Mizoguchi, Lubitsch, and Mamoulian

3 08 2009

I start college in less than twenty days so my posts are obviously going to be a lot less frequent until Winter Break, and I can’t even make promise for those weeks. So, to help keep my mind at ease (I hate the feeling that I have to write something about a film) and perhaps transition into a more efficient way of writing reviews, I’m going to say a lot less now. Maybe I’ll return to the old reviewing style a couple times before August ends, but I don’t think I’ll be doing so many more times. So, anyway, here’s what I’ve watched lately…

Orizuru Osen (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1935)

Some of the usual “Mizoguchi problems” here like a slightly too tragic tone, but overall, one of his most impressive efforts from the 1930s. While there is plenty of “big important drama” there is also a few quietly touching, if not downright heartbreaking moments. The scene where the old blind woman sends her grandson off to college is a perfect example of this. It helps that Mizougchi, as always, has a very sophisticated (at least for the time) control of the camera. The music is a bit over the top, and sounds Christmas-y for some bizarre reason, but its not that big of a problem. If anything, the only thing I found “wrong” with this is that is was simply a bit too difficult to sit through.

One Hour With You (Ernst Lubitsch, 1932)

Hands down, my favorite Lubitsch so far. It manages to take the most interesting premise that I’ve seen from him (from The Wedding Circle) and transform it into something equally “complex” but twenty times more fun to watch. I could complain about how willfully silly and over the top it is, but Lubitsch much better at this sort of thing than he is at making a realistic portrait of human interaction. The music is probably a little annoying to some people, come on, it’s fun. If you can’t take 80 minutes to enjoy something life this, then you’re probably taking yourself too seriously. But that kind of implies that the film is lightweight, which I guess it is, but that doesn’t make it any less brilliant.

Love Me Tonight (Rouben Mamoulian, 1932)

Another great Chevalier-MacDonald collaboration. In fact, this is probably one of the best classic Hollywood movies I’ve seen in quite awhile. Not only is it visually stunning, it’s also one of the most life-affirming things I’ve ever seen. The characters are a little flat, though. I mean, I don’t really get why Chevalier would pursue MacDonald and turn a shoulder to the beautiful Myrna Loy, especially when the film does little to nothing to emphasize the pros or cons of either woman. It still works in making me heartbeat faster than it should. I always have a hard time balancing my personal life with my opinion on certain films, but if anything, this was just the perfect conclusion to one of the better nights of the summer. Also, the opening is pretty much the greatest thing ever. I have heard believing that Ozu didn’t see this, but, unfortunately, there is no record of him doing so.



2 responses

3 08 2009

Awesome to see more love for One Hour with You and Love Me Tonight. They are amazing. I’ve just discovered that Mizoguchi is TLC’s MoM; this coincides with my mini-project for some 1930s Japanese films — I have the 2nd Shimizu boxset dl’ed, trying to dl Humanity and Paper Balloons (can’t get connected) and planned to grab available 30s Mizoguchi as well (only seen SoLC). Can you recommend any others? (Not just Mizo, but any 30s films I can find.)

Good luck with college. Where are you going and what are you studying?

4 08 2009
Jake Savage

I made a thread about 30s Japanese cinema at VT. Check there.

I’m going to Bowling Green State University (staying in-state) and majoring in….well, film.

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