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Japanese Directors - Kenji Mizoguchi

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Ugetsu
Kenji Mizoguchi
Kenji Mizoguchi's poetic film is set in feudal, war-ravaged, 16th-century Japan and focuses on the opposite fortunes of two peasants who abandon their families to accumulate wealth and prestige and find emptiness and despair. The film is remarkable for its expressive photography, diagonal compositions and uninterrupted takes. With Machiko Kyo and Masayuki Mori. "Scenes of everyday life alternate with those of a dreamlike, erotic intensity. At the end it is difficult to remember where reality stops and hallucination begins" (Newsweek). Japanese with English subtitles. Newly remastered, translated and subtitled print. Presented in original aspect ratio. 2-DVD Criterion Collection Edition. Includes audio commentary by critic Tony Rayns, Kenji Mizoguchi: The Life of a Film Director feature-length documentary (Kaneto Shindo, 1975, 150 mins.), Two Worlds Intertwined featurette with director Masahiro Shinoda, interview with assistant director Tokuzo Tanaka, interview with cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa, trailers, booklet featuring original short stories on which the film is based and an essay by critic Phillip Lopate, and more. Japan, 1953, 96 mins.
DVD | $59  


Japanese Directors - Kenji Mizoguchi


Eclipse Series 13: Kenji Mizoguchi's Fallen Women
Kenji Mizoguchi
Though parsing the 30 year career of a celebrated director of over 90 films is difficult, this themed-set samples two prewar and postwar films that deal with one of Mizoguchi's major concerns: the plight of women under Japanese patriarchy. Banned in 1940, Osaka Elegy (1936, 71 mins.) is "Mizoguchi's satire of the ruthless, all-pervasive Osaka capitalism. In this film the mature Mizoguchi style emerges for the first time as he creates, entirely through visual means, a balance between the fate of the heroine Ayako and the corrupt, degenerate values of Osaka" (Joan Mellen, The Waves at Genji's Door). Set in the red-light district of Kyoto, Sisters of the Gion (1936, 69 mins.) tells of two sisters--the older trained as a geisha in the old tradition, the younger an apprentice devoted to the more progressive ideas. Women of the Night (1948, 74 mins.) deals with the lives of two Osaka sisters who are reduced to working as prostitutes during the Occupation. Mizoguchi's last film, Street of Shame (1956, 85 mins.), involves the dreams and problems of a group of prostitutes living in one gaudy Tokyo brothel, with a remarkable performance by the legendary Machiko Kyo. Eclipse from The Criterion Collection. 4-DVD set. In Japanese with English subtitles. Japan, 1936-1956, 299 mins.
DVD | $59  

Sansho the Bailiff
Kenji Mizoguchi
Set in 11th century Japan, the film focuses on a mother who sets off with her two children to find her husband, a former deputy governor, who has been in exile. The family is broken up by a priestess who sells all three to kidnappers, and after many hardships, one of the sons becomes the governor once under Sansho's brutal rule. "Mizoguchi has created a powerful work with strong humanistic overtones. Focusing on the influence the two women in the story have on the hero, the film alternates the idyllic atmosphere of some scenes with the violent cruelty of others" (Georges Sadoul). Criterion Collection edition. New, restored high-definition digital transfer. Includes video interviews with critic Tadao Sato, assistant director Tokuzo Tanaka, and legendary actress Kyoko Kagawa, audio commentary by Japanese-literature professor Jeffrey Angles, improved English subtitle translation, and a book with an essay by scholar Mark Le Fanu and two versions of the story upon which the films was based. Japanese with English subtitles. Japan, 1954, 120 mins.
DVD | $59  

Ugetsu
Kenji Mizoguchi
Kenji Mizoguchi's poetic film is set in feudal, war-ravaged, 16th-century Japan and focuses on the opposite fortunes of two peasants who abandon their families to accumulate wealth and prestige and find emptiness and despair. The film is remarkable for its expressive photography, diagonal compositions and uninterrupted takes. With Machiko Kyo and Masayuki Mori. "Scenes of everyday life alternate with those of a dreamlike, erotic intensity. At the end it is difficult to remember where reality stops and hallucination begins" (Newsweek). Japanese with English subtitles. Newly remastered, translated and subtitled print. Presented in original aspect ratio. 2-DVD Criterion Collection Edition. Includes audio commentary by critic Tony Rayns, Kenji Mizoguchi: The Life of a Film Director feature-length documentary (Kaneto Shindo, 1975, 150 mins.), Two Worlds Intertwined featurette with director Masahiro Shinoda, interview with assistant director Tokuzo Tanaka, interview with cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa, trailers, booklet featuring original short stories on which the film is based and an essay by critic Phillip Lopate, and more. Japan, 1953, 96 mins.
DVD | $59