on 12 November 2007
Repast (1951) - a young wife disillusioned by her mundane life of housework has to decide whether to leave her emotionally unresponsive husband.
Sound of the Mountain (1954) - a young wife considers leaving her drunken philandering husband but bonds with her sympathetic father-in-law
Flowing (1956) - a diligent woman gets a job as maid in a declining geisha house run by a geisha coming to terms with being past her prime.
This is a sumptuous box set with 3 films plus commentaries & a book (& I mean book not booklet) containing essays by authorities like Audie Bock & Catherine Russell. Clearly Masters of Cinema are pulling out all the stops in making a case for Naruse as one of the great auteurs. Indeed each of these films is undeniably brilliant, however I can see why Naruse has previously failed to appeal to Western audiences the way Ozu, Mizoguchi, Kurosawa & co have done. Naruse's subject of post-war everyday family life is similar to Ozu's, but Ozu has a distinctive "formalist" style & "Buddhist" sense of resignation that makes his work seem understated, appealingly Japanese and yet universal. Naruse's films by contrast are more conventional 1950s "women's films", melodramas or whatever term you prefer. In fact Naruse's portrayal of family relationships is probably more complex - and darker - than Ozu's or Mizoguchi's and the position of women is treated in a more subversive manner. Even if you are averse to melodrama, Repast & Sound of the Mountain are extremely accomplished & thought provoking. Flowing is rather different - set in the geisha world it will be appealingly Japanese to many and is an amazing ensemble piece with eight strong women characters in constant interaction - it's sharp, funny and very poignant (this was actually the film of the three that had me in tears at the end!), it's full of subtle touches capturing the flow of the everyday - and of life (hence the title). Flowing is a perfect film & on a par with the best films of Ozu & Mizoguchi and goes a long way to justifying claims that Naruse really is one of the greats and justifying anyone interested in Japanese cinema getting this box set.
on 14 February 2014
This OOP MoC Naruse box is sheer beauty. A must have for everyone who wants to dive deeper into the Japanese classic films. Naruse is lesser known than Kurosawa, Mizoguchi or Ozu but he is unique and can stand next to these masters. As you can see the prices for this box is going sky high but i can assure you it is worthwhile to buy this before it is completely gone. Suffice to say i cannot recommend this one enough. To put on the shelf next to the beautifu book The Cinema of Naruse Mikio: Women and Japanese Modernity and the BFI Mikio Naruse Collection.