One of the most stunning motion pictures ever made, not only in terms of its visual appeal and its haunting story, Ugetsu Monogari is the second installment of a dazzling triptych created by Japanese filmmaker Kenji Mizoguchi. The first, released in 1952, was The Life of Oharu. In this seemingly benign tale of obligation, regret and sacrifice, we see an old woman in a temple flashing back through the events in her life as she struggles to make sense out of what has happened to her. Secrets and intrigue abound as she passes through many disparate phases in her search for meaning. The second portion of this 3-part epic is, as indicated earlier, Ugetsu Monogari.
Rarely do you find a motion picture that so completely captures a culture’s fascination with celebrity, celluloid and, ultimately, the shared darkness in which these dreams fester. Sunset Boulevard, made during the height of Hollywood’s enduring hold on our collective imagination, would likely have a difficult time finding a brave studio willing to roll the dice on its chances for success today.
But succeed it did! Sunset Boulevard remains one of the most enduring and spellbinding motion pictures ever made. Initially conceived as a comedy about a has-been actress making a comeback to the big screen, Sunset Boulevard very quickly evolves into an eiree dream-like world where it becomes difficult to distinguish reality from fantasy.
Often considered one of Fedrico Fellini’s pivotal works, I Vitelloni (or The Young Lambs) chronicles numerous societal changes that swept through Italy during the early 1950s. Combining easily identified autobiographical elements with the penchant some young men have for squandering their youth and opportunities, I Vitelloni focuses on the process of adaptation. How we respond to changes in our environment. And how that response is received and utilized by society at large.