Wednesday, October 21, 2015

266. Ugetsu Monogatari/Tales of Ugetsu (1953)

Running Time: 94 minutes
Directed By: Kenji Mizoguchi
Written By: Matsutaro Kawaguchi, Akinari Ueda, Yoshikata Yoda, from stories Asaji Ga Yado and Jasei No In by Akinari Ueda
Main Cast: Masayuki Mori, Kinuyo Tanaka, Mitsuko Mito, Eitaro Ozawa, Machiko Kyo
Click here to view the trailer


Expect to see me here everyday, with at least one review, from now until I'm finished. I'm starting to think that finishing up by Halloween may not be as unrealistic as I initially thought. I'm thinking of at least doing one movie per day and hopefully doubling or tripling up on my off days, which are Tuesdays and Saturdays.

I started watching Ugetsu a couple of weeks ago and was halted at the seventeen minute mark when the disc Netflix sent me turned out to be cracked, forcing me to send it back and get a replacement copy. I managed to get through it last night, from beginning to end, however. The film starts out by introducing us to a family - mother, father and son. The father is Genjuro (Mori), a pottery maker who, once he's made a batch of pots, takes them to town and sells them. The film picks up with Genjuro loading up his cart, ready to head off into town. He is joined by his neighbor Tobei (Ozawa), who offers to pull the cart. In exchange for his services, Genjuro pays him 1/3 of the profits. Upon their return, Genjuro boasts to his wife, Miyagi (Tanaka) about the fortune he made selling his pottery. Miyagi shares in his joy but warns him that they're living in a war torn land and that certain cautions need to be taken. She tells him that it's not all about making money, but he scoffs at her and predicts that with a little overtime, he could make twice the amount he made this time. So Genjuro gets to work, with help from Tobei, making pots and firing up the kiln. On the night before he and Tobei are to go to market and sell, soldiers attack the village where they live and the kiln must be abandoned. However, the four - including Tobei's wife, Ohama (Mito), go back in the night and unload the kiln, deciding to take a boat to the nearest town. On the water, they pass another boat with a single passenger, who looks worse for wear and warns them that there are pirates on the water and to be cautious. Genjuro decides to take Miyagi and their son back to shore and see them to safety, before they're attacked by pirates. He does so and then Genjuro, Ohama and Tobei go off to market to sell the goods. While at market, Genjuro is abandoned by Tobei when he sees a samurai and gets delusions of grandeur and by Ohama, when she runs after her husband.


Whew! That was a mouthful. Hoepfully that all made sense to everybody. Really, for such a short movie, there really is a lot going on here and I'm surprised that Mizoguchi managed to keep all the goings on contained to ninety minutes and change. I actually barely scratched the surface there, as the four main characters actually take separate paths and we get to see what becomes of each of them. Although, I guess if you're reading past the spoiler tag, you already know that. I suppose I liked this well enough, but at this point movies that are scoring sixes and sevens aren't cutting the mustard. In the past two months, I've only given out two scores of an eight or higher for BOOK movies and only one ten all year, to a BOOK movie ("Scarface"). Sure, I may just be getting to picky for my britches, but it seems that my goal to save nothing but greatness for the final 100 was unsuccessful. Instead, I've loaded the final 100 with heaps of mediocrity and Ugetsu falls into that category. I'm usually not one for fantastical elements in my films, but I suppose it worked here to mild success. I dug the few twists that were strategically placed throughout the film - one where we learn that Lady Wakasa is actually a spirit and the other when we learn that Miyagi is dead.

Perhaps one of the saddest moments I can remember in recent memory to come out of a BOOK movie was the revelation that Miyagi was deceased. When Genjuro finally makes his way back to his family, it's a sweet moment. She tells him she doesn't care where he's been, only that he's safe and he seems genuinely happy to see her again. Not only has he just had an affair, but he learns that his mistress was a ghost. He's scared & confused and it's Miyagi who puts him at ease. Only for us to learn the next morning, that Miyagi has been dead and that Genjuro's dreams of her were only a wish filled dream. Call it good, but not great and probably ripe to be rewatched someday and reconsidered.

RATING: 6/10  I was gonna' go '6.5', but I liked Walkabout a little better and I only gave that a '6' too, so thems the breaks.


October 21, 2015  3:26pm

1 comment:

  1. Sorry, nothing really to add to what you say . A film I enjoyed watching, but nothing much more I'm afraid.


SINS OF OMISSION - Entry #69: Re-Animator (1985)

Running Time: 105 minutes Directed By: Stuart Gordon Written By: Dennis Paoli, William Norris, Stuart Gordon, based on the story Her...