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  1. FilmSnob

    I Just Watched...

    Raise the Red Lantern (1991): Gong Li stars as Songlian, a 19 year-old university student who has to quit school and get married when her father dies. She decides to marry a rich older man for the money, then she moves into his walled-off compound and becomes his new fourth wife. Pampered life begins immediately, but with all the backstabbing, murder, and torture that goes on, there is not once a single moment of happiness or pleasure anywhere in 2 hours of this film. One of the best from the 1990s. There has never been a film more well-made. The cinematography is gorgeous, colors that are not technically possible anymore in many filmmaking markets, and the God the sound in this movie needs to be heard and listened to as much as watched. The editing is more than first class. Actually, the editing in the last sequence may be my favorite in all of cinema. Truly a sadistic story about the horrors of patriarchal society. It's a movie that leaves you feeling like all your blood got sucked out by the time the end credits role. Rating: Masterpiece
  2. FilmSnob

    I Just Watched...

    Late Spring (Ozu, 1949). The beginning of Ozu and Setsuko Hara's acclaimed "Noriko" trilogy, along with Tokyo Story two of the greatest movies ever made. Setsuko Hara plays the 20-something daughter Noriko, who cares for her elderly father after her mother died when she was very young. Noriko has been the woman of the house her entire life, and just recently lived through the horrors of World War II, in which her difficulties are only briefly alluded (scrubbed by Allied SCAP censors)...but now that the war is over, everyone is pressuring her to finally marry and move out. Why doesn't she want to get married? You can watch this movie a thousand times and never figure her out. She likes her father's younger colleague, but he's engaged to another girl. When he finally asks her out, she "doesn't want to cause trouble" and turns him down. Her gossipy aunt sets her up with a different man, but she's not that into him, even though he looks like Gary Cooper (or does he?), an actor known to be her type. Is she just immature, or asexual? Something even worse? Probably the simplest take is that she just loves her father and feels compelled to take care of him, and doesn't want her routine life changed, or want to move out. Considering the real lives of Ozu and Hara, this movie is the defining case of art imitating life. There are a few scenes and sequences that belong in the hall of fame: Miss Hara's iconic bike ride on the beach (even shown in other movies), the talk her father gives her when she asks why they just can't "stay the way they are", the heartbreaking images of her dressed in traditional Japanese wedding attire, and Chishu Ryu's last scene. Criterion's three reasons for Late Spring: 1. The texture of Japanese life (plus the allegories this film and Setsuko herself meant to the Japanese people at that time) 2. The love between father and daughter 3. The pain of letting go I used to say Casablanca was my favorite 1940s film, but having seen Late Spring I'll agree with Roger Ebert who said "sooner or later, everyone who truly loves movies comes to Ozu". Late Spring might not be as good from start to finish as the near perfect Tokyo Story, but by the end the cumulative effect is stronger, and I always feel this one more.
  3. FilmSnob

    What Are You Watching Now?

    Late Spring (Ozu, 1949): A little more uneven than Tokyo Story, but more powerful and devastating by the end. Setsuko Hara as Noriko may be one of the most complex characters ever put on screen. We know what she wants...but why? One can watch this film over and over again and her character will always remain elusive. Chishu Ryu as the father has one of the saddest ending scenes of all-time. Very thankful to have watched this and Tokyo Story in the past week.
  4. FilmSnob

    Your Three Favorite Actresses of All Time

    Setsuko Hara Ingrid Bergman Julie Andrews ... and maybe Zhang Ziyi lurking right around there.

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