Portrait of a whorehouse at a certain point in time when politicians were discussing whether to outlaw the profession (voted the ban down at the end of the movie, but it eventually passed, some say as a result of the movie). Six or seven prostitutes all with different desperate situations. One has a suicidally depressing home life with sick husband and infant they can’t afford, one is trying to support her son who disowns her when he finds out what she does at work, one is a rich bitch escaping her controlling father, one is aiming to escape through marriage but her husband mistreats her and she comes crawling back, and one is bilking her clients out of extra money so she can quit and start her own business (the only happy ending here).

The same sort of feminine miserablism that I’ve come to expect from Mizoguchi after Life Of Oharu. This one has a more impressive look to it (the main house and the street outside, the costumes, the acting, all exquisite) but still a depressing movie that I didn’t enjoy very much. I may have liked it better than Ugetsu though… have to see that one again, and check out Sansho The Bailiff sometime.

A turning-point year for Japanese cinema: Mizoguchi’s final film, the beginning of the Japanese New Wave, and (according to Reverse Shot) the beginning of “more socially critical efforts” by Yasujiro Ozu. It’s also the year of The Burmese Harp, but I haven’t seen that yet.

Saw this one with Pia from work.

Severine is the wife of Pierre (Jean Sorel), but is unhappy with him sexually. She’s got a rich fantasy life, though. Sleigh bells and cats and a horse-drawn carriage lead her into rape-fantasies with coachmen, dreams of being tied up and humiliated and made to play dead. Family friend Michel Piccoli (of The Milky Way, Contempt and Diabolik) tells Severine about a brothel, which she hesitantly joins. Hilarity ensues when a customer (Marcel) becomes dangerously infatuated with her, and Piccoli eventually visits the place again, sees Severine there and threatens to tell her husband. In a jealous fit, Marcel shoots Pierre then is killed by the cops. Piccoli sits alone with Pierre, now confined to a wheelchair (and blind?) and presumably tells him Severine’s secret. The coachmen float us away into fantasy once more.

Terrific looking movie and really great performances. It’s got that Bunuel-dream-crawl pacing. Maybe best watched very late at night. Doesn’t make me weary like most Bunuel movies… probably one of my faves. Not as sexy as I’d maybe promised, more bizarre… sense of danger over sensuality, mostly a tense movie. Katy sorta liked it I guess.