Nosterafu (1922) directed by F.M. Muranau is a silent masterpiece. The more silent films I see the more impressed I am with the directors for using inventive ways of story telling through editing and using special effects. This is certainly the case with this haunting film which employ speed-ed up filming, color filters, close ups, transposed images, and several other impressive effects to give us the story of a vampire ravishing a village. Furthermore, the score also aids in creating the drama and sense of dread among the villagers who have come face to face with terror and death. The personage of Nosfertau himself is haunting as is the scene pictured above where he rises form his coffin aboard the ship is chill inducing. Apparently Muranau died at he age of 40, it would have been interesting to see where he would have gone with his film making with sound had he survived, it is clear that he mastered the silent format with this remarkable film.
Good Meals Shop is a new cafe-restaurnat located inbetween Shibuya and Ebisu that specializes in craft beer and small batch gins. There are seven beers on tap and arefrigerator ful of crraft beers in the cafe onthe second floor. There are more than 20 small batch gins from America and Europe tha tare avialiable for sample. It also features some homemade products like jerky. Iti s run by Tokyo Family Restaurant.
I was compelled to read Giuseppe Di Lampedusa's elegant novel, The Leopard (1959), after seeing Lucino Visconti's excellent film version of the novel. It was exposed in the extras that Visconti followed the novel very faithfully, but omitted some chapters for the film version. It is a novel that herald's the end of an of feudalism at the birth of a new Italy when Garibaldi and his forces land in Sicily and establish the new united Italy under the tricolor. The main protagonist the Prince of Salina Don Fabrizio is last of a fading generation that is giving way to more modern types like his beloved nephew Tancredi, whose union with the beautiful Angelica, who is not of the royal class, shows the future of Italy. It is a grand, epic, poetic novel about a turning point in history in modern Europe.
It's October and I came across an interesting list of vampire films, so I decided to start with the first, Carl Theodore Dreyer's Vampyr (1932). He has long been a favorite of cinemaphiles, including Paul Schrader. I was very impressed with the Dreyer's mastery of camera angles, effects, editing and inventive images throughout the film. He made precious few films, however, many of them are considered classics. The film has a tension and is distinctive in that it is a talkie,but he uses several inter titles to give information about vampires throughout the film. Al in all, it is a very impressive film, Dreyer is a true master director. I look forward to seeing his greatest film Joan of Are.
BFI: Deadwood (2012) by Jason Jacobs is an excellent overview of the late great HBO series. Jacobs as done significant research into the themes and stories of the show and manages to enhance the series in retrospect. He looks closely at the historical antecedents, the series show runner and creator David Milch, and the body of work itself-while drawing on the cultural traditions of in society through references to cultural critics and artists throughout. Jacobs focuses on both the elevated language and the coarse language and what it achieves within the series as well as the stories themselves. I was fascinated to learn that Milch had studied with eh New Critics like Robert Penn Warren, which explains the literary influence on the series. The book is divided into nine chapters: 1. Arriving in Deadwood, 2. History, 3. Al and Seth, 4. The Primordial Camp, 5. Alma and Trixie, 6. God and Gold, 7. Cy and Joanie, 8. Communication and Civilization, 9. Wu, Cocksuckers. It is a an excellent analysis of an entertaining and thought provoking TV series.
I went out for teppanyaki a few weeks back and forgot to post about this great restaurant, Ahill in the back streets of Azabu (there's a Ginza branch as well), not far from my apartment. It had a great stylish atmosphere and excellent grilled food. I went with the A menu that included a starter, soup, a main (I choose sirloin steak), grilled curry rice, and a dessert for just ¥5000. I think I need to go to teppanyaki more often.
Warm Water Under A Red Bridge (2001) is one of Shohei Imamura's last films, it was made when he was 75. His later phase of film making is much quirkier than the films he made in his prime. This film reunites Imamura with Koji Yakusho and Misa Shimizu from his previous success and Palm D'Or winner The Eel. Thematically it is a continuation of themes Imamura has pursued throughout his career with a focus on the animal and primal aspects of humanity, which always includes sexuality. He is critical of the artificial structures of society that limit humanity. Yousuke (Yakusho) is a salaryman who has been restructured with a wife and son living in another town that are never seen. His philosopher homeless friend send him on a search for a treasure in a house near a red bridge on the Noto peninsula in Ishikawa (also the setting for Hirokazu Kore-eda's stunning debut Marobosi) sets him a on a spiritual journey of sorts. The metaphorical laden condition of the woman, Saeko (Shimizu), that lives there with her senile grandmother is a bit obvious-when she gets full of water she needs to release through sexual intercourse-which Imamura presents as a natural and life giving process. Yousuke is obsessed by the woman and decides to stay, taking the earth connecting profession of fisherman and deals with an eccentric cast of characters as he takes possession of a more natural life and leaves his old one behind as his wife divorces him long distance. There are some suspect dream sequences and special effects that add a sense of the contrived, thus is it fantastical on several levels which distract the viewer from the central message. This film can also be seen as minor Imamura, a Imamura who is past his prime, but still has some interesting things to say about humanity.
Endless Desire (1958) is the third of four films directed by Shohei Imamura in 1958 and another studio assignment from Nikkatsu. It was based on an original script by Natto Wada who would go onto have several collaborations with, and eventually marry, director Kon Ichikawa. Despite the fact that this film was not written by Imamura it reflects several of his pet themes that will be explored later in other films. In this story five venal, greedy and desperate people converge in a small town from Tokyo to retrieve a cache of buried morphine that was stolen from war supplies, which they plan to sell for profit. These desperate people who, postwar survivalists, include a “fake teacher” Ryoji’s (Shoichi Ozawa) open-mouthed food chewing resembling that of a cow chewing on his cud, the seasoned and cynical Onuma, played by Taiji Tonoyama, and the femme fatale Shima Hashimoto (Misako Watanabe) who holds her own against the male members for malevolence while brandishing a gun. They need to dig a tunnel under a butcher shop to obtain the hidden morphine. There is a subplot involving a love affair between the nephew of the real-estate agent, from which they rent a house to do their digging, and the daughter of the butcher whose shop is above the treasure. The film also has elements of noir as the gang members are eliminated one by one due to their overwhelming greed. These themes will be further explored later in Imaura's breakthrough film Pigs and Battleships (1961) about corruption and crime surrounding an American military base. It is an interesting and entertiang step in the development of an auteur, but essentially a minor film in the director's filmography.