracted to him


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 2:44 pm 
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I thought so too and all signs point that way, but we'll never know.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 3:00 pm 
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And finally, "Ornamental Hairpin". As already discussed in this thread, the cover blurp is singularly misleading or refers to the source text which might be quite different from the film. The fact that I did not identify the main character as a soldier is rather minor; but the cover blurp made me expect a film that more or less focusses on a love story. While this story is there, for me the film is much more about the creation of a community to which everyone, even the initially unlikeable professor, is invited and eventually finds his or her place in. How much this may be related to the film being made in a time of war (and thus whether there might be some additional propagandistic value to such a stance) is nothing I can answer, and probably it's an irrelevant question anyhow. The film, like the other three, has a very human quality at its heart, and perhaps this is the most Ozu-like of the quartet.

I share the criticisms voiced here already about the Ryu character and/or performance, which I too find slightly overdone. Also, it's perhaps the most conventional of the films in the set on a purely visual basis. I wouldn't rate it quite so high as the other films in the set, then, but still it's a very satisfying film to which I will gladly return rather sooner than later. And I definitely want more Shimizu. C'mon MoC.

PS: I too have no idea who stole the money in "Masseur(s)". But I never even asked myself the question when I watched it....


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 3:09 pm 
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Ornamental Hairpin has always been one of MY Shimizu favorites. I agree it is more about the formation of a peaceful little community for a brief moment -- in a world filled with trouble. I believe the source story predated the war era, however.

The films in Shochiku's second set aren't quite at the level (on average) as the one's in the first set (re-issued as part of the Eclipse series). Perhaps Shochiku was afraid of doing a set of all (or mostly) non-talkies?


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 4:07 pm 
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Michael Kerpan wrote:
The films in Shochiku's second set aren't quite at the level (on average) as the one's in the first set (re-issued as part of the Eclipse series).

I'd agree with this sentiment, but I'm sure Michael would agree that they're still a fantastic set of films. And Four Seasons of Children might be the best Shimizu I've seen. If you loved the Eclipse set, the second Shochiku box is definitely worth a purchase. I suspect it will eventually turn into "the second Eclipse box", but who knows how long that might take?


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 4:18 pm 
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zedz wrote:
Michael Kerpan wrote:
The films in Shochiku's second set aren't quite at the level (on average) as the one's in the first set (re-issued as part of the Eclipse series).

I'd agree with this sentiment, but I'm sure Michael would agree that they're still a fantastic set of films. And Four Seasons of Children might be the best Shimizu I've seen. If you loved the Eclipse set, the second Shochiku box is definitely worth a purchase. I suspect it will eventually turn into "the second Eclipse box", but who knows how long that might take?

I wouldn't want to be without any of these -- and yet there are at least a dozen other Shimizu films I would rather have had than Introspection Tower (for example).

I have a new appreciation for Nobuko, having just seen Shiro Toyoda's Young People (which was made around the same time as Shimizu's film). They have very similar settings (residential girl's high schools) and the same basic set-up (an intense relationship between a student and a teacher), but Shimizu's film outshines Toyoda's soldid but rather conventional film in every respect.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 5:11 am 

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I also agree that Introspection is definitely a lesser work, but for the rest I've found the second box quite good so far. (Still have to watch Children of Four Seasons)

Where was it you saw more Shimizu films, Michael? Was there a retrospective somewhere? If so, could you tell me which films they played and your opinion of them?


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 8:18 am 
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Lots of Shimizu's films were released during the VHS era (no subs, of course) and a couple of post-war films have been released on DVD (n subs). Most of the other films I've seen (beyond the 2 box sets) came from these sources -- but I have also seen a few things whose provenance is utterly mysterious. Alas, the Harvard Film Archive turned down all the retrospectives that featured Shimizu's work (and the MFA didn't pick them up either) -- so I have yet to see a Shimizu film actually screened.

I wonder if I already did a mini-survey of Shimizu films somewhere on this site. When I get enough time, I'll look. If not, I'll try to write something up (eventually).


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 13, 2009 8:25 pm 
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HerrSchreck wrote:
While the subject is open, what does "neh" mean? I hear it quite a bit seeming to signify something like the affirmative form of "eh?", or "huh?", or "right?"... like, as in, if my eyesight were failing me-- "I'm posting in the Shimizu thread on the Critforum, neh?"


Just to add to what was already mentioned. I think the problem with explaining "ne" is that it is used so much more frequently than any translated equivalent. So in a sense, while it can mean "isn't it?", "aren't I/you?", etc., it's frequently much softer or less explicit than that. In fact, it can simply express uncertainty, along the lines of "I suppose that…". It can also be used to express agreement with someone else, and is sometimes an entire statement in and of itself, much like you might use the phrase "isn't it?" by itself. "The weather is nice today" "Isn't it?"

I'm guessing most uses of "ne" are simply dropped in translation as they express a common desire to be unassertive or uncertain that simply can't be translated into the equivalent English expression without making the character seem pointedly unassertive. It sort of inhabits the grey area between linguistic characteristics and cultural ones, a grey area that comes up a lot when learning Japanese from English.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 24, 2009 5:40 pm 
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I recently watched "Ornamental Hairpin" and loved it. To me it had the depth of feeling found in Renoir's "A Day in the Country", that sense of yearning. And it had the same effect on me: I wanted to watch it again immediately.
I'd certainly like to see more Shimizu released.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 24, 2009 6:59 pm 
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tojoed wrote:
I recently watched "Ornamental Hairpin" and loved it. To me it had the depth of feeling found in Renoir's "A Day in the Country", that sense of yearning. And it had the same effect on me: I wanted to watch it again immediately.
I'd certainly like to see more Shimizu released.
Glad to see some more love for Ornamental Hairpin. It was definitely love at first sight for me, too.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2009 5:46 am 
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I'm working my way through this set slowly because I don't want to run out of Shimizu films.

I'll have to get Volume 2 of the Shochiku release (if there is one). Could you say, Michael or anyone, who is the best e-tailer to buy from?


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2009 8:24 am 
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Michael Kerpan wrote:
tojoed wrote:
I recently watched "Ornamental Hairpin" and loved it. To me it had the depth of feeling found in Renoir's "A Day in the Country", that sense of yearning. And it had the same effect on me: I wanted to watch it again immediately.
I'd certainly like to see more Shimizu released.
Glad to see some more love for Ornamental Hairpin. It was definitely love at first sight for me, too.

Another 'thumbs up' from moi; and it was funny seeing Chishu Ryu playing a young man for a change
Its probably my favourite of them, although I can't be certain as there was a big gap from the time I watched the first two films in the set.

btw, Michael, do you know anything about the eponymous stunner from "The Masseurs and a Woman"?


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2009 10:22 am 
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Yojimbo wrote:
Another 'thumbs up' from moi; and it was funny seeing Chishu Ryu playing a young man for a change
Its probably my favourite of them, although I can't be certain as there was a big gap from the time I watched the first two films in the set./quote]I think Arigato-san has a lock on the top spot of my Shimizu talkie list (Seven Seas at the top of my silents list) -- but Hairpin is right near the top.

As to Chishu Ryu playing his own age -- he shows up in a number of very early Ozu films (for instance, watch for him and an equally young Daisuke Kato as cub reporters at the end of Woman of Tokyo).
Yojimbo wrote:
btw, Michael, do you know anything about the eponymous stunner from "The Masseurs and a Woman"?
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.


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