THE LOVE OF SUMAKO THE ACTRESS (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1947)

Starring as early twentieth-century stage actress Sumako Matsui, Kinuyo Tanaka (best actress, Mainichi Film Concours) provides a sumptuous tour-de-force as a feisty, independent woman whose vulnerability is her love for her partner, Hôgetsu Shimamura, the director of the itinerant Art Theater to which she belongs. When Shimamura dies of pneumonia, Sumako falls apart and her […]

WOMEN OF THE NIGHT (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1948)

Yasujiro Ozu’s Kaze no naka no mendori—in the States, A Hen in the Wind—and Kenji Mizoguchi’s Yoru no onnatachi might be considered film sisters; both are from 1948, both address Japan’s postwar socioeconomic devastation, one in Tokyo, the other in Osaka, as reflected in the protagonist’s dip or slip into prostitution, and both (brilliantly) star […]