|6:30 p.m.||Suzaki Paradise: Red Light District|
Yuzo Kawashima (Japan, 1956)
(Suzaki paradaisu: Akashingo). A down-on-their-luck young couple settle on the edge of the red-light district in this major rediscovery of the Nikkatsu series, a “radiant masterwork of Japanese cinematic melodramas” (Tokyo Filmex). “How long are you going to keep me in this flimsy kimono?” demands the woman of her depressed, jobless man, while he reminds her of her possible past—or future. “If you cross that bridge (to the red-light district), you’ll be back to your old self again.” Some habits die hard, though; hoping to flirt her way out of poverty, the woman sets her sights on a well-off neighbor, while the man sets his on finding work, no matter how demeaning. Like Naruse or Mizoguchi, director Yuzo Kawashima chose the red-light district as a setting; here, however, “no one feels terrible about it” (Donald Richie). Whether fallen, falling, or barely keeping steady, Kawashima’s characters are merely trying to survive amidst the ruins; “we all have to live,” says one, “until we die.” This poetic, highly sympathetic look at the choices made to survive is anchored by the performances of Michiyo Aratama and Tatsuya Mihashi as the drifting, hopeless couple.
• Written by Toshiro Ide, Nobuyoshi Terada. Photographed by Kurataro Takamura. With Michiyo Aratama, Tatsuya Mihashi, Yukiko Todoroki, Izumi Ashikawa. (81 mins, In Japanese with English subtitles, B&W, 35mm, From Nikkatsu)