Archive for Red Angel


Posted in Comics, FILM, literature with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 8, 2021 by dcairns

The non-essential shops and businesses are open in the UK — bizarrely, the pandemic is less rampant here than on the European mainland right now — so I got my first haircut in a year and hit the charity shops. Amazing what you can find.

My sister, who works in a lab, says now is the best time to go out and do stuff if you’re going to. Later will be more dangerous, probably.

I’ve never see S*P*I*E*S, the failed attempt to reunite the leads of M*A*S*H and I don’t expect it to be any damn good but I bought it for £2 because I’m curious what fresh new flavour of awful it may provide. I think C*I*A would have been a better title — calling up the asterisks of the earlier film but actually making sense. And if your satirical purpose was to do for the intelligence community what you did for the Korean War, you have at least the beginnings of a satirical line of attack, something I doubt this movie possesses. This is directed by Irvin Kershner, specialist in following up other people’s movies. But I’m a Vladek Sheybal completist, as you know.

I’ve seen RED ANGEL, Yasuzo Masumura’s own answer to M*A*S*H, kinda — well, it does deal with medicine in wartime. I found it incredible as cinema and deeply problematic in its attitudes to what it’s showing. The overheated and desperate atmosphere of it was so impressive I’m willing to see it again, and I wanted to own it because I am on some level horribly acquisitive.

Fiona liked Matteo Garrone’s TALE OF TALES more than I did, but it was certainly great-looking.

CEX, the dopily-named second-hand store was open too, but they know how to price the things I want high enough for me not to want them anymore. But I bought THE ‘BURBS on Blu-ray because I couldn’t resist all those extras and I wanted to see the original cut. And A CLOCKWORK ORANGE was actually pretty cheap.

Back to the charity shops — I hit the main clusters, in Leith, Morningside and Stockbridge. My favourite, the St Columba’s Bookshop, is kind of in the middle of nowhere but that’s on the walk between here and Stockbridge so I picked up some comics — The Steel Claw! — and books — The Genius of the System! — and DVDs.

I got Robert Wise’s HELEN OF TROY on a whim because it was only a pound — terrible film, but I don’t think I’ve ever see a good copy — maybe it’ll grown on me — Neil Jordan’s BYZANTIUM was equally cheap — don’t usually like his stuff but he has some ambition at least — MUDER AHOY with Margaret Rutherford was 50p so now I want all her Marple films — JSA: JOINT SECURITY AREA “from the director of OLDBOY” seemed worth a punt at 50p — and THE ROYAL HUNT OF THE SUN even though we just watched it, and SHORTBUS because we’ve never seen it. GHOSTBUSTERS I&II — I’ve only seen one of them. I’ll probably never watch the other.

Can you look forward to reading about these films on Shadowplay? Oh, probably not. I have too many films, and too many ways of getting more. But if there are any you really want to hear more about, tell me.

The walls also have…

Posted in FILM, Politics with tags , , , , , , on May 2, 2008 by dcairns

Images from BLIND BEAST. The ol’ factory.

Seriously, if you only rent one movie this year in which a blind sculptor kidnaps a young woman and imprisons her in a nose-lined warehouse, please please please MAKE SURE IT’S THIS ONE. I’m not sure how good it is, but it’s very individual.

Director Yasuzo Masumura seems like quite an eccentric figure. GIANTS AND TOYS, his shouty industrial satire, was pretty strange, BLIND BEAST lollops headlong into some apocalyptic realm of psychosexual lunacy, and I was most impressed of all with RED ANGEL, a sweatily intense, despairingly romantic doctor-nurse love story set amid the severed limbs of World War Two. I was with it all the way up until the portrayal of “comfort women” — Masumura characterises these forcibly-conscripted army prostututes as giggling imbeciles, when the reality is they were Chinese women abducted and raped by Japanese forces. It’s a bit like showing the nazi’s “Joy Division” as happy hookers.

In the UK, where veterans’ groups are forever pushing for an official apology from the Japanese government for war crimes against P.O.W.s, there’s a sort of low-level awareness that Japan hasn’t quite faced up to its past the way Germany has. One can’t imagine anyone portraying the nazi’s “Joy Division” as happy hookers, for God’s sake.

RED ANGEL is an amazing piece of cinema nonetheless, but I’m totally uncertain if I should even try to see past this colossal, shall we say, error of taste?

I mention it here because nobody else seems to have. It’s a moment that, for me, pushes the film into nasty BIRTH OF A NATION historical-revision territory, although at least the film hasn’t caused the kind of actual real-world harm Griffith’s monsterpiece provoked, and the criminal moment in the Masumura is arguably incidental to the main themes, which I don’t have such a problem with. Whereas Griffith’s problem is absolutely central.