A movie log formerly known as Bookishness / By Charles Matthews

"Dazzled by so many and such marvelous inventions, the people of Macondo ... became indignant over the living images that the prosperous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theater with the lion-head ticket windows, for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience, who had paid two cents apiece to share the difficulties of the actors, would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats. The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outbursts of the audience. With that discouraging explanation many ... decided not to return to the movies, considering that they already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings."
--Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Monday, February 26, 2018

The Inheritance (Masaki Kobayashi, 1962)

Keiko Kishi in The Inheritance
Yasuko Miyagawa: Keiko Kishi
Senzo Kawahara: So Yamamura
Kikuo Furukawa: Tatsuya Nakadai
Satoe Kawahara: Misako Watanabe
Naruto Yoshida: Seiji Miyaguchi
Junichi Fujii: Minoru Chiaki
Mariko: Mari Yoshimura
Sadao: Yusuke Kawazu

Director: Masaki Kobayashi
Screenplay: Koichi Inagaki
Based on a novel by Norio Najo
Cinematography: Takashi Kawamata
Art direction: Shigemasa Toda
Film editing: Keiichi Uraoka
Music: Toru Takemitsu

Looking as chic and mysterious as Anouk Aimée, Delphine Seyrig, or Monica Vitti ever did in the French and Italian films of the era, Yasuko Miyagawa steps from her car, dons her sunglasses, and goes for a bit of window-shopping. But in front of a jewelry store window, she is stopped by a man she once knew. She agrees to join him in a cafe, where the flashback that constitutes most of Masaki Kobayashi's The Inheritance unfolds in her narrative. When they knew each other, she was a secretary and he was a lawyer for the wealthy businessman Senzo Kawahara, and both of them had key roles in determining who would benefit from Kawahara's will. The rest is a noir fable, based on the oldest of plot premises: Where there's a will, there are people scheming to benefit from it. Upon learning that he has cancer and only a short while to live, Kawahara set his managers the task of locating his illegitimate children: He and his wife, Satoe, have none from their marriage. And in the search for the heirs, even the searchers are prone to make deals with the potential legatees. By law, Satoe stands to inherit a third of her husband's 300 million yen estate, but she of course wants more, which means making sure that none of her husband's offspring earns his favor. And then there are the offspring, some of whom have adoptive families that would benefit from being included in the will, while others have come of age and want to curry favor with the father they've never met. No holds are barred: not only fraud but also murder and rape. But mainly the film is the story of Yasuko, beautifully played by Keiko Kishi, transforming from the self-effacing secretary into the consummate schemer, motivated at least as much by revenge as by greed. It's a nasty tale, but an involving one.

No comments: