Hotaru / Suzuki Seijun

M Arnold ma_iku
Wed Apr 4 22:58:50 EDT 2001

Good Morning!  Finally it's starting to feel like spring around here.

I had planned to go do some flower viewing last Saturday and when I left the 
apartment in the morning it was snowing!  I thought I would go over to the 
Film Center and see one of those old Chinese films instead, but the series 
hadn't started yet and the center was closed.  I was a week too early for 
"2001" too.  So after walking back and forth in the slush all day I ended up 
catching the 6:00 show of "Hotaru" at Teatoru Shinjuku.  (I was going to see 
"Kawachi Carmen" that night anyway.)  Originally I wasn't going to see 
Kawase's new film; I was a little turned off by Yoshimoto Banana's comments 
on the flyer, among other things.  At this point I'm glad that I went, and 
the film did exceed my expectations, but I thought the story was only so-so. 
  I noticed Aaron Gerow's review in this morning's paper but I haven't seen 
a lot of discussion about the movie elsewhere.  Have any other members here 
seen it?  What did you think?

I thought the film was composed well, visually it was impressive and the 
supporting characters were interesting, but the protagonist puzzled me.  
Maybe I still have to wash the flavor of "Kao" out of my mouth and maybe I'm 
looking at it too simplistically, but how was Ayako trying to relate to her 
various past and present traumas?  Were we encouraged to identify with her?  
At times she seemed to just be along for the ride, and I'm almost 
embarrassed to admit that in several scenes I was tempted to interpret it as 
the cliche of a traumatized, hysteric woman who needs a good man to slap 
some sense into her (even though she's a nude dancer?), but I hope I can get 
some insight from you folks that will help me understand it differently.

The club strip scenes seemed very sterile to me.  Or was that the point?  
With the police raid and other similarities I was reminded of "Ichijo 
Sayuri," and the way that the 1972 film, while not trying to show quite as 
much (though perhaps more of the audience), gave a very energetic 'show'.  
"Hotaru" was almost robotic, and when the women dancers lifted up their 
skirts it felt entirely appropriate that they revealed nothing but a pale 
blur.  It was an interesting contrast to watch Suzuki's "Carmen" immediately 
afterwards too.  In all honesty I was more moved by the corny break-up scene 
with Carmen and her "housewife" than I was by the relationships in "Hotaru." 
  I found myself thinking back to "A Woman Under the Influence" as well.

There are flyers being passed out at Teatoru Shinjuku for some (real) strip 
show audition with Kawase and Araki Nobuyoshi, among others, acting as 

The previous weekend I went to "Koroshi no Rakuin" on the first night of the 
Suzuki Seijun retrospective at the same theater.  It was a full house, and 
there were a lot of media people present.  There was a short talk show with 
Aoyama Shinji, Suzuki, and briefly Mari Annu and one other actor from the 
film (sorry, I forgot his name).  Aoyama kept trying to ask difficult 
questions and Suzuki kept trying to change the subject and talk about how 
pretty Japanese women are. "Koroshi" was supposed to be a 35mm "new print" 
(as are many of the films in the retro) but frankly I didn't think it looked 
much better than the old print of Carmen that was shown the next week.  
Still it was a lot of fun.  Does anyone want to join me for the all-nighter 
this Saturday?

Finally, this is unrelated but I rented "Nitrate Kisses" from the Shibuya 
Tsutaya last weekend and it was not censored one bit.

Mike Arnold

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