Saturday, August 26, 2006

Formal plus serene

Subject: Cinema
A couple of more films surfaced from deep within my GreenCine queue this time around...

"Floating Weeds" joined my list when I was in my "Critereon-is-releasing-it-should-I-buy-it?" phase. An interesting film by Yasujiro Ozu, in fact, a remake of an earlier pre-war version he had done. A kabuki theatre troupe comes to a remote village, only to find there's not enough of an audience for their show to sustain themselves. The reason they're there at all is the lead has an illegitamate son there. That's the human angle of the story, and it's okay enough, but this is also the 50's, so it's kind of stiff.

Of course, it's kind of meant to be stiff, I think. By this point, Kurosawa is breaking into the "modern", western style, and the old-skool, like kabuki, is being left behind. That's the rather obvious sub-text to what turns out to be a normal, reasonable story. The shots and the sequences have a rather stoic formality to them. Very well composed, but stiff, abrupt, and straight at the camera. The performances start of as very formal and distant, much like a formal stagecraft like the kabuki they show on-screen. It drills down to a more and more personal level as it digs deeper into the story. Being the '50's and all, it doesn't go as far as we might be used to now-a-days, but the beginning of the film is definitely different than the end as far as the performance goes.

Essentially, it's a film about that sort of transistion, so it's no surprise that you can watch that unfold. Beyond that, I'm glad I rented it, and it may make a worthy Critereon purchase, but it doesn't quite make it all the way for me. No biggie.

Second for the evening was the much more recent Korean release of "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... And Spring". It's a very comtemplative, meditative, and very, very Buddhist bit of a fable. A young boy grows up on a floating temple in the middle of a serene lake in an isolated valley. And everything comes full circle. Go figure, it's Buddhist after all...

Still, it's very lush, very simple, and very, very lacking in dialog. There's some, but overall, it's a visual parable, and it's quite engrossing. And very Buddhist. Maybe a rather bit predictably so. But that doesn't really detract from it; the atmosphere makes it.

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