Saw a Takashi Miike picture called The Great Yokai War. "Yokai" is a Japanese term for monsters from folklore, as opposed to the more familiar kaiju. It's a kids' picture, about a young boy from Tokyo sent out to live in the countryside with his older sister and his intermittently senile grandfather. When a vengeful spirit appears, the boy gets caught up in a war between warring groups of yokai and must find his courage to become the "Kirin Rider", the hero who will set everything to rights. It's not a bad picture - nothing deep, but an amusing story. Some of the yokai are really trippy, Japanese folklore can get pretty "out there", apparently.

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This is Mary Steenburgen twenty-three years after Back to the Future Part III at age 60. She almost as timeless as Diane Lane or Cate Blanchett.

P.S. I'm sorry for the size of these pictures but I can never judge pixels! ;-)

Diane Lane was probably carded until she was 40.

Last night I watched Jamaica Inn (1939). This is an adaptation of a Daphne Du Maurier novel, and Alfred Hitchcock's last British film before he went to Hollywood. It can be found at Internet Archive. I thought it was OK. Apparently it's often criticised, but to my mind calling it bad would be ridiculous (but bear in mind I have a lot of tolerance for 30s British films).

The film is about a gang of wreckers in early 19th century Cornwall. Some online reviewers knock Charles Laughton's performance as hammy, but I think it makes the film more colourful. The heroine and hero are played by Maureen O'Hara and Robert Newton. Both their parts are under-written, which might be the film's biggest weakness. Newton had the right demeanour for a romantic lead at this stage of his career and is too obviously the film's hero when he first appears, working undercover as a member of the gang. The film-makers and actors do a good job of individualising several members of the gang: I particularly liked Emlyn Williams's performance. I would've liked more romance between the hero and heroine and thought the sequence where the heroine discovers her uncle's villainy poorly handled. Leslie Banks has the right demeanour as the uncle, and does a good job in his death scene. The strongest sequence comes early in the film, when the gang wreck a ship and then murder its survivors.

This post displaced the thread Captain Comics - The New Look from the home page.

I looked this up on IMDB and discovered that they are making a TV miniseries in the UK based upon her book. It's supposed to be out in 2014. I tell everyone who will listen that her short story The Birds is more terrifying in its way than Hitchcock's movie in that it is implied that the attacks are worldwide, not just a single town. Like Psycho, the general public thinks Hitchcock wrote the story.

Luke Blanchard said:

Last night I watched Jamaica Inn (1939). This is an adaptation of a Daphne Du Maurier novel, and Alfred Hitchcock's last British film before he went to Hollywood.

In the late '80s I did a film studies course (purely out of interest since I had already finished my degree), completely devoted to HItchcock. We watched a good deal of his movies, from the silents right to his last movies. THE DARK SIDE OF GENIUS: THE LIFE OF ALFRED HITCHCOCK, by Donald Spoto, served as our text. While this book might be a bit slanted, at the back of the book you have a good run down of the production on each movie.

Then in the early '90s, I was living relatively close to a video rental store which specialized in classic movies and they had every single Hitchcock movie on VHS, so I rented all of those and watched them in chronological order.

Hitchcock's usual practice was to sit with the screenplay writer and hash out the script at his house. So although he wasn't credited as a writer on most of his movies--alll of the scripts had his input and he had final say on the screenplays for his movies.

But for all the horrors behind the scenes, I would say that THE BIRDS was one of his masterpieces. Since movies can't be like books, I think the approach of showing one town and letting that represent the world on the whole is a good one. You do get the sense by the end that this horror is potentially occuring everywhere else and I think that's effective. Because what you don't see and are allowed to imagine is more haunting than what you do see.

Jimmm Kelly said:

In the late '80s I did a film studies course (purely out of interest since I had already finished my degree), completely devoted to HItchcock. We watched a good deal of his movies, from the silents right to his last movies. THE DARK SIDE OF GENIUS: THE LIFE OF ALFRED HITCHCOCK, by Donald Spoto, served as our text. While this book might be a bit slanted, at the back of the book you have a good run down of the production on each movie.

Then in the early '90s, I was living relatively close to a video rental store which specialized in classic movies and they had every single Hitchcock movie on VHS, so I rented all of those and watched them in chronological order.

Hitchcock's usual practice was to sit with the screenplay writer and hash out the script at his house. So although he wasn't credited as a writer on most of his movies--alll of the scripts had his input and he had final say on the screenplays for his movies.

But for all the horrors behind the scenes, I would say that THE BIRDS was one of his masterpieces. Since movies can't be like books, I think the approach of showing one town and letting that represent the world on the whole is a good one. You do get the sense by the end that this horror is potentially occuring everywhere else and I think that's effective. Because what you don't see and are allowed to imagine is more haunting than what you do see.

I have a book lying around the house somewhere that I haven't finished reading, Me and Hitch by Evan Hunter, scriptwriter of The Birds, describing his experience working with Alfred Hitchcock on making the movie. Hunter was an insanely prolific writer, under his own name and under his more famous pen name Ed McBain, which he reserved for crime stories such as the long-running 87th Precinct series. I remember that Hunter said The Birds the movie had the barest connection to the short story that inspired it; all Hitchcock was interested in was the notion of a fishing village being attacked by birds. As for the rest of the original story, he wouldn't have used it for toilet paper.

Here's an interview with Hunter from MysteryNet.com about the experience: "Writing for Hitchcock: An Interview with Ed McBain"

 

I'm watching the Samurai Trilogy, a trio of Japanese films from 1954-56 adapting the 1935 novel Musashi, about the historical swordsman Musashi Miyamoto. Hiroshi Inagaki directs and Toshiro Mifune plays Miyamoto.

The two I've watched so far remind me of the Lone Wolf and Cub movies I've seen, particularly the second which portrays Miyamoto as an intense but self-denying loner and has several set-piece fight scenes, including a climax in which he's ambushed by eighty men and has to fight his way clear. Possibly the trilogy was an influence on the comics series. The trilogy's storyline is also somewhat like that of martial arts movies where the protagonist is on a quest to reach the pinnacle of his art and has to master himself spiritually to do so.

The films are in colour and look good, with much attractive nature photography. The first was given the 1955 Academy Honorary Award for Best Foreign Language Film. I think it's not as good as Seven Samurai, which also dates from 1954, but Seven Samurai was nominated for the 1957 Oscars, so apparently it was longer before it got the necessary release in the US.



Luke Blanchard said:

I'm watching the Samurai Trilogy, a trio of Japanese films from 1954-56 adapting the 1935 novel Musashi, about the historical swordsman Musashi Miyamoto. Hiroshi Inagaki directs and Toshiro Mifune plays Miyamoto.

The two I've watched so far remind me of the Lone Wolf and Cub movies I've seen, particularly the second which portrays Miyamoto as an intense but self-denying loner and has several set-piece fight scenes, including a climax in which he's ambushed by eighty men and has to fight his way clear. Possibly the trilogy was an influence on the comics series. The trilogy's storyline is also somewhat like that of martial arts movies where the protagonist is on a quest to reach the pinnacle of his art and has to master himself spiritually to do so.

The films are in colour and look good, with much attractive nature photography. Apparently the first won the 1955 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. I think it's not as good as Seven Samurai, which also dates from 1954, but Seven Samurai was nominated for the 1957 Oscars, so apparently it was longer before it got the necessary release in the US.

 I've got a copy of these somewhere, I should dig them out and look at them again.  Musashi is the epic badass of Japanese history. Supposedly, in later life, he grew so bored of the lack of challenging opposition that he stopped using a sword and starting using any object that was handy instead. Legend has it that he once used an oar to defeat an opponent!  The sister ship of the more-famous Yamato was named Musashi and the Pokemon characters known in English as "Jesse" and "James" of Team Rocket are called in Japan "Kojiro" and "Musashi" after Musashi and his greatest rival.

 

 

Thanks, Baron. There's a bit in the first movie where he's hanging from the tree and the priest admonishes him "A man must know awe, and fear God. Conceited in your strength, you ignored wisdom and virtue. You thought you could defeat the world. Look at yourself! Wisdom and strong virtues combined, make a man. Understand?" (Translation from DVD subtitles: full stops added.) I took this to be intended as a reflection on Japan's behaviour leading up to and during WWII, but I could be mistaken as it fits the story and for all I know might come directly out of the book.

My previous encounter with Miyamoto was in the Kitty Pryde and Wolverine mini. Wolverine tells a story about how the young Miyamoto met another warrior, who may have been the mini's villain, and their duel consisted entirely in the crossing of their wills, which revealed to them they were evenly matched.

Am I wrong to call him Miyamoto rather than Musashi? From what I can tell Miyamoto is the surname, but there might still be some reason it's incorrect.

Getting back to Hitch for a second, he had these idées fixes--and it was like a compulsion for him to see these scenes exactly represented on film. There is usually in every movie some key visual that he's driven to recreate--as a way of getting it out of his system, I guess.

"Miyamoto" is the family name, but for whatever reason, he's tpyically referred to as "Musashi".  Japanese naming conventions of the time were fairly complex - a boy might have a "childhood name", an "adult name" and a posthumous Buddhist name. Furthermore, a man of accomplishments might have one or more titles which might be used as though they were a name. It is further complicated by the fact that Japanese has a number of characters that can be pronounced more than one way. It's not always immediately obvious to the Japanese themselves how a given character is meant to be pronounced in a given situation.

 

Musashi himself  at one point gave his name as "Shinmen Musashi-no-Kami Fujiwara no Genshin".   "Miyamoto" is the name of the village he is supposed to have been born in, "Shinmen" is his actual family name."Musashi-no-Kami" was a sort of court title, and "Fujiwara"  was an ancient family that Musashi claimed descent from, a bit like claiming descent from nobility.  As a child, he was known as "Bennosuke", and he is also sometimes known as "Takezo", which is an alternate reading of "Musashi".  His Buddhist name was "Niten Doraku".  Generally, I'd say, just call him "Musashi".

Thanks again.

Jimmm, I don't know to what extent Jamaica Inn was a personal project for Hitchcock. Reportedly Laughton was a producer and imposed choices on him, including Maureen O'Hara's casting. On the other hand, Hitchcock's first Hollywood film was Rebecca, also based on a Du Maurier novel (but I don't know if the choice of subject was Hitchcock's or producer David O Selznik's), and Jamaica Inn is to an extent a threatened woman film, like Rebecca, Suspicion and Under Capricorn. One bit that struck me as typically Hitchcockian was a sequence where the heroine wakes up in a cave and finds the hero, who she has only just met and doesn't trust, asleep next to her.

 

The first version of this post displaced the thread 30 Days of Night Omnibus, Vol. 2 from the home page.

(corrected)

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