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This review is from: Onibaba [Masters of Cinema] [DVD]  (DVD)
This is one of those classic Japanese films that I had managed to miss till now. To tell too much of the plot is to give it away, so I won't but it's a really well-told tale with fantastic photography and a cast of three central characters. The title translates as something like 'Devil Woman'. This MOC DVD has Alex Cox doeing a nice little intro (though I've yet to listen to the commentary), but what was obvious from the start is that for 1964 and in Japan at that there is a lot of nudity. Given the sweltering setting of the swamp where the main characters live and the indeterminate historical setting (it could be the Middle Ages, for all I know), it makes sense for them not to be covering themselves up all the time, so it's a breath of realistic fresh air for the period it was shot in. The performances from the two leads as the possessive, bitter mother-in-law (by turns hag-like and then very sexy) and the young daughter-in-law, are great. The only thing that nagged me: most of the scenes take place at night and some in a deep hole in the ground and even though you see a full moon in one shot, there's no way to explain how everything is lit half the time ... just dramatic license, I suppose. This would make an amazing double bill with Teshigahara's Woman of the Dunes or even Polanski's Knife in the Water.