Ladies first - Page 2

Kinuyo Tanaka and other legends command the screen in "Japanese Divas"

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Machiko Kyo (right) delivers an iconic performance as the ethereal Lady Wakasa in Kenji Mizoguchi's 1953 Ugetsu.

My current favorite diva of the bunch: the bravely smiling, long-suffering Hideko Takamine, epicenter of Mikio Naruse's wonderful drama, When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (1960). Also the star of Keisuke Kinoshita's Technicolor Carmen Comes Home (1951) and his well-loved Twenty-Four Eyes (1954), Takamine's put-upon, stubbornly independent hostess Mama is beautifully filled out with almost imperceptible shading — from the slightly arch, whiny tone she assumes when drunk and forced to consort with a heartless customer to the guarded polonaise of politeness she undergoes while sitting down with a rival hostess. Here, as Naruse matter-of-factly breaks down the economics of the biz, Takamine is less Douglas Sirk's Jane Wyman than Rainer Werner Fassbinder's Hanna Schygulla, colored in less lurid hues: a post-World War II heartbreaker all too familiar with the disaster attendant with hitching one's hopes and fortunes to men. 

JAPANESE DIVAS

June 17–Aug. 20, $5.50–$9.50

Pacific Film Archive

2575 Bancroft, SF

(510) 642-5249

www.bampfa.berkeley.edu

 

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