Ghosts!! The spirits in these four ancient Japanese folktales are haunting in every sense of the word; some are jealous, some greedy, some vengeful, others simply wounded. First an ambitious swordsman abandons his wife for a more promising position in a distant province, only to realize too late what he left behind. Next, after a young woodcutter loses his mentor to a beautiful ice creature’s attack, she spares him so long as he keeps this terrible secret. Then a court of dead warriors and their fallen emperor charter a blind musician to sing the songs of their glorious last stand, after which they intend to (literally) rip him apart. And lastly, a lord’s attendant is visited by a mysterious face in the reflection of his tea. Kobayashi’s innovations are overwhelming, but his use of color in particular blew me away. In his fantastical, disorienting painted backdrops of the horizon, eyes float among the clouds, always on the lookout to teach mankind a lesson.
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The Bri-terion Collection
I’m loving the Criterion Channel streaming service, so every week I’m going to share my favorite new find.