Masters Of Cinema - Late Mizoguchi, Eight Films, 1951-1956 - Akasen Chitai

As noted in the Chikamatsu Monogatari and Yôkihi review, there might be a problem with watching so much Late Mizoguchi all at once, particularly the Late, Late Mizoguchi, which is nearly 100% concerned with telling tragic tales. Even The Bard mixed in an occasional Comedy.

In this particular tale of woe, a group of prostitutes circle Dreamland, a brothel in Tokyo, as Japan considers outlawing solicitation, not necessarily a good thing for a group sometimes on the brink.

This group, like all great ensembles, serves to typify the main concerns of the plot. Enterprising Yasumi (Ayako Wakao) plays her way to the top, using the gains of her profession to cheat clients and invest in a future return. Charming Mickey (Machiko Kyô) manoeuvres her way in amongst more clients than the others, as she avoids a troubling home life. Both of these, you suspect, would be just fine with prostitution continuing, at least for a time.

Meanwhile though, Mizoguchi turns his focus to those nearer the end of their professional lives, again taking a keen interest in age and class. Hanae (Michiyo Kogure), struggling to support an ill husband and young child, and Yumeko (Aiko Mimasu), who is desperate to reconnect with her grown son, display very different experiences of life in Dreamland, as each struggles with life and, towards the end, sanity.

It's intriguing and even funny at times, with Yasumi in particular, but it does still, like many of this group of films, really struggle to find its own life. Mizoguchi gets really involved with money, particularly in the opening gambits, again like box set high point Gion Bayashi, but, unlike that film, without ever having much to say on the subject. A strange, almost Stingray-like score tinkles in the background, both simultaneously emphasising a playful nature and depicting a film that manages to not deliver it. Though light in appearance, the score does typify the film: there's weighty stuff beyond and it's really lacking balance, Mizoguchi's main success coming well before this final notable, but flawed effort.

By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

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