Hachi-gatsu no Kyôshikyoku

(Rhapsody in August)

(Akira Kurosawa, 1991)

This is a simple, still, gentle movie. Kurosawa doesn’t try for excess or over complication either narratively or thematically, but he crafts his movie very well, with great composure, and he fills it with powerful, communicative imagery the way he spent basically all of his 50 year career doing.

Japan’s preoccupation with the atomic bomb is a topic Kurosawa had covered at least once before, some three and a half decades back in I Live in Fear, and he revisits it here in more calm fashion, more considered. If that previous effort was the work of a man in his angry prime, this is clearly the work of someone in his twilight years looking back with a peaceful serenity lent him by a long life lived, and a great many experiences passed rather than looking around at the complication of the world in which he lived at the time.

Kurosawa was 35 years old when the bombs were dropped, so he knew this world, he knew how people felt, thought, lived, and he continued to do so for decades afterwards. Knowing this it seems safe to say that he’s put no trace of a lie up on screen, and though his movie seemed to anger many on both sides of the pacific upon its release it seems to me about as decent and fair an attempt to put to rest ghosts that had probably hung around too long.

It’s not a movie of incredibly complex characters (though the adults that make their way into it in the latter stages are shaded with enough grey to suggest Kurosawa has not gone completely soft), nor is it an actors showcase, all the men and women are merely… pawns in a great mans call for peace and brotherhood among man. It is sad that people allowed themselves to get so worked up over it, so politically charged over what the movie was trying to say when at least to me it seems pretty obvious that there’s no great secret or agenda here beyond the simplistic wisdom that comes easily to the man that made the movie, while sadly eluding the character at the heart of it.

As with so many of his late career movies this one again ponders the generation gap, though just as he would go on to do in Madadayo he doesn’t completely condemn either old nor young. Just as with all his career movies the visuals he crafts speak as many words as the characters do, and the one he ends on is one of the finest he ever composed. No matter what, no matter how futile hope may be, whatever meagre resistance can be offered by those that remember will be. As another anniversary of the Fat Man bombing approaches, the idea of forgiving but not forgetting seems a smart one.

The movie also features Richard Gere speaking Japanese. It’s worth watching for that if nothing else.



"The Italian noun "ghibli" is based on the Arabic name for the Mediterranean wind, the idea being the studio would ‘blow a new wind through the anime industry’"

"The Italian noun "ghibli" is based on the Arabic name for the Mediterranean wind, the idea being the studio would ‘blow a new wind through the anime industry’"


lesavions:

The original manuscript of ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ by Wilfred Owen (1893-1918), who died within a week of the armistice which ended the First World War, with annotations, corrections and suggestions added by close friend and fellow war poet, Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967), who survived the war and lived to publish his friend’s poetry after his death. 

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,Till on the haunting flares we turned our backsAnd towards our distant rest began to trudge.Men marched asleep. Many had lost their bootsBut limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hootsOf disappointed shells that dropped behind.
GAS! Gas! Quick, boys! — An ecstasy of fumbling,Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;But someone still was yelling out and stumblingAnd floundering like a man in fire or lime…Dim, through the misty panes and thick green lightAs under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.If in some smothering dreams you too could paceBehind the wagon that we flung him in,And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;If you could hear, at every jolt, the bloodCome gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cudOf vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,My friend, you would not tell with such high zestTo children ardent for some desperate glory,The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est;Pro patria mori.

lesavions:

The original manuscript of ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ by Wilfred Owen (1893-1918), who died within a week of the armistice which ended the First World War, with annotations, corrections and suggestions added by close friend and fellow war poet, Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967), who survived the war and lived to publish his friend’s poetry after his death. 

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of disappointed shells that dropped behind.

GAS! Gas! Quick, boys! — An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or lime…
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est;
Pro patria mori.


Behind Blue Eyes
The Who
Who's Next

aplaceforlovelynoise:

Behind Blue Eyes - The Who.

No one knows what it’s like
To be the bad man
To be the sad man
Behind blue eyes

No one knows what it’s like
To be hated
To be fated
To telling only lies

But my dreams
They aren’t as empty
As my conscience seems to be

I have hours, only lonely
My love is vengeance
That’s never free

No one knows what it’s like
To feel these feelings
Like I do
And I blame you

No one bites back as hard
On their anger
None of my pain and woe
Can show through

But my dreams
They aren’t as empty
As my conscience seems to be

I have hours, only lonely
My love is vengeance
That’s never free

When my fist clenches, crack it open
Before I use it and lose my cool
When I smile, tell me some bad news
Before I laugh and act like a fool

If I swallow anything evil
Put your finger down my throat
If I shiver, please give me a blanket
Keep me warm, let me wear your coat

No one knows what it’s like
To be the bad man
To be the sad man
Behind blue eyes


humanoidhistory:

"This war, like the next war, is a war to end war."
—David Lloyd George

centenary.

humanoidhistory:

"This war, like the next war, is a war to end war."

—David Lloyd George

centenary.


STANLEY KUBRICK

incomplete, but still awesome.


"I was thinking of asking out Buffy."

BUFFY REWATCH - one gifset per episode
4.07 - The Initiative

Papurika

(Satoshi Kon, 2006)

I think the plot of this movie is stronger than it generally gets credit for. The first time that I watched it some years back I loved it primarily for that reason alone. On rewatch the overplotting is kind of  a bit much for me, but I think the movie, while not my favourite from the late, great Satoshi Kon, is a supremely strong one, and works mighty well on a visual level. It is a mighty piece of cinema that brings dreams to screen probably better than any other film on the subject that I’ve seen.

It also handles the relationship (again, through subtle, wholly visual, and entirely unpreachy means) between man and machine, the real world and the fantasy one in a manner that is entirely aware of the darker possibilities, while ultimately not shying away from the potential glories.

It’s that kind of well rounded exploration of universal themes that makes it one of the most hugely relevant movies of the past decade, and one so filled with detailed imagery that you can puzzle and ponder over it for viewing after viewing, and still find things anew, or different interpretations. It’s not pure cinema, but it’s a wonderfully entertaining plot, garlanded with enough of the specifics of the medium to work in much deeper ways too.


The Immigrant

(James Gray, 2013)

Looking at the scale of this movie it’s no surprise it arrived a full 5 years after Gray’s previous film as the whole production is it least 3 times the size of anything else he has done to date. Sadly, though he may have stepped up to the majors in terms of production values (and make no mistake, this film looks gorgeous. It is shot beautifully, the costumes are perfect, and 1920s New York is so real you can feel it in a way not seen since The Godfather Part II some 40 years ago.

Sadly, the visuals are all of that movie that this one closely replicates. Narratively it just all feels so uninspired, the story feels so done before, and doesn’t really get us to the heart of the central themes with any real depth. It’s all surface level stuff in the way that so much of Gray’s work is. He makes pale imitations of better films that are enjoyable because he makes a slick film, and is great with actors.

The slickness is gone with this one, a more deliberate, leisurely, somber sort of pacing clearly aimed for, but not every movie that is slow in pace works, and for me this isn’t one that does. Frankly I kind of lost interest in the middle stages, and there was nothing in the screenplay that kept me engaged, and nothing in the filmmaking that kept my attention.

Anyway, the movie is saved because the actors are still on top form. Cotillard does very well in the titular role. It’s not especially out of this world sort of stuff, but she’s utterly convincing every step of the way, she looks the part, sounds the part, and the fact she’s French and the fact that she’s a movie star do not at any point hinder this work. Gray regular Joaquin Phoenix continues his recent hot streak, blending a mysterious grey morality with almost crippling vulnerability as seamlessly as very few others can. I’m no great Jeremy Renner fan, and yet this is about as much as I’ve ever liked him in anything recently. As with American Hustle last year I just think he’s so well cast, and thus just works so damn well in the role. It was nice to see Dagmara Dominczyk back on screen too, however small her part.

Ultimately it’s an overall pretty disappointing effort for me from a movie I was anticipating so much on account of the subject matter, and the cast, and the fact that I think Gray reached a career high with Two Lovers back in 2008, and this was his too long in coming follow up. It’s definitely a step backwards for him because once again in spite of the fact that he knows how to make a movie, I’m not sure he’s the guy who should be writing his own stuff, as with all he’s done save for Two Lovers, he never really gets as much out of the premise as a better scribe might.


You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth
Meat Loaf
Bat Out Of Hell
  • Boy:On a hot summer night, would you offer your throat to the wolf with the red roses?
  • Girl:Will he offer me his mouth?
  • Boy:Yes
  • Girl:Will he offer me his teeth?
  • Boy:Yes
  • Girl:Will he offer me his jaws?
  • Boy:Yes
  • Girl:Will he offer me his hunger?
  • Boy:Yes
  • Girl:Again, will he offer me his hunger?
  • Boy:Yes
  • Girl:And will he starve without me?
  • Boy:Yes!
  • Girl:And does he love me?
  • Boy:Yes
  • Girl:Yes
  • Boy:On a hot summer night, would you offer your throat to the wolf with the red roses?
  • Girl:Yes
  • Boy:I bet you say that to all the boys…