Archive for January 2, 2022

The Sunday Intertitle: Madadayo

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , , , , , , on January 2, 2022 by dcairns

We found RAMPO aka THE MYSTERY OF EDOGAWA RAMPO a bit of a snooze, though it did have oodles of style and it’s got Fiona reading the works of Edogawa Rampo, the Japanese Edgar Allen Poe (much the same, but pervier). We had previously enjoyed some movies based on his stories — HORRORS OF MALFORMED MEN, BLIND BEAST, can’t say the same for Wakamatsu’s CAPERPILLAR — and the idea of a HAMMETT-style blend of biography and fiction seemed appealing.

The mystery is of the Lynchian kind, a puzzle without a solution, as fact and fiction merge without any real rationale. Dazzling and frustrating, then unaccountably tedious. But there are people who love the film. Anyway, the intertitle comes from an anime section depicting one of Rampo’s tales, a fatal tale of hide and seek. “I know this!” I thought, as the hider shouts, “I’m not ready [madadayo]” — I’m indebted to Donald Ritchie’s explanation of the Japanese rules of hide and seek as it relates to the title of Kurosawa’s last film.

The story is laid in the 1920s (filtered through the dry ice and light-shaft look of the 1990s) so it’s natural for the anime to include intertitles, even though we can hear the voices too. That sums up the film’s style: the flourishes never seem to work as brilliant inspirations to elide boring stuff and tell the story more simply — they’re always round-the-houses elaborations that don’t really need to be there. But they’re enjoyable in themselves.

I think if there had been any believable relationships or real emotions I’d have liked it more. The style doesn’t have enough to be stylish ABOUT.