Archive for November, 2019

Wall Eyed

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , on November 30, 2019 by dcairns

Masaki Kobayashi’s THE THICK-WALLED ROOM is a corker. All his films seem to cork, really, and I mean that in a good way.

Japanese war criminals await release. Many of them don’t understand why they’re imprisoned while the men who gave the orders go free. But the way to peace lies in acceptance of guilt — not made easier when there’s no bloody justice in the world, of course.

Kobayashi considered himself a hardboiled realist at this point, and he certainly doesn’t shy away from tough and challenging scenes, but his realistic detail is delivered with a lot of stylisation. The soundtrack is particularly important, with the noise of prison rock-breaking continued across scenes where it couldn’t be present, creating an oppressive, unrelenting effect.

So Kobayashi is an expressionist as well as a realist (and he has the Dutch tilts to prove it). The film features flashbacks and the transitions into them are really interesting — one set are delivered via a hallucination sequence in which the titular room is blasted into Swiss cheese via gunshots which sound more like the blows of the masonry hammers. When the terrified prisoner looks through the newly-created spyholes he sees scenes from his past, including one where he’s forced to use a bound man for bayonet practice.

But then Kobayashi cuts to a reverse angle taken from inside this temporal peepshow and we can see a huge eye in the background, staring from the landscape. Not an optical effect — a big, constructed prop. I want to listen in on the production meeting where MK explained what he wanted and why. But I don’t speak Japanese.

Stephen Prince, in Masaki Kobayashi: A Dream of Resistance, relates this eyeball to the big sky-eyes painted on the cyclorama in KWAIDAN. An audience gazing from outside of our spacetime. But maybe they are ourselves, from some future vantage point.

A Dream of Resistance

Oh — Fiona also noted that when a character on day release is hypnotized by a shop display of knives, it’s a fairly direct quotation from M. I can put the images together and make one sequence:

Still Kobayashi

It’s a Gif

Posted in FILM with tags , , on November 29, 2019 by dcairns

It’s a gif from IT’S A GIFT.

If you want a vision of the past, said George Orwell, imagine a grape falling on a human face, forever. (He wrote this in his novel of the dystopian past, “1934.” But then he bolted a couple of semi-circles onto the numeral 3 and it was transformed into a novel of the future.)

Shades of Bacchus. Or Sysiphus.

Late, Late, Late

Posted in FILM with tags , on November 28, 2019 by dcairns

I thought about scheduling this a week later, especially since I haven’t watched any suitable films yet, but what the heck?

December 1st is a Sunday, which is perfect — the start of the week. We can begin gently, with an intertitle… I have a film in mind…