And if it is about sex then only as a commodity, a tool, a bargaining chip, to be used. One old lady comments on how you can still see the old Tokyo, but it’s obvious — even the classy scoring and the generally sleek compositions suggest as much — modern society is upon us in full force. When a Woman Ascends the Stairs might be Japanese filmmaker Mikio Naruse's finest hour—a delicate, devastating study of a woman, Keiko (played heartbreakingly by Hideko Takamine), who works as a bar hostess in Tokyo's very modern postwar Ginza district, who entertains businessmen after work. See Full Cast + Crew for When a Woman Ascends the Stairs Features Load More Features Movie Reviews Presented by Rotten Tomatoes. When a Woman Ascends the Stairs 3.7K ratings 8.1/10. Format: DVD. When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (1960) External Reviews. At the film’s center is Hideko Takamine, one of Naruse’s favorite actresses and indeed one of the most striking, gifted, and charismatic stars in Japanese cinema. And yet at the end of the day, she must put a cap on her emotions and saunter up those same solitary steps and don the genteel facade expected of her. In her … SEE DETAILS. The stairs in the title are both literal and symbolic, conveying the idea that Keiko is on a Sisyphean vertical treadmill, trying to get somewhere in this life as a woman on her own. We respect her stubbornness and resilience, yes, but what keeps this quintessential woman’s picture from descending to weepy melodrama is the objectivity brought to bear. If there is any other film I found myself cycling back to, it was actually Imitation of Life directed by the master of luscious American melodrama Douglas Sirk. Her voice-overs, on the steps or during documentary-style cutaways of Tokyo, tend to describe in general terms the daily life of the Ginza district and the bar hostess’s lot. T he new retrospective of Mikio Naruse … Because in one go she effectively represents an entire subset of human beings and imbues them with unmistakable pathos. Get info about new releases, essays and interviews on the Current, Top 10 lists, and sales. It is a business first. Soli Deo Gloria. Free shipping. In some ways mismatched to the job, since she does not like liquor, refuses to sleep around, and has a proud, choosy character, she stands out from the stereotypical bar girl, which is why so many of the male characters find her a challenge and want to seduce her. Keiko is not a prostitute, although many of her girls regularly sleep with clients for money. Why do you think he is not more well-known worldwide? Theatrical trailer for When a Woman Ascends the Stairs. Either path seems to involve a sacrifice of independence. She plays Keiko, a widow who supports herself as a bar madam, the chief attraction in whatever bar she works, by virtue of her beauty and superior refinement (hence the honorific Mama). Still, her entire existence can be summed up by one early shot: presenting the daunting stairs winding up ahead of her toward her livelihood. In a highly fashionable area like Ginza — renowned even today for its shopping and glamour — the western influence is undeniable. “Sorry. With its thought-provoking structure, interweaving story lines, and saturated colors, Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s debut feature represented a quantum leap in the audiovisual grammar of Mexican cinema. She weeps for herself, but do we weep for and with her? She’s proposed to and berated and lied to and loved by three or four different men. She starts out as a manger of a bar but fails to make ends meet so has to get a job as a simple bar hostess. Setsuko Hara was the first Japanese actresses I truly recognized across a body of work; she was a luminary personality, and Hideko Takamine deserves to hold the same company, proving herself to be an incomparable muse in her own right. Keiko, whom everyone calls Mama, narrates her story: she's a hostess on the Ginza, 30, a widow. They sleep together, and she awakes happy and fulfilled, only to learn that he has been transferred to a post in Osaka. Unlock access to all of Film Inquiry`s great articles. It has a lot to say about a Japan that still seems to exist very much to this day in ever-evolving forms. It’s not a lie — all the things in front — but there is so much more to contend with. (Often, the cutting underscores the cruelty, selfishness, and indifference of modern life, every man for himself, but not always.) Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. It’s the undercurrent of Tokyo if you wander into the red district or happen to step outside the confines of the beautifully cultivated exterior. Synopsis: This is the story of Mama, a.k.a. This is an exceptional modern melodrama, reminiscent of Mizoguchi and in some ways Antonioni in its … No one is that good—or that evil—in a Naruse movie; he neither ennobles nor demeans, but shows realistically the ways that we are all mixed, contradictory creatures. My last thought is only this. It braces her to be the perfect hostess to all, balancing her customers’ entreaties and come-ons with the utmost ease and floating from each conversation with impeccable tact. Naruse’s filming style, never ostentatious, shows exquisite tact. There is no relief in this constant barrage of pain, rejection, and heartbreak our heroine is taxed with. As he famously said about his characters: “If they move even a little they quickly hit the wall.” That this rather grim vision should prove delightful in the viewing remains an enigma. What makes them even more impactful is how they just keep building off one another scene after scene. When a Woman Ascends the Stairs, made in 1959, is the culmination of a run of masterpieces Naruse reeled off in the 1950s. For instance, when she flings the words “I hate you” at her admirer-­manager, the balance in sympathy shifts to him for the moment: he has done nothing to deserve such scorn. His absence hurts her business. When A Woman Ascends The Stairs (Japan 1960, dir. Part of it comes from the detached point of view in Keiko’s own voice-overs, part from the careful plotting that makes each successive outcome seem plausible rather than operatic, and most of it from the visual style, which records the drama in evenhanded, worldly fashion. TV Shows . Fri 29 Jun 2007 18.54 EDT. When a Woman Ascends the Stairs. To start her own bar, she is advised that she will need a patron (i.e., to become some businessman’s mistress); Keiko tries to circumvent this distasteful compromise by attempting to raise the capital through subscription from her wealthiest customers. When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (Cert PG) Peter Bradshaw @PeterBradshaw1. Offers. What do they beget? And though he had been making films starting from the silent era, Naruse had no trouble adjusting his objective style to a … Tynan loves nagging all his friends to watch classic movies with him. This absorbing drama takes a character we would normally associate with film noir into the real world of the Ginza, where a hostess's fortune is measured in how many men she can attract to her bar. Satire and sarcasm infused in drama do not function in the same manner in Japan. Mark Kermode @KermodeMovie. Her family hounds her for money, her customers for her attention, and she is continually in debt. During his lifetime (1905–69), Naruse toiled away at his craft largely unsung, though respected by his peers, making more than eighty pictures. I’m not that good,” she mutters. Certainly Keiko has more of a conscience than the sleazy businessman Minobe, who wastes no time collecting his debts when his mistress Yuri commits suicide, or the opportunistic bar girl who swoops in to resell the suicide’s kimonos. His work, almost all of which is set in the contemporary era, is about people (very often women) of limited means trying to keep their heads above water, escape domestic quagmires, and realize their dreams in a world rife with betrayals and self-betrayals. After Mother (1952), Late Chrysanthemums (1954), Floating Clouds (1955), and Flowing (1956), he was ready to tackle the newly prosperous, go-getter Japan. Notify Me When Available. Tynan loves nagging all his friends to watch classic movies…. Capturing the tense mood of a new millennium, Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s debut feature explores the hidden spaces of Mexico City at a moment of political turbulence and extreme social stratification. Are you familiar with Mikio Naruse? Because this is a film all about sex, though we never see it outright. A middle-aged bar hostess, constantly in debt, is faced with numerous social constraints and challenges posed to her by her family, customers and friends. When the long-suffering manager discovers she has slept with Fujisaki, he throws the evidence in her face: “I used to respect you,” he says. It’s hardly a sustainable life. Receive a $10 Reward . If it was true in America, it was even more prevalent in an albeit modernized Tokyo. She’s finally human and she loves, and the scenes that evolve out of this development are the film’s most devastating. When a woman ascends the stairs, she steps into the den of lions. The remnants of loneliness, suicide, and patriarchal ways are not just specters out of the past. She’s spellbinding, beautiful, and simultaneously breaks our hearts with the depth of her vulnerability. When A Woman Ascends The Stairs is a Japanese film about a bar hostess in Tokyo’s luxurious Ginza district who encounters a variety of social challenges as she meets with her family, her friends, and a wide range of customers. Trying to keep customers happy while getting by on only the smallest of margins. The performance she gives here is yet again so potent with the range and verisimilitude to all but carry the picture. Despite being a story about women giving companionship to men on their business trips and away from their wives, for the longest time no notion of actual love is created. But as Keiko later admits, when she returns to her humble roots, it’s all a meticulously created fabrication. For a director whose vision is so frequently called pessimistic, what continuously engages and enthralls in When a Woman Ascends the Stairs is a lightness of touch, deft and coolly understated, like its cocktail jazz score. A middle-aged bar hostess, constantly in debt, is faced with numerous social constraints and challenges posed to her by her family, customers and friends. The veil of social decency morphs into a veil of affection, relations predicated on the commodity of love making true human connection impossible to find. Should she seek a … Still, just as Sirk was capable of dissecting American life, I would wager Naruse is equally adept when it comes to Japan. The dilemma is that she is approaching an age when her looks might be expected to fade, and so she is encouraged either to start her own bar or to get married. It starts being a film about love once Keiko finally relents and opens herself up to be hurt. What is it about Naruse’s films that touches this belated responsive chord? When her mother begs her for the necessary funds to keep her brother out of jail, Keiko’s first response is a haughty refusal; only later does she come around. Release Calendar DVD & Blu-ray Releases Top Rated Movies Most Popular Movies Browse Movies by Genre Top Box Office Showtimes & Tickets Showtimes & Tickets In Theaters Coming Soon Coming Soon Movie News India Movie Spotlight. It’s the 1960s, an era built on the bedrock of a post-war economy. 30-day returns. The crisp black-and-white CinemaScope, xylophone-inflected jazz score, and modernist bar interiors give When a Woman Ascends the Stairs a glamorous, International Style sheen; its taste of gin and bitters goes down like a dry martini. In short, she is a very human mixture of generous and self-protective. If it’s steadfastly Japanese, then it’s equally universal. What’s presented is a different type of life, even as it develops its own fashionable conception of the world. Our customers love us! Playing at Stanford University on 4/13. Keiko Yashiro est une femme d'âge moyen qui travaille comme hôtesse dans un bar du quartier chic … Turner‘s life is equally complicated by her relationship, or lack thereof, with her daughter (Sandra Dee). I’m not sure if we could call it her stairway toward the “glass ceiling” exactly but she enters a new world — a restricting space — when she steps into work every evening. She comes across at times as self-righteous, at other times as hard. It too was about a strong single woman trying to make her way in a world all but dominated by men. They are not flashy, but they ring true, they appeal to our demanding intelligence, our sense of the rigor of daily life; and, seen in bulk, they draw us into an astonishingly consistent, psychologically resonant universe. In a sense, she represents a more traditional Japanese set of values, in contrast to the mod, pecuniary libertinism sprouting up around her. When a Woman Ascends the Stairs. This should not catch us by surprise. She enters a world of objectification, where patriarchal systems take on a cynical new air. When Keiko decides to accept Sekine’s marriage proposal, we cheer her willingness to compromise by accepting this homely but essentially good-hearted man—only to discover he is not what he appears. Patrons go to bars to escape the pressures of the world, the responsibilities of their … 5 – 1980: New Wave, Cinema City, Jackie Chan & John Woo, The History of Hong Kong Action Cinema Pt. Add to Wishlist. After Mother (1952), Late Chrysanthemums (1954), Floating Clouds (1955), and Flowing (1956), he was ready to tackle the newly prosperous, go-getter Japan. She's of an age when she must choose: to seek … Keiko or “Mama-san” (Hideko Takamine), as she is known by all, is one of the women living in this world. She is a middle- aged widow who works as a bar hostess (mamasan) in Post-War Ginza nightclubs. When a woman Ascends the Stairs is about a bar hostess named Keiko, played by Hideko Takamine, who wants to move up or out of her life style. When a Woman Ascends the Stairs is centered on the character of Keiko, played by the striking Hideko Takamine who also appeared in Floating Clouds. Played by the glamorous Takamine Hideko (1924– 2010), Keiko is older and wiser than her peers and is most desired by male customers. Even a regular named Minaboe has started frequenting another place. Like Roberto Rossellini, another filmmaker of unfailing intelligence, Naruse directs facts; he constructs the image only enough to get its essential meaning across. What's on TV & Streaming What's on TV & Streaming … Sprawling across more than half a century of American history, Martin Scorsese’s crime saga combines epic ambition with a mood of isolation and dissolution. Most of the film doesn’t take place on the main streets however, instead frequenting the back alcoves and the lines of bars hidden away from the public. It’s not the kind of exhibition you soon forget. Meanwhile, there’s another side, a lot more disheartening and downright heartbreaking. The scene where Sekine’s real wife tells Keiko that her husband keeps getting into trouble by chasing women and believing his own lies, while children circle the empty lot on a beat-up bike trailing a tin can, with power-plant stacks in the distance, is classic forlorn Naruse. Even with its touches of humor in an expression or a line of dialogue, it’s nowhere close to the campy, technicolor crescendo Sirk cooked up for Imitation of Life. Thankfully, there are other clients to work on, and so she does her best to keep them happy, while never quite acquiescing to their wishes. when you spend $25 on participating products. Movies. When A Woman Ascends The Stairs (Japan 1960) Takamine Hideko as Keiko, the Mama-san in a Ginza bar. The only way to get ahead seems to be settling and giving in to the constant implicit or explicit demands of men. Asked to help pay for an operation that would correct her nephew’s polio, she discards the plea as too expensive, and we never do find out if she springs for the loan. Naruse Mikio) has just about everything I could wish for in a movie – a beautiful heroine presented in a B+W ‘Scope melodrama in which she must make almost impossible decisions about how to gain her independence in patriarchal … Better Than Food 6,604 views. Another door has closed in Keiko’s face. If it’s a euphemism for something more, I can’t entirely say nor does the film try and define it, choosing instead to exist in this ambiguity. Far from being moth-balled and prosaic, When a Woman Ascends The Stairs beats with the most devastating of lifebloods. The film keeps dwelling on that face, Keiko/Takamine’s exquisite instrument, registering revulsion or censure. 12:34. When a Woman Ascends the Stairs: They Endure an essay by Phillip Lopate at the Criterion Collection This page was last edited on 8 November 2020, at 14:32 (UTC). When a Woman Ascends the Stairs is set in the singularly-Asian milieu of the so-called "snack bar." Let us know in the comments below! Perhaps Naruse’s refusal to employ cheap, feel-good shortcuts (or, for that matter, facile apocalyptic bleakness) comes as such a relief in contrast to the usual box office fare. Follow his frequent musings at Film Inquiry and on his blog 4 Star Films. Keiko, a middle-aged bar hostess who must choose to either get married or buy a bar of her own. A departure of sorts from the usually drab, lower-middle-class, scarcity environments, but the preference for enlightened stoicism over glib redemption is pure Naruse. But in a manner indicative of Japanese culture, Keiko must deal with a nagging mother and a useless brother who are constantly dependent on her for money. When a Woman Ascends the Stairs. Published on Sun 1 Jul 2007 05.09 EDT. on most orders of $75+ Brand New. The posthumous international triumph of Mikio Naruse is one of the most unique corrections in film history. She has her own wayward needs, is in fact in love with a married businessman, Fujisaki (the wonderful actor Masayuki Mori, who played the potter in Ugetsu, and who subtly communicates here the burden of being “the type women go for”). If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the project, participate in relevant discussions, and see lists of open tasks.Current time in Japan: 14:26, December 9, 2020 (JST, Reiwa 2) Naruse’s gift here is being able to keep alive surprise and the fresh possibility of hope, even as you know deep down that he’s going to snatch most of that hope away. All Rights Reserved. 19,535 Customer Reviews . Sly, resourceful, but trapped, Keiko comes to embody the conflicts and struggles of a woman trying to … Martin Scorsese on Vertigo - … Of all Japanese directors Mikio Naruse was the one most concerned with the … Directed by Mikio Naruse. This article is within the scope of the WikiProject Japan, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of Japan-related articles on Wikipedia. Though we cannot but sympathize with Keiko, we are also allowed to judge her dispassionately. Film asiatique : When a Woman Ascends the Stairs, Année : 1960. 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