Marco Bellocchio’s 1965 film is open to interpretation, so this week we spend the episode suggesting, then dismantling, various interpretive theories. The story of a wealthy family with physical and mental disorders, and the one son who decided to kill them all, Fists in the Pocket is a bit of a mess and a bit innovative and mostly reminds us of a lot of better films.
Movie three in the Rebel Samurai boxset is Masahiro Shinoda’s Samurai Spy, the 1965 Le Carre-ian Cold War espionage film that happens to take place in the political turmoil of the early part of the 17th century in Japan. Also the main character is a traditional Japanese folk hero who the audience should know about but that’s not at all important until it is very, very, incredibly very important to understand the plot in the last ten minutes of the movie. We talk cold war politics, historical analogues, and secret knowledge on this week’s Lost in Criterion.
Number two in the Rebel Samurai boxset is Hideo Gosha’s 1965 Sword of the Beast, also known as — as Pat delightfully points out — Samurai Gold Seekers. Donovan H. joins us again as we talk more about Samurai mythos deconstruction and economic systems of the past! Hurray!
We had a good run with Seijun Suzuki, but like most heroes, eventually you find something you have to step back from.
While much of the message of Story of the Prostitute is similar to and on par with the anti-militarism, anti-toxic masculinity themes of his great Fighting Elegy, the framing element here leaves quite a bit to be desired about the true nature of Japan's history with so called "Comfort Women". Historically these women were (mostly) kidnapped and forced into prostitution for the army, but in focusing his themes against militarism Seijun allows for the cultural myth that the Comfort Women were all willing, even patriotic, volunteers to settle in. Still by no means does he present their lives as pleasant or good, so...what do we do with a very progressive message that is not as progressive as it could, and should, be.
In any case this is the most ideologically complex of Seijun's films that we've seen, and it's the last in the collection at this time, which means we've got at least 646 episodes before we see him again.
Apparently Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune did not end their relationship on the best of terms, but if they had to part ways fighting, they still managed one heck of a film, but then could either ever make a bad film? Red Beard, from 1965, is not only the two greats' final collaboration, but also Kurosawa's finally black and white film. That probably makes it special, too, right?
In this week's episode I blatantly steal John Hodgman's brilliant joke about the four elemental hockeys -- much to Pat's confusion -- and forget to credit him. I meant to, I swear, but the conversation got away from me. I'm sorry. Anyway, I'll count it as turnabout for the time he published a picture I took in a book (That Is All, Figure 141, Page 827) and then accidentally credited someone else for it. He has since graciously fixed my copy, and so I have to fix my own citation issue.
Now that that's out of the way.
Kon Ichikawa was hired by the Japanese government to film the 1964 Tokyo Summer Games and the film he turned is in brilliant, agonizing, hilarious, so very, very, very human, and generally hated -- at least initially -- by his bosses. Tokyo Olympiad (1965) is perhaps -- and I think fellow non-sports buff Mr. Hodgman may agree -- the greatest sports documentary ever made.
If you've listened to any of our early episodes concerning her roles, you're no doubt aware that Pat and I love Giulietta Masina, long time wife and part time love interest of Federico Fellini. After the success of the great 8 1/2, Fellini decided to do some more navel gazing in 1965 with Juliet of the Spirits, but this time the author avatar character would be gender-flipped and played by Masina.
It seems that Masina did not enjoy playing the female version of her husband, as rumor has it that the fights on set between star and director got so intense that friends were sure they'd divorce. They didn't, though that is certainly due to circumstances outside of the film, which flopped. And probably for good reason.
We're headed back to Czechoslovakia this week for a few rounds with prolific Czech director Milos Forman. First up is Loves of a Blonde, Forman's 1965 comedy about a working class girl in need of...distraction. It's possibly the best known film of the Czech New Wave, and for good reason.
Ján Kadár and Elmar Klos's The Shop on Main Street (1965) is an incredible film, one of my favorites we've seen so far in this project. Set against the backdrop of the Nazi aryanization of Czechoslovakia during World War II, Main Street is a tale of willful ignorance and the dangers of pretending everything is fine.
In 1965 Jean-Luc Godard took an established film-noir detective character and shoved him into a dystopian future city ruled by an authoritarian computer that runs everything on cold logic while quoting Borges' poetry about the nature of myth and maintaining the most inefficient public execution system in history. Alphaville is weird. It's disjointed. It's baffling.