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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Kwaidan (1964)

A portmanteau film consisting of four Japanese ghost stories: The Black Hair in which a samurai (Rentaro Mikuni) abandons his wife (Michiyo Aratama) and a life of poverty to marry the daughter (Misako Watanabe) of a wealthy man (Kenjiro Ishiyama), Woman Of The Snow in which the life of a young man (Tatsuya Nakadai) whose life is spared by a female vampire (Keiko Kishi) on the condition of a promise, Hoichi The Earless in which a blind musician (Katsuo Nakamura) is seduced by ghosts into entertaining them and In A Cup Of Tea in which a warrior (Kanemon Nakamura) sees the reflection of an unknown man in his tea. Winner of the Special Jury Prize at Cannes as well as an Oscar nomination for a Best Foreign Language film, this is one stunning looking film! Masaki Kobayashi's film is a very stylized film entirely filmed on soundstages including sea battles and snow storms which allows him to control the lighting and color. The first two stories are quite captivating (the second one was ripped off in 1990's TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE: THE MOVIE) but the film's snail pacing, the film pushes the three hour mark, eventually makes the last two hard going despite the impressive visuals. With Tetsuro Tanba (YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE) and Haruko Sugimura (TOKYO STORY).

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