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Friday, August 21, 2009

KANZASHI / ORNAMENTAL HAIRPIN (1941)

Another outing from Japanese helmer Hiroshi Shimizu, whose rediscovered riches come in deceptively modest packages, but this time without the magic. Once again, a motley group of vacationers meet in an over-crowded lodge. There’s a single woman looking for romance, a wounded soldier, a couple of wise-ass kids from a dysfunctional family, an overbearing professor, et al. Romance is in the air, but time & tide don’t always favor the deserving. Dramatically, everything’s in place, but here the small events and commonalities Shimizu favors have a slightly forced quality and nothing seems as natural & flowing as in his earlier work. (At least, as seen in Criterion’s magnificent series of 4 DVDs.) Was Shimizu losing his touch or was it the exigencies of war that made the difference?

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