Thursday, June 30, 2005


Subject: Cinema
So I kicked off my long holiday weekend with one of the movies that I got in my big DeepDiscountDVD order: Criterion's release of "Kwaidan". Again, I was having trouble making the transistion from anime back to art-film, so I figured a Japanese art film (with a little sushi & sake) would do the trick.

It's billed as a set of "otherworldly tales of the macabre", which really isn't my standard fare, but I've heard good things about the techniques it used despite it being filmed way back in 1965. Criterion usually has awesome-looking DVD transfers, so I figured it would be worth a cold-buy.

I can't really say that it has the same sort of "scary" impact it may have had back then. Heck, it's hardly even "disturbing" or "creepy", despite it being various stories about ghosts, demons, and whatnot. And towards the end, with the last of the 4 segments, I really had a hard time paying attention anymore. It was long, and I probably should have taken it in shorter doses.

That said, the technique I was talking about is that everything was shot on a soundstage. All the outdoor, in-the-woods, in-the-snow, on-the-water sequences were entirely rigged on elaborate sets with a lot of meticulous detail. I mean, sure, it was obvious that everything was on a set; from the lighting to the phony snow, to the splendid and sometimes surreal painted backdrops. But that gave it sort of a feeling of being a big, grand, epic play. A huge Andrew Lloyd Webber production, but without the lame Andrew Lloyd Webber trappings.

And did I mention that the backdrops were fantastic? Oh, right.

Anyway, back to the "play" aspect; even the performances were rather evocative of stage acting more than the usual movie fare. So overall the context was rather complete in that matter. And I found that it worked pretty well in that regard. I'm not really one who goes to "the theatre" for such things, but I don't really have anything against it. Well, except the Andrew Lloyd Webber part. *Ahem*

So not being all that well versed in Japanese legends and mythology (which is also an advantage for me with "Twelve Kingdoms"), it was all still "new to me", so that aspect held my interest for a bit. But, like I said, by the last sequence, I grew a bit weary of it, and pretty much had enough.

All-in-all, it's a fine addition to my collection, but I think if I rented it first, I wouldn't have bothered buying it. I'm hoping that a rewatch or two down the road will help me see a few more interesting things about it, but overall, it's rather dated and not something to get particularly obsessive about.

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