Customer Review

33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent BFI Naruse Box Set, 12 Oct 2009
By 
This review is from: Mikio Naruse Collection [1955] [DVD] (DVD)
WHEN A WOMAN ASCENDS THE STAIRS (1960) a Ginza bar hostess has to decide whether to open her own club, get a rich patron, become a mistress/prostitute or get married.
FLOATING CLOUDS (1955) a couple enjoy a romantic affair in indo-china during the war but return to defeated Japan & struggle to maintain their lives & love amid the economic & psychological devastation.
LATE CHRYSANTHEMUMS (1954) a group of ex-Geisha argue about children, men, memories and, most of all, money.
This BFI box set follows the Masters of Cinema Naruse box set - it has an almost identical format: 3 films on 3 discs with booklet, filmed introductions, commentaries etc. Although the prints are not always in the best condition they are all watchable & generally the BFI have done an excellent job here.
Naruse is a baffling director - he is basically working in the genre of over the top histrionic melodrama yet his films also contain extraordinary subtlety and unflinching realism. These apparent contradictions are somehow made to work together beautifully in "When a Woman Ascends the Stairs" - probably the best Naruse film to begin with because of its very sophisticated direction & acting plus appealing modernist scope cinematography (& jazzy soundtrack). "Floating Clouds" is a moving melodrama but also has a brilliantly achieved complex narrative structure and radical psychological insights. "Late Chrysanthemums" might be Naruse's purest effort in that he manages to empty the film of almost all melodrama & plot, leaving just the cynical (but often very funny) interactions between a group of middle-aged women.
Watching these films you start to notice how Naruse creates a flowing "transparent" style out of short scenes & acute editing and how he choreographs his incredible actresses - for example how he can arrange the glances and gazes of several characters in a scene at any given moment. You also get a sense that his main theme is the ageing process & that he is not actually judging any of the characters - everyone is emotionally damaged & everyone has their "secret" reasons for behaving the way they do. He captures the everyday surface of life yet reveals the extreme depths that lie beneath.
Naruse may initially be an acquired taste, but it's worth it - at his best he makes almost all other directors seem affected, slow-witted & light-weight.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Be the first person to comment on this review.

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines ">here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
 


Review Details

Item

4.8 out of 5 stars (5 customer reviews)
5 star:
 (4)
4 star:
 (1)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
84.99
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Reviewer


Location: London UK

Top Reviewer Ranking: 2,447