Tuesday, March 27, 2007

March 27th Log

1945, David Lean, United Kingdom

Repeat Viewing, DVD

I love this film beyond description!! British filmmaker David Lean is a master of adapting books and plays into cinematic masterpiece. His 1946 film, Brief Encounter is no exception. It's a breathtakingly poetic meditation of longing, guilt, chance, and love. Brief Encounter is a film that is simple and conventional, but yet rare and inventive. Through metaphoric visual motifs (the passing trains, the local onlookers) and shadowy lighting, Brief Encounter emerges as an expressionistic film of poetry. This is truly effortless in every aspect of filmmaking. The technical direction, the incredible acting, the profound voice narration and dialogue, the glorious black and white cinematography, and the sweeping musical score are all without flaw. It's a film that dares the viewer to dream, through it's powerful nonlinear structure, romantic longing, and visual and emotional atmosphere. It's an incredibly moving film of touching and heartbreaking romance, and emotional involvement. There are so many emotional levels on which this film can be observed through the character of Laura. Laura is presented through a lyrical vision of detail by Lean. The entire film is through her state-of-mind. She is completely self-absorbed and longing for something more in her life. When chance (or perhaps fate) enter (through a piece of coal steam from a passing train), Laura finds romance that is inevitability doomed. Through Lean’s stunning photography, his use of shadows and lighting, and subtle camera techniques, Brief Encounter expresses a doomed love affair between two lost souls that find themselves trapped within the conformity of a society. While the ending leaves hope ("Thank you for coming back to me"), the ambiguous tone remains, and the film leaves reflective thoughts that perhaps Laura’s yearning is for fantasy, and the tragedy is that she desired this fantasy amongst the reality of the real world. This is simply one of the most moving films I've ever experienced. Brief Encounter is both unforgiving and sad, but yet is lovely at the same time. To me there is something almost peaceful and maybe even spiritual about this film in the way it feels so full of loneliness, yearning, sadness, and beauty all at once. On a narrative and stylistic level, the film is a masterpiece. On a poetic, dreamlike, and emotional level, Brief Encounter stands as one of my all-time favorite films. So perfect in every way!!

2002, Yoji Yamada, Japan

Repeat Viewing, DVD

With a career that spans 45 years (and counting) Yoji Yamada is one of the most respected and beloved living Japanese filmmakers today. After beginning as a co-writer for Nomura Yoshitaro’s atmospheric 1961 film Zero Focus, Yamada directed his first feature film Strangers Upstairs. He has since directed over 60 features, and has another film currently in production. His next film will be the final part of his ‘Samurai Trilogy’, which began with the internationally acclaimed Twilight Samurai (in 2002), and was followed up with Hidden Blade in 2004. It is with these recent Samurai films that Yamada has gained attention with Western audiences. However, in Japan Yamada Is well known for his Tora-san series, which spanned 26 years and included 48 films. The Tora-san series is one of the worlds longest film series of all-time and it remains beloved in Japan. The longevity of the success was a major financial support for Shochiko Company and gave Yamada more creative freedom. With this freedom, Yamada would occasionally make his own more personal films outside of the series. This is where you can find his greatest work. A master storyteller who’s films are heart-warming, beautiful, and deeply affectionate. Yamada’s films blend melodrama, romance, and longing with such a sense of simplistic, creative, and sensitive methods to make his films so emotionally involving and timeless. While not his finest work, Twilight Samurai is very representative of Yamada’s work. He keeps the violence of this samurai film minimal and gives the stylistic feel of the film a simplistic touch. Little camera movements, long wide shots are used to give this film a sense of romance instead of violence. The camera simply lets the performance of veteran actor Hiroyuki Sanada take over. The subtle style make this film more complex with repeat viewings and Yamada finely crafts the final duel sequence by using Akira Kurosawa as his influence.


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