Shinjū: Ten no amijima (Double Suicide) Reviews
May 18, 2008
this is a mind blowing piece of surrealism. it begins in a bunraku puppet theater, transitioning to live actors, an emotionally off putting device at first. the effect is compounded by the highly stylized sets and use of ghostly kuroko, stagehands dressed entirely in black who help to advance the action while seemingly observing as helplessly as the audience. the merchant jihei's erotic obsession with a prostitute who loves him in return makes them outlaws from rigid societal norms. both his lover and long-suffering wife are played by the same actress, seemingly an archetype of woman. the scenes of the pair's final love-making in a cemetery and jihei's kuroko assisted death were very beautiful. i know it sounds pretentious and it was at first hard to adjust to but it's unlike anything i've seen before and well worth a look
July 8, 2009
From The Criterion Collection Spine Number 104. If you don't know what the Criterion Collection is you need to do a Google Search on it and check out about 400 of the best films you will see in the lifetime. if your idea of a good movie is Spiderman, Harry Potter or Ghostbusters, then the Criterion Collection IS NOT FOR YOU. In this movie a Paper Merchant who is married with children falls in love with a courtesan (Whore), and must choose between the two. By the title you can guess the ending. Its in Black & White and the Language is Chinese with English Subtitles. This is Art house stuff try it, I will warn you it takes a little to get used to but when you do your hooked to these movies. 4 1.2 Stars.
January 9, 2012
Adapted from an 18th century play, Masahiro Shinoda's "Double Suicide" is a classic tragedy. The story was originally written for a form of Japanese puppet theater called "bunraku," hence the opening credits roll over footage of such puppets being readied for performance.
The plot is initially simple but soon turns trickier. Jihei is the struggling owner of a paper shop. He has two young children with wife Osan but unfortunately has fallen in love with Koharu, a local courtesan. (Remarkably, the same actress portrays both Osan and Koharu -- between Osan's blackened teeth and Koharu's thick geisha makeup, this detail is easy to miss.)
Koharu loves Jihei too and, against all odds, the two actually have a monogamous relationship (Jihei no longer sleeps with Osan, and Koharu refuses other clients). Jihei hopes to buy Koharu's freedom but can't afford the price, and a wealthy cretin may buy her first. Meanwhile, Osan and her family naturally resent Jihei's infidelity. Will this conflict resolve happily? Re-read the film's title.
The story's pull is not so much about foolish Jihei, but about the unlikely empathy between Osan and Koharu. Koharu doesn't want Osan saddled with a husband's suicide, and Osan worries about Koharu's potential misery with the unwanted rival suitor. It's an interesting angle to emphasize, given a culture where women were strictly secondary.
Also interesting is how Shinoda stages the action. In typical New Wave fashion, "Doubie Suicide" continually reminds us of the film's false reality. The main set has oversized characters painted all over the floor (a purely stylistic move) and, more importantly, a variety of black-hooded figures lurk around the frame, serving as onscreen stagehands. They silently observe, supply props, rearrange sets and even assist in the climactic act of violence, but are never acknowledged by the main players. Spooky and fascinating.
February 16, 2013
A beautifully filmed and provocative exploration of love, desire, and the nature of cinema/theatre, Double Suicide is based on a play from classic Japanese theatre, and the film explores the nature of theatre, film, and the relation between the two. The opening credits roll over a montage of bunraku puppets and features kuroko--Japanese stagehands who appear in all-black and which Shinoda uses to creepy effect as well as to achieve a meta-level commentary on the nature of film and its relation to the everyday. While Double Suicide is no doubt brilliant, there is way to much crying and screaming. It becomes tedious before the end. I appreciate good drama and tragedy, but I found this to be a bit over-the-top and annoying. Some of Ozu's constraint might have been beneficial to an otherwise excellent film...
October 22, 2008
The texture and concept is really interesting. Lots of cinematography standouts. But it frustrated me because of the stupid storyline
December 15, 2014
Ingeniously directed and performed.
April 11, 2012
one of those haunting films I absolutely admire but dread watching the second time.
May 22, 2008
Wow, it's no fun being married, Japanese, in love with a courtesan, and in the 18th Century. Who knew? But [i]Shinjū: Ten no amijima[/i], based on a Japanese [i]bunraku[/i] and morality play, it some pretty heavy stuff. I mean, there is no happily-ever-after here, and we'd know that even without the title. I mean, when you call your movie [i]Double Suicide[/i], we're not exactly expecting Our Hero to triumph and carry Our Heroine away, are we? But the story itself makes it pretty clear that somebody is not going to end happily, and it's probably going to be everybody, even without the give away of the title. And, of course, the story is old enough so that no one in all of Japan would have been likely to have been surprised anyway.
As indicated, Jihei (Kichiemon Nakamura) is in love with a courtesan named Koharu (Shima Iwashita), despite being married to Osan (also Shima Iwashita, in one of the film's many interesting stylistic choices). He is wasting his family's money and all his time hanging around the brothel where she works, and his brother and his father-in-law are starting to get seriously upset about the whole thing. They conspire to make Jihei give her up, but it doesn't work. Then Koharu's life is in danger, and Osan gives up everything in order to save it--as Koharu later puts it, they forgot to be jealous. Jihei rescues her, but for reasons I don't entirely understand, they'll never be safe, so in order to stay together, he kills her and then himself. Let's face it; it doesn't make any less sense than [i]Romeo and Juliet[/i].
It's a beautiful piece of film. Breathtaking, really. The choice of style doesn't work for everyone, but I think it's the only choice that fits. You see, [i]bunraku[/i] is a kind of puppet theatre, and while we are working with human actors, here, we keep the puppeteers. They are everywhere, silent men all in black who follow Our Lovers around, moving scenery and saying nothing. They steer the story, and we watch it. That's simply how it works. There is no attempt at an illusion of reality; the whole thing is seen from a different plane entirely. On the other hand, it makes it seem almost more real, almost [i]hyper[/i]-real. Everyone, I think, half-suspects that everyone is watching them anyway. Everyone is the center of their own attention, in that lovely Eddie Vedder phrase. In the case of Our Lovers, it just happens to be true.
The more Japanese film I watch, the more aware I become of some of the slight differences in many works. Later film, both Japanese and American, is strongly influenced by the great directors of each. Hence [i]The Magnificent Seven[/i], really. But there is always Japanese film, such as this, which makes far more shots like those beautiful Japanese paintings. They are stylized; these people are themselves and archetypes and copies of themselves all at once. It's as though you could go to any cemetery in Japan and find these lovers, find any lovers, as though no Japanese cemetery is complete without them. Any geisha is Koharu; any man who loves a geisha is Jihei. Also, it is quite clear that there is no Code in Japan, or if there is, it's looking for [i]very[/i] different things. No American film of 1969, or at least no mainstream one, would have shown a pair of adulterous lovers, one a prostitute, having sex--complete with her orgasm!--in a graveyard.
This film feels earlier than it is. I went and double-checked the year, and all I could think was, "1969? Really?" And, of course, we think of American film of the era as being more shocking. But this film is willing to show us the eroticism of a revealed leg; American film of the era showed us all of everybody's legs. An American version of this would be sexual; this is romantic and erotic.
April 16, 2005
What a weird and interesting film this was. It's basically a filmed play. It was a little hard to get used to at first, with people dressed in all black following characters around and adjusting the sets and props, but once I did and the story took off it was well worth seeing. The conclusion of the film felt a bit drawn out to me, and that could have something to do with knowing how the film would end. It just seemed that there was a bit too much crying and arguing when the two unfortunate lovers fled to their doom.
HUSBANDS AND WIVES
[/b]This film would have been much better had it not been filmed in its documentary style. It was actually pretty bothersome, because there were instances when the "people making the documentary" couldn't have had footage of certain things, like Allen's former girlfriend who he speaks of who now resides in a mental institution. We see footage of her in his apartment, and it breaks up the authentic feel Allen seemed to be attempting to obtain. The film did have some nice drama though, and solid performances. It was an interesting look into the later progressions of marriage.
[/b]There was a great film in here somewhere, I know there was. Unfortunately, looking for it was too distracting to appreciate the great moments between Tarkovsky's masturbation. There is absolutely no reason for this film to be three hours long. There are shots that should have and could have been cut down in length, and shots and scenes that could have been cut altogether. Soderberg's version puts this one to shame, though I will say that I liked Tark's ending a bit more.
This was my second Chabrol film and while it was a solid film, I can't help but feel a little disappointed. I loved [i]Le Bucher [/i](it has a spot in my top twenty) and I think my expectations were a little unreal. It's a very good suspensful film though, and the performances are all top notch, especially Bonnaire playing an illiterate maid who befriends a postal clerk with a sketchy past. It's no [i]Bucher[/i], but it's still good Chabrol.
There is a very definite reason why this film wasn't good. Tea Leoni's character. She was awful. She had no redeeming value whatsoever, and therefore I couldn't find a single reason why Sandler should stay with her or still be with her after all these years. That, and the fact that Sandler was portrayed as nearly flawless. The strength of this film was with Paz Vega and her daughter and their difficulty adjusting to another culture. When they were off screen and Sandler and Leoni's family was the focus, the film was completely uninteresting.
November 26, 2004
Pro: Set design. The ending.
Con: Concept didn't really work. Story.