Friday, June 22, 2007

June 22nd Log

2001, Guillermo del Toro, Spain / Mexico

1st Viewing, DVD

"What is a ghost? A tragedy doomed to repeat itself time and again?" So begins The Devil's Backbone, a haunting ghost story set among the horrific backdrop of the Spanish Civil War. After disappointing his fans with his big-budget Hollywood debut Mimic, Mexican cult-filmmaker Guillermo del Toro returned to his roots with this personal and highly expressive multi-genre film. The most obvious blend of genre or the core of the film lies in the roots of an old-fashioned gothic horror story set within a war film. The centerpiece of these two is the haunting image of a bomb that lies unexploded on the grounds of the orphanage. This image stands as a reminder of the presence of both the war (which they can not escape) and of the death of boy (which stands as the guilt they can not escape). Essentially they are find themselves as flawed ghosts in some way and they must find a way to come together in the face of horror. When the film reaches its climax del Toro details that the war is not over because of the aftermath it has left, yet a small hope lies in the final image of the boys walking together toward an unknown future. Del Toro has made a beautifully memorable film which blends genres and feelings of shock, terror, dark humor, and compassion.

1961, Yasujiro Ozu, Japan

Repeat Viewing, DVD

"Is this it? Is this really it?" The End of Summer rates among Ozu's most emotionally complex, challenging, and ultimately darkest films. As common with Ozu, this is a family study. Here he's examining three separate generations of a family and the relationships within them. The family is presented in such a richly textured examination and the films is able to capture the authentic feeling of "ordinary" living. There are no heroes or villains, only human beings and as is the case with Ozu the separation and miscommunication of the family results from the inevitable changed caused by a death or marriage. Here the primary focus of the family is the decline of the traditional way of life. The film blends hope and sadness to a point that seem as one, culminating in a cameo performance by Ozu-regular Chishu Ryu who reminds us of the "cycle of life" as he watches smoke pour out from a chimney. The End of Summer so closely observes humor and sadness. Simplistic, yet a deeply thought-provoking film that (like all Ozu's films) require repeat viewings to fully absorb the emotional and visual depth.

>>> More on Record of The End of Summer @ A2P Cinema's Yasujiro Ozu website HERE

>>> Here is a clip from The End of Summer:


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