Humanity and Paper Balloons (人情紙風船)

人情紙風船 (Humanity and Paper Balloons)

4/26/14 (Sat)

A much acclaimed film from 1937. It’s the last of only three surviving works from director Yamanaka Sadao, who was evidently drafted into the army the day the film was released and died soon thereafter in Manchuria. I was interested in it mainly because it draws from the Kabuki play Shinza the Barber, which I saw earlier this month. (That was in turn based on the Bunraku play 恋娘昔八丈 that I saw late last year.) It had a string of Nakamuras and Ichikawas in the cast, which sounded suspiciously Kabuki-like, and it turns out that they were disaffected young Kabuki actors who had formed their own left-wing troupe, the Zenshinza, to pursue a more naturalistic acting style. I had assumed the movie would be a standard period piece, but that turned out to be not quite the case. Continue reading

Gravity

Gravity

2/2/14 (Sun), Tokyo

A much-talked about film, already out for several weeks here, being hyped as a potential Oscar winner. I usually don’t take much notice of these disaster flicks, having been burned once too often. But I was interested in how they would build a film around spacewalking, where character interaction is obviously going to be limited, and I like Sandra Bullock.  Continue reading