Friday, September 14, 2007

September 14th Log

1930, Yasujiro Ozu, Japan
1st Viewing, DVD

Today marked my first viewing of this 1930 Ozu silent film. To date, I have now seen all but three of his surviving 33 feature films. Walk Cheerfully is uncharacteristically Ozu in it’s highly stylized, fast paced, and genre blending approach. Ozu shares the writing credit with Japanese filmmaker Shimizu Hiroshi, whom Ozu greatly admired and admitted gave him the idea for the story. Walk Cheerfully is a mix of genres (crime, drama, comedy, romance) while recalling obvious inspirations and references to Hollywood silent films. Stylistically, much is unique from Ozu’s definitive work, yet there are still visual motifs and patterns that are evident. However, here the compositions are far more stylish then most of Ozu’s work (even in comparison to his silent films). The film takes on multiple plot layers, but the focus is on Kenji, a petty thief who decides to go straight after he falls for a sweet woman (Yasue). Kenji’s girlfriend (in full femme fatale / Louis Brooks mode) tries to lure him back into the life of crime, only to turn on him and hand him over to the police. Kenji “walks cheerfully” knowing that Yasue, her mother, and her sister will be waiting for him to return. Walk Cheerfully is not essential Ozu, but it is an entertaining and kindhearted film. One that is made in unexpected style and pace- including a skillful execution in camera movement and nourish devices that make it unique from almost anything else Ozu made before or after.

>>> More on Record of Walk Cheerfully @ A2P Cinema's Yasujiro Ozu website HERE

>>> A clip from Walk Cheerfully:

2002, Todd Haynes, United States
Repeat Viewing, DVD

Continuing my month repeat viewing of Todd Haynes films… Todd Haynes 2002 film, Far From Heaven, is bold and involving. There is no question about the influences here: the 1950s Technicolor melodramas by Douglas Sirk (most notably All That Heaven Allows). Aside from capturing the look, emotions, sounds, feelings, and period details of the era, Haynes is essentially making the film has if it were the 1950s. What results is a work that that is not only deeply respectful of it's inspirations, but also gives more complex examination and in many ways is perhaps more authentic and more important, and more powerful. Todd Haynes has made a 1950s film without holding back the restrictions those films did at the time. Julianne Moore's performance is amazing. It's as if Moore (and the viewer) lose themselves in the character. Everything we see becomes and feels real. The supporting cast is equally wonderful, lead by the always reliable Dennis Quaid and Patricia Clarkson. This is a film of human feelings and behavior. It is a love story of two lost souls who relationship is doomed by a society and behavior of ignorance and hatred. The films greatest strength lies in the beautiful photography. The colorsare so refreshing and it's as if they help tell the story without feeling staged. From the opening crane shot through the fall leaves, Far From Heaven is a flawless film of visual imagery. Every detail is finely designs from colors, locations, sets, and costumes. But above all this is a film of masterful compositions, which (like the themes of the film) hold endless layers and depth beneath the surface. There is such richness and patterned texture within every frame of the composition,which captured the expression of the film (often without the need of dialogue). This is filmmaking at it's most visually complex and artistic. The emotional style may seem a bit to melodramatic and dated to some viewers. However, those that appreciate the glorious cinematography, fine detailed sets and costumes, haunting score, and flawless directing and acting, will see it for what it is: A completely respectful, authentic and sometimes painful look at what life was really like back in "the good old days" that in so many ways really weren't all that great! Bottom line: a masterpiece film that will hit on all visual and emotion levels.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home