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Retribution (Was: The Prestige (Nolan, 2006))

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  • Dan Sallitt
    ... There is a moment in this film that has really stuck with me. Koji Yakusho is chasing a suspect along the roof of a building, and Kurosawa chooses one of
    Message 1 of 2 , Mar 17, 2007
      --- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, "Jaime N. Christley" <j_christley@...>
      wrote:
      >
      > But not as much as RETRIBUTION.

      There is a moment in this film that has really stuck with me. Koji
      Yakusho is chasing a suspect along the roof of a building, and Kurosawa
      chooses one of his typical high-angle, remote shots that both emphasize
      and contain the geometry of the space. At one edge of the frame, the
      suspect says, "Don't come any closer or I'll jump." Yakusho approaches,
      and the dude does indeed jump: the seeming emotionality of the situation
      is pretty much suppressed by the camera's distance and the acting style,
      so that a weird sense of the routine surrounds the leap. The jumper
      vanishes below the bottom of the frame, and I thought to myself, "I
      guess there was a net down there to catch the actor." But after a short
      delay Kurosawa tilts down, and the jumper is lying on the ground, dazed!
      Did the actor really jump off that one-story building? Or did the
      people holding the net get out of there really really quickly? I can't
      tell. There's something uncanny about the combination of potential
      horror, the weirdly bland presentation, and that pan that notarizes the
      integrity of the space.

      My problems with the film, as with many Kurosawa films, have to do with
      the story - or, more accurately, with the dramaturgy. Mike Kerpan
      opined that Kurosawa is not about story, but the stories he uses have a
      lot in common. In RETRIBUTION, as in other Kurosawa films, the
      supernatural events are organized in such a way that they seem to be
      intended to elucidate a character's internal conflict, which is a
      time-worn and honorable approach - but then the story winds up having a
      stubborn, crazy literalness about its supernatural events, as if it were
      a scary campfire story intended only to divert. - Dan
    • Jaime N. Christley
      ... Kurosawa is great with space in this and many other ways. An instructive supplement on the CHARISMA DVD shows a shot of a scene first from the perspective
      Message 2 of 2 , Mar 19, 2007
        > There's something uncanny about the combination of potential
        > horror, the weirdly bland presentation, and that pan that notarizes the
        > integrity of the space.

        Kurosawa is great with space in this and many other ways. An
        instructive supplement on the CHARISMA DVD shows a shot of a scene
        first from the perspective of someone's friend's camcorder doing a
        behind-the-scenes doc, alternating with the scene from the film...the
        difference is incredible. (The reason it's so instructive is that,
        unlike most behind-the-scenes footage, the video footage elides crew
        and equipment and is taken from more or less the same angle as the
        real shot.)

        I hope you will take the opportunity to see PULSE, Dan, although you
        may call it "campfire" just the same.

        >
        > My problems with the film, as with many Kurosawa films, have to do with
        > the story - or, more accurately, with the dramaturgy. Mike Kerpan
        > opined that Kurosawa is not about story, but the stories he uses have a
        > lot in common. In RETRIBUTION, as in other Kurosawa films, the
        > supernatural events are organized in such a way that they seem to be
        > intended to elucidate a character's internal conflict, which is a
        > time-worn and honorable approach - but then the story winds up having a
        > stubborn, crazy literalness about its supernatural events, as if it
        were
        > a scary campfire story intended only to divert. - Dan
        >

        Like most of Kurosawa's films, most especially the ones starring Koji
        Yakusho, and most *most* especially CHARISMA, the protagonist's
        internal conflict collides with the external phenomena of the plot,
        resulting in some serious friction. The protag frequently emerges as
        the dominant force, perhaps having absorbed the phenomena - or at
        least he's become its chief focal point. CHARISMA is the best
        example, in that it takes the structure of YOJIMBO/FISTFUL OF DOLLARS
        and arranges it so a conflict over a tree unleashes an overwhelming
        wave of chaos over the world. My answer to your objection would be to
        say that the protags' relationships with "events" makes a mess for
        everyone concerned. If anything is learned from KK, it is that
        nothing can be internalized for long.

        Jaime
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