Skip to main content

Jigoku or The Sinner's of Hell

From Blogger

The horror movie challenge has been derailed, but this isn't really a surprise. I often don't have the time to watch one movie/day and the weekends have been rather busy lately. Now I have several work related meetings to prep for that I anticipate with further dip into my free time. Gone are those days when I had very little to do at my day job and no friends to spend time with when not at work and I'm not complaining. In fact, I'm surprised at the number of movies I have managed to see by day 14.

Jigoku (1960) was a little slow and completely dumbfounding, but as illustrated in the above still, it looked amazing. Having just been to Never Let Me Go, a film that director Romanek admits to basing the look on classic Japanese cinema, I was pleasantly surprised to have stumbled upon another film shot in a similar perspective that that used by Ozu. These early Japanese films are shot from a low angle and I hadn't picked up on that, but then it became so obvious why this point of view is so different from Western cinema. The Japanese sit upon the floor and thus, they must instinctively see the world from this lower view point. The other element concerning the look of Jigoku was it comes across as a bit of an exploitation film, or pinku film, but also took much care in setting up very cinematographic shots. So while the journey this film takes feels a little long, there is plenty to look at along the way and the film was instructive about the nature of Japanese horror.

My first question was about hell. As explained in the film, Buddhist does have hell which is graphically depicted in Japanese hell scrolls. Japanese hell sounds pretty complex, with multiple levels and it ruled by deities of Japanese folklore that predates the arrival of Buddhism, but what was really surprising was the belief that eternal entrappment in a place of suffering is not punishment for evil deeds committed in life. I couldn't figure out why Shiro Shimizu was in hell. Sure, Shiro was in the car when Tamura* ran over the yakuza man and he was also in the same car accident that killed his girlfriend, but it was odd that he ended up in hell. So apparently, hell can happen to anyone, even the moral and good people. Who knew?

Probably, listening to the commentaries that accompanied the Criterion edition was the most fascinating and informative part of this experience. The film was in fact based upon some specific hell scrolls and I greatly enjoyed listening to the actors and other filmmakers discuss the film. Kiyoshi Kurasawa pointed out some interesting differences between Western and Japanese horror, like in Japanese horror is more based on just the existence of spirits. The evil, scary figures in Japanese horror don't actually do anything to the protagonists. The horror is more about atmosphere. Anyway, interesting observation.

Last night's movie wasn't horror, but a survey of Oz-sploitation pictures, Not Quite Hollywood. I hadn't intended to watch the whole thing, but it was rather intriguing and potentially helpful for choosing horror movies. I've seen very little genre cinema from Australia, so it was nothing but informative. Just from the small selection of Australian cinema I have seen, I knew that it tended towards extremely quirky and sometimes downright silly, but I've never stumbled upon the outrageous films discussed in NQH. What was most amazing was the car genre. Now that I know how car chases and crashes have been filmed in Australia, I'll never be able to watch Mad Max again without wincing and wondering how many broken bones resulted in every shot.

Tally: 10

* For Nate, Tamura may be derived from the verb tamuke, meaning to make an offering to a deity/spirit or to make a tribute for someone about to depart. And Shiro, from shiroi (white) apparently directly translates to "good guy".

From Blogger


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Horror?

From Blogger I apparently have no clue what a horror movie is. Or at least, when the challenge rolls around and I take the leap and attempt to watch 31 horror movies, I suddenly feel as if I have no idea what that means. There are times when it is obvious that a movie is horror; Friday the 13th, Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre . Once I dive into the challenge, I begin to question whether the movies I'm seeing really count. This year, I've seen Buried, Carrie, Clean, Shaven, Nosferatu (1922), Scanners, Sisters , and I sell the Dead . Nate protested Sisters, saying DePalma's movie about a pair of disturbed Siamese twins isn't a horror movie. And he has a point, but how is one supposed to choose movies without having seen them before to really know whether they are horror? Especially since I'm only using the challenge to catch up on movies that I should see because they are classics and to re-watch a few others that need to be revisited. But picking the

My attempt at Filmspotting's Top 5 List

I just finished listening to Filmspotting podcast, episode #296, and I've been inspired to begin a small project. My concept of great cinema has changed now that I live in a place with so many choices. When I lived in Anchorage, I primarily saw movies at the local Art House, Capri Cinema. Rand, being an out gay man, tended to show a lot of GLBT cinema as well as the better known independent/art house films. The years I lived in Columbia, I watched more mainstream film and really, just about everything that came to town that sounded at all interesting. But in Seattle, the choices are overwhelming by comparison. Sometimes I'll see a classic film, or a film with a lot of buzz, and there are a lot of foreign language films, because of the wide variety of cinema I have access to, I am now a very devoted fan of Asian cinema. The filmmakers in Hong Kong, Korea, China, Japan, Thailand are incredible. And this isn't at all limited to the genre films that have made Asian film

Dennis Nyback's Super Secret Pre-Code Musical Lallapalooza Big Magilla Thrilla Festival, Friday

Currently, at T he Grand Illusion Cinema , Dennis Nyback is presenting a different program each night as Dennis Nyback's Super Secret Pre-Code Musical Lallapalooza Big Magilla Thrilla Festival and I was able to attend the first night. The films were not announced in advance, but on Friday, they were all from 1930 and presented as they would have been at that time, beginning with a newsreel, trailer, animated short, a short film and finally the feature. I will just admit now that I am not knowledgeable of film history. Essentially, my film school has occurred in the cinemas at movies that are current, with the exception of an occasional archival screening, but thanks, in part, to The Celluloid Closet, I am a bit familiar with the Hollywood's history of self-censorship via the Hays Code and today, with the MPAA rating system. And it has been interesting to read about what had to be taken out of scripts, if a movie were to be produced post 1934. I was aware that homosexuality wa