Onibaba (鬼婆)

  • 鬼婆 (Onibaba)

7/11/17 (Tues), DVD

This singular 1964 film by Shindo Kaneto about two country women scraping out a life in the turmoil of 14th-century Japan was described to me as a horror flick, but that description doesn’t seem quite right. Horror can be easily forgotten once the thrill is over. That is not the case with this movie.  Continue reading

The Deep Blue Sea (1955 film)

  • The Deep Blue Sea (1955 film)

7/8/17 (Sat), Tokyo

My second viewing of last year’s National Theatre production the previous day inspired me to seek out the old film version, which appeared just a few years after the original 1952 stage show and was scripted by Rattigan himself. (There are also several BBC television adaptations, most recently in 1994, and a bizarre film deconstruction from 2011 that I turned off after five minutes.) This first film stars Vivien Leigh, just coming off Streetcar, as well as the original stage performer Kenneth More as the lover Freddie.  Continue reading

Nothing Sacred

  • Nothing Sacred

6/29/17 (Thurs), DVD

I’m not always a fan of screwball comedies, which often seem to be trying too hard. But I loved Carole Lombard in her immediately preceding My Man Godfrey, so I thought I’d give it a shot.

A flailing newspaper reporter Wally Cook seeks to make his name with a human interest story on a small-town girl named Hazel Flagg who is dying of radium poisoning. Unbeknownst to him, Hazel has discovered that she was misdiagnosed and is not dying after all, interrupting her plans to whoop it up for her final weeks (she moans about being “brought to life twice – and each time in Warsaw”). She thus jumps at the chance when the reporter offers her an all-expense-paid trip to New York to help her enjoy her short remaining life – that is, he wants to exploit her to sell papers, and she wants to exploit him to see the big city. Her initial enthusiasm for the city fades quickly when she finds herself the object of pious pity everywhere she turns, including from Wally himself. As the double double-cross proceeds, he makes the mistake of falling for her. Hazel tries to sneak away and fake a suicide, after which she hopes to vanish, but is caught at the last minute by Wally – and she starts to fall too. An examination by eminent European doctors finds her fit as a fiddle, but by this time too many people are invested in the story to risk exposure. So they come up with a ruse…  Continue reading