WIT Life #139: 60′s Japan film festival
On Friday night I attended a free screening of the movie Yearning, which was being shown as part of the Japanese Cinema 1960′s film series at Asia Society. This organization is co-sponsoring the event along with Japan Foundation, and they have been offering complimentary tickets to the five films that were being shown over a span of a little over a month. You had to sign up ahead of time by indicating which film you wanted tickets for and officially you could only pick one, but when I went there was a stand-by line so if you go early on the day of the show you are likely to get in even without tickets.
Although Yearning was the English title of the movie, it came from the Japanese title of 乱れる (midareru), literally meaning to fall into disorder, be confused or be entangled. I think in the context of the movie the last translation is probably the closest, or alternatively the loose translation of ”coming apart.” It depicts a family running a general store and their struggles amidst new competition from the big supermarket underselling all the local businesses in the neighborhood. The story focuses on the central character of Reiko, who was married to the oldest son before he was killed during the war.
The movie begins with the return of the prodigal son Koji, who was only 7 when she joined the family. However, at 25 he now an adult with a long-lived crush on his sister-in-law. Will they take their forbidden love to the next level, and will the family business survive? Finding out how these issues will be resolved definitely keeps viewers’ attention, but at times the melodrama was a bit much. Though I do have to admit that the ryokan scene was very natsukashii!
The remaining movie to be shown this week is The Fort of Death, described as ”a Japanese version of a B-Western.” Check it out if you can this Friday night at 6:45!