Manji Reviews

  • Mar 06, 2019

    Another strange film from Yasuzô Masumura. The film opens with Sonoko (Kyôko Kishida) tells us (and presumably her psychiatrist) the story of her infatuation and love affair with Mitsuko (Ayako Wakao), a younger model who she met at an art class. The remainder of the film is one long flashback to the events that transpired, with only occasional cut-ins to remind us that this is a narrative from Sonoko. Although married, Sonoko throws herself passionately into her secret trysts with Mitsuko and soon she is brazenly and openly telling her husband Kotaro (Eiji Funakoshi) about the affair. He demands her to stop. She resists but when Mitsuko reveals that she has a fiancà (C) Watanuki (Yûsuke Kawazu) and that she may be pregnant by him, Sonoko decides to cut things off. Until Mitsuko and Watanuki begin to play games, luring Sonoko back into the relationship and encouraging Kotaro as well. The characters here are all unabashedly driven by intense passions, sexual perhaps, but there is something even more inexplicable about Mitsuko that drives them all toward her. Indeed, they are so wrapped up in her mind games and their silly blood oaths (and eventually ritualistic sleeping-draught taking) that they seem immature, like children or teenagers playing in a fantasy world of their own making. Almost from the start of the film, the characters speak of their love as something they would die for and Mitsuko repeatedly asks Sonoko to kill her because her love is too strong. It is strange â" and perhaps it is linked to Japanese culture? At any rate, Masumuraâ(TM)s widescreen compositions are often beautiful with the characters sometimes constrained to just part of the screen with the remainder filled with a richly textured space (either a wall, latticed stairs, some textile, or some other rectangular shape); no doubt this adds psychological tension to the presentation (as does the occasional nudity, potentially shocking for the time). Yet, despite all this, I found myself impatient at the silliness of it all.

    Another strange film from Yasuzô Masumura. The film opens with Sonoko (Kyôko Kishida) tells us (and presumably her psychiatrist) the story of her infatuation and love affair with Mitsuko (Ayako Wakao), a younger model who she met at an art class. The remainder of the film is one long flashback to the events that transpired, with only occasional cut-ins to remind us that this is a narrative from Sonoko. Although married, Sonoko throws herself passionately into her secret trysts with Mitsuko and soon she is brazenly and openly telling her husband Kotaro (Eiji Funakoshi) about the affair. He demands her to stop. She resists but when Mitsuko reveals that she has a fiancà (C) Watanuki (Yûsuke Kawazu) and that she may be pregnant by him, Sonoko decides to cut things off. Until Mitsuko and Watanuki begin to play games, luring Sonoko back into the relationship and encouraging Kotaro as well. The characters here are all unabashedly driven by intense passions, sexual perhaps, but there is something even more inexplicable about Mitsuko that drives them all toward her. Indeed, they are so wrapped up in her mind games and their silly blood oaths (and eventually ritualistic sleeping-draught taking) that they seem immature, like children or teenagers playing in a fantasy world of their own making. Almost from the start of the film, the characters speak of their love as something they would die for and Mitsuko repeatedly asks Sonoko to kill her because her love is too strong. It is strange â" and perhaps it is linked to Japanese culture? At any rate, Masumuraâ(TM)s widescreen compositions are often beautiful with the characters sometimes constrained to just part of the screen with the remainder filled with a richly textured space (either a wall, latticed stairs, some textile, or some other rectangular shape); no doubt this adds psychological tension to the presentation (as does the occasional nudity, potentially shocking for the time). Yet, despite all this, I found myself impatient at the silliness of it all.

  • Aug 03, 2009

    Perhaps a tad over dramatic yet maybe that was deliberate to be noticed, to shock the viewers as much the male part of society. Made in mid 60's so I can understand why it was controversial at the time. Worth a look, yet not everyone's cup of tea.

    Perhaps a tad over dramatic yet maybe that was deliberate to be noticed, to shock the viewers as much the male part of society. Made in mid 60's so I can understand why it was controversial at the time. Worth a look, yet not everyone's cup of tea.

  • Jun 07, 2009

    Like it says on the back of the cover. This is a very Hitchcockian/Lynch film with twist and turns and shocking revelations. It is not on the par as Mulholland Drive but if you consider the time it was released then we can safely say it was ahead of its time. The movie is about obsession, betrayal, curiosity, lust, love and everything you can think of when it comes to a relationship. It's a very bizarre film and I have not seen anything quite like it before. The story starts with an art student that falls in love with another woman. They start a love affair but just when you think it's only them two involved, the story starts to unravel some shocking twists and a powerful ending.

    Like it says on the back of the cover. This is a very Hitchcockian/Lynch film with twist and turns and shocking revelations. It is not on the par as Mulholland Drive but if you consider the time it was released then we can safely say it was ahead of its time. The movie is about obsession, betrayal, curiosity, lust, love and everything you can think of when it comes to a relationship. It's a very bizarre film and I have not seen anything quite like it before. The story starts with an art student that falls in love with another woman. They start a love affair but just when you think it's only them two involved, the story starts to unravel some shocking twists and a powerful ending.

  • Dec 07, 2008

    So crazy and weird and unpredictable.

    So crazy and weird and unpredictable.

  • Sep 17, 2008

    This 1964 Japanese film is about an obsessive lesbian relationship that develops between two art students. The initial love between the women is beautiful, as are the women themselves, and the addition of a lover and a husband makes for some intriguing twists that kept me wanting to see what would happen next. However, much of what does happen next makes very little sense, and it made me realize how underdeveloped and illogical most of the characters actually are. This movie is still interesting from a cultural or historical viewpoint, since it's one of the earliest Asian films to deal with homosexuality in such a straightforward manner, but beyond that I can't strongly recommend it.

    This 1964 Japanese film is about an obsessive lesbian relationship that develops between two art students. The initial love between the women is beautiful, as are the women themselves, and the addition of a lover and a husband makes for some intriguing twists that kept me wanting to see what would happen next. However, much of what does happen next makes very little sense, and it made me realize how underdeveloped and illogical most of the characters actually are. This movie is still interesting from a cultural or historical viewpoint, since it's one of the earliest Asian films to deal with homosexuality in such a straightforward manner, but beyond that I can't strongly recommend it.

  • Aug 01, 2008

    Interesting. Someone along the lines of Ai No Corrida

    Interesting. Someone along the lines of Ai No Corrida

  • Jul 29, 2008

    Oh that Mitsuko! If you like your lovers constantly conniving and horrifyingly manipulative, you'll love Mitsuko. I won't spoil any of her surprises, but she doesn't disappoint! The storyline is sort of like a Japanese Peyton Place gone berserk, centered Mitsuko's sociopathic seduction of an unhappily married woman and later of her hapless husband, accomplished through a series of ingeniously warped mind games. Mitsuko has her own problems, however, with another lover who not only traps his rivals in humilating situations, he gets them to sign legal documents testifying to the facts! Yet he's no Mitsuko, and by the end, her single-minded need to be loved and worshipped reaches an astonishing level. Masumara packs a lot of hysteria, scheming, eroticism, and obsession into ninety minutes. It all points toward the characters' self-destruction, which feels both inevitable and deserved. I enjoyed the descent into Mitsuko-obsession, beginning in whispers, then scandal, then screaming, and then turning so intense that the characters can no longer even function in society. Perhaps what I remember most about the movie, as much as all the crazed declarations, fantastic dresses, and twisted uses of sleep medication, is the part of Mitsuko's maid, who must have the most unusual domestic servant duties on earth. Ah, to serve Mitsuko!

    Oh that Mitsuko! If you like your lovers constantly conniving and horrifyingly manipulative, you'll love Mitsuko. I won't spoil any of her surprises, but she doesn't disappoint! The storyline is sort of like a Japanese Peyton Place gone berserk, centered Mitsuko's sociopathic seduction of an unhappily married woman and later of her hapless husband, accomplished through a series of ingeniously warped mind games. Mitsuko has her own problems, however, with another lover who not only traps his rivals in humilating situations, he gets them to sign legal documents testifying to the facts! Yet he's no Mitsuko, and by the end, her single-minded need to be loved and worshipped reaches an astonishing level. Masumara packs a lot of hysteria, scheming, eroticism, and obsession into ninety minutes. It all points toward the characters' self-destruction, which feels both inevitable and deserved. I enjoyed the descent into Mitsuko-obsession, beginning in whispers, then scandal, then screaming, and then turning so intense that the characters can no longer even function in society. Perhaps what I remember most about the movie, as much as all the crazed declarations, fantastic dresses, and twisted uses of sleep medication, is the part of Mitsuko's maid, who must have the most unusual domestic servant duties on earth. Ah, to serve Mitsuko!

  • Mar 22, 2008

    A stunning piece of tasteful lesbian melodrama involving a bored wife and her infatuous love affair with another woman, which ultimately goes way out of control as the offended husband & other smouldering revelations only adds to the ever evolving, unpredictable and complex story of desire, obsession, deceipt & disaster. This is no ordinary, run-of-the-mill, love story; this is no tedious soapdrama where you can predict the ending five minutes into the opening. The direction is clever with the script, and doesn't allow the audience a chance to sit back and think "I know what will happen next..." There are twists aplenty: some work, some don't. At times you will love or loathe the three protaganists. Director Masumara, doesn't want you to feel loyal or supportive to any one particular character, thus pulling your emotions all over the place. The film does cover a lesbian theme, but fortunately the love scenes are tastefully done, erotic rather explicit. You're allowed to let you imagination fill in the blanks rather than having it glorified in your face. I have also seen the 2006 Japanese remake, and although it follows the same theme, the director has obviously let the studio dictate terms and pushed the lesbian love scenes with explicit nudity (limited somewhat by Japan's censorship laws), rather than letting one's imagination do the work. As a consequence this contemporary offering lacks the soul and spirit of the original. The 1964 version may well be quite hard to track down locally. But is definitely worth the effort Classic and ahead of its time! 4/5

    A stunning piece of tasteful lesbian melodrama involving a bored wife and her infatuous love affair with another woman, which ultimately goes way out of control as the offended husband & other smouldering revelations only adds to the ever evolving, unpredictable and complex story of desire, obsession, deceipt & disaster. This is no ordinary, run-of-the-mill, love story; this is no tedious soapdrama where you can predict the ending five minutes into the opening. The direction is clever with the script, and doesn't allow the audience a chance to sit back and think "I know what will happen next..." There are twists aplenty: some work, some don't. At times you will love or loathe the three protaganists. Director Masumara, doesn't want you to feel loyal or supportive to any one particular character, thus pulling your emotions all over the place. The film does cover a lesbian theme, but fortunately the love scenes are tastefully done, erotic rather explicit. You're allowed to let you imagination fill in the blanks rather than having it glorified in your face. I have also seen the 2006 Japanese remake, and although it follows the same theme, the director has obviously let the studio dictate terms and pushed the lesbian love scenes with explicit nudity (limited somewhat by Japan's censorship laws), rather than letting one's imagination do the work. As a consequence this contemporary offering lacks the soul and spirit of the original. The 1964 version may well be quite hard to track down locally. But is definitely worth the effort Classic and ahead of its time! 4/5

  • Dec 13, 2007

    A beautifully told story. I really enjoyed this film.

    A beautifully told story. I really enjoyed this film.

  • Nov 14, 2007

    Not Masumura's best, certanily in the light of the brilliant Tanizaki novel. But I love Ayako Wakao. But check out fabulous Seisaku's Wife, gripping Red Angel (both b/w) or the colourwise very experimental Tattoo. Masumura is a gem to discover.

    Not Masumura's best, certanily in the light of the brilliant Tanizaki novel. But I love Ayako Wakao. But check out fabulous Seisaku's Wife, gripping Red Angel (both b/w) or the colourwise very experimental Tattoo. Masumura is a gem to discover.