Monday, April 27, 2009

John Maybury's "The Edge of Love" (2008)

The Edge of Love, what a beautiful title! It's not only love as a concept that binds couples, but all kinds of Love and Bonds that are formed between people. Every relationship is intense, and many admit to an unstoppable force, not necessarily sexual, connecting people...

Characters in this movie are driven by some superhuman force, their actions never explained by psychology, which makes the drama even more universal, more life-full, and more tragic. One can also claim that the movie always has a mind that evades drama.

The dialogues are some of most clever I heard in years, somehow resembling those of Howard Hawks, Joseph Mankiewicz, and their likes. What is clearly different is Maybury's own, personal sense of composition, aware camera movements, and his intense editing, leading to an emotion of tragedy as the rhythm progresses.

I remember really liking Love Is the Devil (another film about a "possessed" artist) when I saw it years ago, and parts of The Jacket I saw on television a few years back. Maybury needs to be taken very seriously.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Kenji Mizoguchi's "Gion bayashi" (1953)

English titles: A Geisha, Gion Festival Music

Tag Gallagher on Kenji Mizoguchi's use of space:
"Virtually every relationship in Mizoguchi is humiliating, hierarchal, enslaving, with space expressing the power of one person, the nullity of another: endless bowing and kowtowing and scraping across floors in self-abasement. And despite all these shots of people walking in rooms and passageways, we get no sense from Mizoguchi of what it is like to be in these houses, because these are sets, designs, formed of rectangles, cubes, lines and blocks, and their space is fictive, part of the nightmare of power. The grace of the architecture, the clear lines of buildings, the comforting sensation of a storybook Zen order radiated by structures, all are geometric forces of imprisonment and oppression, (...)"

You can read the full article, called Mizoguchi and freedom, here.

Kenji Mizoguchi's "Ugetsu Monogatari" (1953)

English titles: Tales of Ugetsu, Tales of a Pale and Mysterious Moon After the Rain, Tales of Moonlight and Rain

An ode to everything about Nature and Light. Here's a song from Ugetsu:

This world is a temporary abode,
Where we weep until the dawn comes,
Pitched by the waves...

Incredible pain described, shown. At the very limits. But also incredibly dark humour: A husband, trying to be a samurai, forgets to protect his wife who gets raped.

Ugetsu is romantic to the core and attached to the emotions felt, but also distant and wise.

Another song from Ugetsu:
The finest silk,
Of choicest hue,
May change and fade away,
As would my life,
Beloved one...

"Such is the way of the world", someone says. How is it exactly? is the question Mizoguchi's films are asking. But "the fog is thick", you have to "be careful", because the unknown surrounds you.

Near the very end: "Fruit of experience is beauty, but only a master craftsman can create such beauty." Art is a dance to call the immaterial spirits...