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PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2009 2:58 am 
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You'll absolutely hate Pitfall.

Well, I just want you to not be too disappointed. 8-)

I think Woman of the Dunes would be a lot stronger if the really inane attempted voyeur rape sequence was taken out. It is an astonishingly bad stretch of filmmaking in an otherwise very tightly filmed work, going on for too long and imposing an unrelated taiko track obviously intended to play with the audience's mixed sexual tensions, and then ultimately falling victim to badly overacted and therefore false exhaustion, injury and despair. I can't help but feel that this weak physical acting is something that lingers in a lot of Japanese film of the era. One could delete this scene and at worst it wouldn't matter - there's really no dramatic excuse for including an attempted public rape, and Teshigahara's approach offers nothing compelling as justification. I get the sense that it was filmed almost with embarrassment.

I expect there are a bunch of film school essays about this being a question of "audience as implicit rapist" and "audience as captor" and a bunch of other bullshit designed to turn this into something more refined, but I don't find those ideas very interesting because this stretch of the film itself is so crudely blunt. This film is already self conscious enough without needing to get so banal.

I feel strongly about this because the film otherwise really moves me. The closeups of the grains of sand in their pores come to my mind spontaneously on a regular basis.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2009 9:54 am 
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Holy shit, "Antonio Gaudí" is playing at New York City's Paris Theater through tomorrow (June 11th).

Going to catch me a Teshigahara movie on a big screen; screw "Pitfall." :)


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2009 10:29 am 
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bunuelian wrote:
You'll absolutely hate Pitfall.

Hey, hey, hey, hold your horses there, pal. What's to say that he'll hate Pitfall? He loved the other two Teshigaharas in the set, as do I, maybe he'll love Pitfall, as do I. It's a harsh, bleak, and very funny little existential noir that may not tie up it's loose ends in a way that's to everybody's liking, but there are at least two dozen absolutely perfect shots that I wouldn't want to withhold from any cinephile for the world. Disappointment shouldn't even enter into it. Telling him he'll hate Pitfall is nearly as bad (and ridiculous) as telling someone who's just loved The Grand Illusion and The Rules of the the Game that he'll hate La Bete humaine.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2009 11:03 am 
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Maybe I need to put my jokes in big colorful letters.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2009 1:20 pm 
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Ladies, please! Be nice. :wink:

I will track down and watch "Pitfall" and the short films. After watching the other two Teshigahara movies (plus "Antonio Gaudí" later today) and seeing clips of "Pitfall" in the Criterion video diaries for "Woman..." and "Face..." my interest is piqued. My mind is open for "Pitfall" to impress or disappoint on its own and I, like bunuelian, should start making funny quotes around my "jokes" (screw "Pitfall" = joke) just for them not to be confused with the deadly serious business of talking about movies on the internet. :-"


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2009 1:33 pm 
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Pitall is good, sometimes very good, but it's very clearly the lesser of the other two. There are some really great moments in the film, but it doesn't mesh into a complete, whole film.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2009 2:20 pm 
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bunuelian wrote:
Maybe I need to put my jokes in big colorful letters.

Sorry, I don't speak smilie. Sometimes it's a bit of a handicap in understanding internet humor.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2009 5:16 pm 
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kaujot wrote:
Pitall is good, sometimes very good, but it's very clearly the lesser of the other two. There are some really great moments in the film, but it doesn't mesh into a complete, whole film.

I don't agree with that at all-- I'm not clear why youthink it doesn't mesh into a whole film. Pitfall is of course a different species from the more blatantly, highly stylized Face of Another & Woman of the Dunes.. yet what it doesn't convey with openly avant visuals it successfully manages to trigger in mind the fully engaged viewer. It's a hugely original, yet magically subtle film filled with loaded, haunted silences, with lots of inhabitable breathing room not typically resident in the subsequent two high volume titles. I don't see this a Teshigihara "on the road to" Woman of the Dunes and/or Face of Another (both of which I think, vs one another, are two entirely different films stylistically)-- it's Teshigi in a completely different place vs the other two. As a matter of fact I could see this film following -- rather than preceding--the other two, as a refinement, a paring down of the louder style of the other two.

In a side note, I wonder whether Teshigi was at all influenced-- or simply saw-- a noirish 1941 melodrama film by Robert Florey.. a B programmer from Columbia called The Face Behind The Mask. In it Peter Lorre plays a skilled tradesman who immigrates to NYC/America from Hungary; not long after arriving, his SRO hotel goes up in flames & burns to the ground due to the carelessness of a guy, another hotel occupant, cooking with a hotplate in his room. Lorre's character Janusz, sleeping in his bed when the place goes up, is burnt horribly about his face and body. This formerly wide-eyed, hyper-enthusiastic character, eager to blend in and start working and become a productive Good American so he can bring his wife over, is discharged from the hospital with a face so badly disfigured that most people simply cannot bear to look him square on. His hunt for work is immediately stymied as folks pretty much grow instantly uncomfortable via his presence and make their excuses and discharge themselves before squealing in terror or puking.

After a period of gloomy, unsuccessful wanderings in search of not only a job but normal human contact of any kind, Janusz is ready to nix himself, unable to bear it any longer. He goes over to the East River prepared to jump in; a middle aged gent comes up to him and asks him the time just before Lorre's character is to go over the ledge-- Janusz raises his face to the man who instantly receives a jolt of awful horror by the sight.. and flees, not realizing he's dropped his wallet in his rattled wake.

Out from a pile of shipping crates pops a lowlife petty criminal nicknamed Dinky to both snatch the wallet and stop Lorre who is now on his way over the fence into the drink. He speaks to Lorre square on, and tells him he's been watching him and waiting for him to go over.. asks him why he wants to do it-- when Lorre raises his countenance for the inevitable reaction of horror and explains that nobody can stand to look at his face, Dinky says "I'm lookin' atcha, aint I?"

Lorre's personality undergoes a number of transformations within the film, all based on the effect on him of the world's response to his morphing appearance. Lorre falls in with this low thief, and his group of cohorts-- the only people who will have him without suffering weak hearts-- employing his tradesman's skill with his hands and superior intelligence to nail down big scores for the crew. With the money the group brings in from the robberies they commit-- all conceived by Lorre--Lorre goes to see a plastic surgeon about the possibility of getting his face repaired. I won't give away further plot details, but suffice to say that, as a perhaps interim solution, about 1/4 of the way into the film, Lorre's character gives the doctor a photograph of himself, which the doctor uses to construct a stretchy thin latex-type mask that Lorre then pulls daily over his face to try and appear less hideous to people, where they can at least look him in the eye without retching. To improve the quality of his life.

First of all there is an actual mask of Lorre's face that the art dept actually had created, and its amazing how much it looks like Lorre. You see him hold it in his hand, see it sitting stationary, etc, and it's an incredible job. When Lorre's character 'wears' his mask however, a makeup job is employed to make it look like he's wearing a mask of his own face. Lorre's of course not actually wearing the mask (the same way Nakadai isn't actually wearing a mask in the Teshigi, or the old 1930's Wax Museum, etc), but his face is made slightly lopsided and built up in some areas as if sagging, made to look wrinkled & folded over in others, his hairline is changed and he wears a hairpiece slightly "off" from his own hair-- it's a brilliant effect.

It's not an entirely successful film-- certainly not on the level of The Face of Another-- but in many ways it's very good, considering its quickie B-film pedigree (I'm also a sucker for many of these polished looking Columbia B pictures, particularly from Nick Grinde.. just acquired a copy of The Man With Nine Lives with Karloff-- the Mad Doctor Series-- as well as early Stanwyck in Shopworn, and another Lorre quickie called The Insland of Doomed Men). And in it lay many of the seeds that Teshigihara explored later on in his film-- the effect of ones countenance on the quality of ones own life... the effect of one's countenance on others within the intimate orbit and even those on the superficial circumference of one's life.. and the interior agony cultivated by facing up to the fact that it simply is not possible to modulate the interior self to match the changes wrought upon the exterior so that smooth Dealing With, and easy contention, is possible. A challenge faced every day by the prospect of aging.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2009 5:34 pm 
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I'll watch Pitfall again and get back to you. I was very underwhelmed by it, especially after following it with Face of Another and Woman in the Dunes. Your thought about the refinement of style (even though it was made first) is a very interesting thought indeed. I really was wowed by the latter two, though not just in terms of style.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2009 6:00 pm 
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I've also been on the edge of my seat waiting for the supposedly imminent arrival of a subtitled version of THE MAN WITHOUT A MAP. Will report back when in hand...


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 11, 2009 3:00 am 
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still one of my biggest kevyips...


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 11, 2009 3:49 am 
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Get to it!


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 26, 2009 3:46 am 

Joined: Tue Jun 09, 2009 4:50 pm
I picked up this set a month ago on the recommendation of a dear friend and have watched Pitfall and Woman in the Dunes, which I watched today. Beautiful cinematography, particularly the way the sand is captured on film. The sand almost seems to have a life of its own and, taken with the overall themes in the film, it makes sense that it does.

This is clearly a horror story, as is Teshi's other film that I viewed, Pitfall. A horror story about identity and what it means. Clearly the surface horror comes from being enslaved in a place with no escape. But the questions that Teshi and Kobe ask, those that linger beneath the film's surface, are much more startling and horrifying.

I enjoyed the film, except for the voyeur attempted-rape scene which seemed really out of place.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2009 8:07 pm 
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nm


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 05, 2009 3:25 am 
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Quote:
This is clearly a horror story, as is Teshi's other film that I viewed, Pitfall.


"Pitfall" is not primarily a horror film (if at all), but a workers' film. Teshigahara is dealing with the offensive of capital against the Japanese labour movement in the 50/60s generally and with the great strikes of the Japanese miners in those years in particularly. The basic elements of the story like those two unions and the mysterious murder of an union leader is modelled upon a strike in Miike mine which is said to be "Japan's most serious labour dispute in modern times" and which was lost by the workers after 10 months of struggling.
You have to bear in mind that Teshigahara was working in the context of the Japanese New Left which in Japan gained momentum in the 1950s - that is earlier then in most western countries - campaigning against the US-Japan security treaty and supporting striking workers.
It's generally a pity that the sociopolitical dimension of Teshigahara's work tends to be overseen or marginalized in its western reception. Instead of that readers focus on interpretations being as universal as debatable or focus on the aesthetic dimension only.
I think this may have lead to Criterion's deplorable decision to release "Antonio Gaudi" though I would argue that at least at the moment "Summer Soldiers", a film about American deserters in Japan in the early seventies and the problems of international solidarity, might be his most important film, as it deals with very important and currently contended issues like "immigration", "cultural conflicts", "internationalism and exotism" and so on. It's a very important movie which has unfortunately, as one might say, been produced in a more plain and realist mode and therefore is only available on a rather mediocre Japanese DVD with English subtitles for Japanese parts but not for English parts, which is a pity as many English speakers are non-native speakers and therefore hard to understand.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 05, 2009 10:40 am 
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Wu.Qinghua wrote:
I think this may have lead to Criterion's deplorable decision to release "Antonio Gaudi" though I would argue that at least at the moment "Summer Soldiers", a film about American deserters in Japan in the early seventies and the problems of international solidarity, might be his most important film,...
I too would love it if Criterion released Summer Soldiers, it's a fine film, but it's ridiculous to call an important but risky release like Antonio Gaudi "deplorable" simply because it isn't your favorite film in Teshigahara's oeuvre. Teshigahara himself would have probably taken offense at your insinuation that his art must necessarily always be second priority to his politics. Antonio Gaudi is one of the finest works of art about architecture that exist, and we're all lucky to have it available in such a lovely R1 edition.


Last edited by FerdinandGriffon on Sat Sep 05, 2009 2:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 05, 2009 1:00 pm 
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I was not (edit: did not want to) complaining about "Antonio Gaudi", but about Criterion's choice not to release "Summer Soldiers", which had been released - as well as Pitfall, Woman and Face - as part of the Japanese Asmik box. (I know that the fifth film hadn't even English subtitles ...)

I presumed that this omission could at least in part be attributed to the fact that western audiences tend to focus on somewhat universal interpretations (and sometimes lofty speculations) or on aesthetic questions ("big art") thereby often neglecting the local contexts in which those films where produced and seen. And I thought and still think this especially applies to Teshigahara's movies though I admit I am most familiar with German texts, so this might be different in other countries, though I again doubt this.

I dont want to discuss the question of art vs. politics here, but I think you got me wrong. "Summer Soldiers" is not my favourite Teshigahara's, but it is the one film made by Teshigahara which deals with a lot of crucial and contested issues of today like "immigration", "cultural conflicts", "exotism", the problems and pitfalls of internationalist praxis and so on. So all I wanted to say was that this is the one film that matters most at exactly this conjuncture because it has a lot to tell us, and that it should be seen by in western countries now. At least in my humble opinion ...

But, well and oh, I originally wanted to drop some words on "Pitfall" ... Lol ...


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2011 12:50 pm 
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The Face of Another is certainly the strangest Japanese New Wave film I've seen since Double Suicide. Tatsuya Nakadai pulled me into the movie, though. For the time with the bandages in place, he was rivetting. I was impressed by how well he used his voice to do the acting for him. The encounter with the secretary and his talks with the wife were the memorable parts for me. That voice had just the right amount of hate and bitterness. The sets, especially the psychiatrist's office, were the most fascinating visual element for me. It might seem a little on the nose when Okuyama is standing in front of the wall installation with the ears or behind the facial muscle diagram, but I thought that such strangeness worked and helped me get into his apartness and isolation better than in the photography. The strangeness of those sets is actually what reminded me of Double Suicide. The revelation near the end when Okuyama talked to his wife was great. It figures that she'd be clued into it, but that scene provided the best exposition of the film for me. The restoration of the film also helped incredibly to enjoy the film as much as I did.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 1:39 am 
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Has anyone else had subtitle problems with Pitfall? It seemed like about half the dialogue did not feature subtitles. This resulted in half sentences and a lot of wtf? It's not a dialogue heavy film but there is enough. I thought I was doing okay but by the end I missed too much. Not really sure who the two men are that fight at the end. I've never heard of subtitle problems being something that varies from disc to disc, but I suppose it's possible.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2014 10:49 am 
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This is now listed as OOP on MMM


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2014 11:38 am 
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Haven't there been HD masters of these films on Hulu for a while now? Then this is probably a good sign that a Blu-ray upgrade is coming.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2014 12:13 pm 
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If they were releasing a Blu-ray version of the set, why would the existing DVD set go OOP? Wouldn't it happen just like it did with the Cassavetes sets?


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2014 12:37 pm 
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Unless they were giving it a complete makeover with new special features, though if I recall correctly the old box was more than adequate with its features.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2014 12:41 pm 

Joined: Sun Mar 23, 2014 8:46 am
This is sort of like what happened with the Sternberg set, although of course Criterion mysteriously says that set isn't OOP because you can still buy used copies and unopened copies from Amazon marketplace vendors.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2014 12:41 pm 
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They could be changing the packaging or redoing the standard def mastering as well.


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