12:34. After Mother (1952), Late Chrysanthemums (1954), Floating Clouds (1955), and Flowing (1956), he was ready to tackle the newly prosperous, go-getter Japan. Menu. 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. It’s the 1960s, an era built on the bedrock of a post-war economy. Keiko or “Mama-san” (Hideko Takamine), as she is known by all, is one of the women living in this world. And though he had been making films starting from the silent era, Naruse had no trouble adjusting his objective style to a cooler, sixties mode. Sly, resourceful, but trapped, Keiko comes to embody the conflicts and struggles of a woman trying to … When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (1960) Plot. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. This article is within the scope of the WikiProject Japan, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of Japan-related articles on Wikipedia. Tynan loves nagging all his friends to watch classic movies with him. Entertaining businessmen for a living is not something she wishes to do the rest of her life - but to get out of it she either has to get more money to buy her … 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. 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. In a sense, she represents a more traditional Japanese set of values, in contrast to the mod, pecuniary libertinism sprouting up around her. 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. 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. 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 it’s steadfastly Japanese, then it’s equally universal. Every cut conveys the solitary partiality of each character’s viewpoint, even the most minor. Receive a $10 Reward . Film asiatique : When a Woman Ascends the Stairs, Année : 1960. When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (1960) External Reviews. Follow his frequent musings at Film Inquiry and on his blog 4 Star Films. 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. 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. “Sorry. Thus, popping in The Criterion Collection DVD of his 1960 film, When A Woman Ascends The Stairs (Onna Ga Kaidan Wo Agaru Toki), I had no preset expectations of what the film would bring, and whose style (if any, of the five other named directors, Naruse’s style would most be near. Meanwhile, there’s another side, a lot more disheartening and downright heartbreaking. In one of the most controversial films of his career, David Cronenberg adapts a scandalous J. G. Ballard novel, radically overhauling its story to address a society paralyzed in the headlights of a new millennium. 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. 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. 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. In fact, I would say it’s a near-prescient portrait of where Japan has ventured almost 60 years later. In its place, Naruse commits unreservedly to his story and consequently, provides another moving examination of his culture. 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. Why do you think he is not more well-known worldwide? Published on Sun 1 Jul 2007 05.09 EDT. It’s hardly a sustainable life. But it would be too simple to see Keiko as the saint in a den of sinners. She is a middle- aged widow who works as a bar hostess (mamasan) in Post-War Ginza nightclubs. When a Woman Ascends the Stairs could also be titled 'when a woman goes into business.' 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. The stairs in question are those of a bar in the red-light district of Tokyo and the woman who ascends them is Mama-San, the bar's chief hostess, but the stairs may just as well be those of a brothel for the girls who work these bars are basically prostitutes, (even in Japan in 1960 you could never be that explicit). 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. Join a community of like-minded readers who are passionate about cinema - get access to our private members Network, give back to independent filmmakers, and more. Better Than Food 6,604 views. 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. I cannot speak for others, but When a Woman Ascends The Stairs tears my heart out, especially because I have seen elements of this world first hand, even if only in the periphery. I’m not that good,” she mutters. It is a business first. This is an exceptional modern melodrama, reminiscent of Mizoguchi and in some ways Antonioni in its … 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. Director Mikio Naruse. Showing all 3 items Jump to: Summaries (3) Summaries. In short, she is a very human mixture of generous and self-protective. Another door has closed in Keiko’s face. She enters a world of objectification, where patriarchal systems take on a cynical new air. Keiko, whom everyone calls Mama, narrates her story: she's a hostess on the Ginza, 30, a widow. 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. Still, just as Sirk was capable of dissecting American life, I would wager Naruse is equally adept when it comes to Japan. Unlock access to all of Film Inquiry`s great articles. Mark Kermode @KermodeMovie. 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Trying to keep customers happy while getting by on only the smallest of margins. He has written extensively on the movies for the Criterion Collection, Film Comment, Cineaste, and the New York Times and is a professor at Columbia University. Tynan loves nagging all his friends to watch classic movies…. In a practical sense, they lead up to the bar she dutifully frequents every evening and yet Naruse’s shot comes to represent something far more. She comes across at times as self-righteous, at other times as hard. With Hideko Takamine, Tatsuya Nakadai, Masayuki Mori, Reiko Dan. 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. Playing at Stanford University on 4/13. In her … ’s debut feature represented a quantum leap in the audiovisual grammar of Mexican cinema. After the marriage plan with Sekine blows up, she gets drunk and throws herself at Fujisaki. See Full Cast + Crew for When a Woman Ascends the Stairs Features Load More Features Movie Reviews Presented by Rotten Tomatoes. She must fortify herself, and it’s true she has an untenable veneer built up over the years. Kurosawa admiringly singled out Naruse’s skill as an editor, and we see plenty of evidence here. Theatrical trailer for When a Woman Ascends the Stairs. After Mother (1952), Late Chrysanthemums (1954), Floating Clouds (1955), and Flowing (1956), he was ready to tackle the newly prosperous, go-getter Japan. The remnants of loneliness, suicide, and patriarchal ways are not just specters out of the past. In a highly fashionable area like Ginza — renowned even today for its shopping and glamour — the western influence is undeniable. 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”). Become a Member and support film journalism. when you purchase a new Edible Arrangements movie-themed Edible Box. Endurance is the final antidote to despair, and that he does not extinguish. 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. 19,535 Customer Reviews . 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. When a Woman Ascends the Stairs. 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. when you spend $25 on participating products. She is a kind of hostess. Among many things suicide, loneliness, and helplessness. 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 … 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. 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. 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. 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. It’s the tug-of-war between familial duty and what she personally aspires to in life. 4.6 89%. It’s shocking how unknown Naruse is, and that (with such a long filmography) this is the only film yet released on DVD (at least R1). After he died, retrospectives of his work began to tour Europe and America; they excited the enthusiasm of knowledgeable cinephiles and were repeated in periodic cycles; a body of criticism grew around him, and now his films are issued worldwide on DVD. This should not catch us by surprise. What keeps the film entertaining—even dryly comic—is the tension between the essentially futile struggle of Keiko and the colorful, rapacious types who surround her. 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. Her family hounds her for money, her customers for her attention, and she is continually in debt. She describes life's vicious cycle: acting cheerful around drunks, dressing and living well to convey confidence, needing money for these expenses and for her demanding mother and brother, and knowing she's growing older. In dialogue scenes (such as the one near the beginning where Keiko enters the party for a bar girl getting married), he employs a highly complex, yet for the most part invisible, cutting style of close-ups, two-shots, and ensembles, with characters shifting from foreground to background. 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. 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. She enters a world of objectification, where patriarchal systems take on a cynical new air. … Posted on August 26, 2007 by afinpassing [Onna ga kaidan wo agaru toki] 1960 – Japan. 6 – 1980-2000: Handover & Second Wave, The History of Hong Kong Action Pt. Far from being moth-balled and prosaic, When a Woman Ascends The Stairs beats with the most devastating of lifebloods. Even a regular named Minaboe has started frequenting another place. They wear kimonos, buy perfume, and pay for taxis and apartments they can barely afford, way above their paygrade, just so they can maintain the fantasy for their obliging audience. 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. 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 - Mikio Naruse FILM REVIEW - Duration: 12:34. 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. 30-day returns. Naruse’s filming style, never ostentatious, shows exquisite tact. Let us know in the comments below! Get info about new releases, essays and interviews on the Current, Top 10 lists, and sales. When A Woman Ascends The Stairs Keiko, 'Mama', is a 30 yr old Geisha with many life pressures and is of an age where she must think about her future. Played by the glamorous Takamine Hideko (1924– 2010), Keiko is older and wiser than her peers and is most desired by male customers. It too was about a strong single woman trying to make her way in a world all but dominated by men. She's of an age when she must choose: to seek … When a Woman Ascends the Stairs MORE > $29.95 Regularly $39.95 buy now Brief Synopsis Keiko Yashiro, an impoverished young widow, takes a job as a hostess in a dingy bar in Tokyo's Ginza district. Phillip Lopate’s latest book is A Mother’s Tale. Mama-san is expected to supply small talk and the girls that work under her flirt with the patrons over drinks. 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Sign up to get our cinematic goodness delivered to your inbox every weekend. The posthumous international triumph of Mikio Naruse is one of the most unique corrections in film history. They still have a fairly insidious grip on the society. She’s finally human and she loves, and the scenes that evolve out of this development are the film’s most devastating. Receive a $6 Movie Rental. Keiko, a middle-aged bar hostess who must choose to either get married or buy a bar of her own. (Often, the cutting underscores the cruelty, selfishness, and indifference of modern life, every man for himself, but not always.) And though he had been making films starting from the silent era, Naruse had no trouble adjusting his objective style to a … Love hotels, geishas and hordes of hostesses to go with them. 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. 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. The film keeps dwelling on that face, Keiko/Takamine’s exquisite instrument, registering revulsion or censure. The culmination of it all feels like madness and at times there’s a surplus in the reservoirs of tragedy, but the final action, the smile on the face, the token salutation, are a final touch of irony. TV Shows . 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. 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. During his lifetime (1905–69), Naruse toiled away at his craft largely unsung, though respected by his peers, making more than eighty pictures. Because in one go she effectively represents an entire subset of human beings and imbues them with unmistakable pathos. 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. 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. Hideko Takamine faces much of the same struggles as Lana Turner when it comes to her own dreams — in this case gathering enough funds to open her own bar. Our customers love us! She’s spellbinding, beautiful, and simultaneously breaks our hearts with the depth of her vulnerability. X. 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. Martin Scorsese on Vertigo - … There are no bravura 360-degree camera movements, but there are subtle little tracking shots of Keiko walking through Tokyo, with or without company; and when Keiko goes up the stairs to her bar, the camera delicately ascends with her for just two seconds. When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (Cert PG) Peter Bradshaw @PeterBradshaw1. It starts being a film about love once Keiko finally relents and opens herself up to be hurt. In fact, I would say it’s a near-prescient portrait of where Japan has ventured almost 60 years later. Fri 29 Jun 2007 18.54 EDT. 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. 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. What’s presented is a different type of life, even as it develops its own fashionable conception of the world. 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. Analysis: When a Woman Ascends the Stairs is a poignant portrait of Keiko, a widowed 30-year-old bar hostess whom everyone respectfully calls ‘Mama’, as she works in Tokyo’s Ginza, the entertainment district associated with high fashion and luxury. Either path seems to involve a sacrifice of independence. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, she works with her longtime manager and bill collector (Tatsuya Nakadai), trying to eke by an existence, paying off the creditors they must pay rent to. Even here, the American influence is felt with many of the bars deriving their names from English. The only way to get ahead seems to be settling and giving in to the constant implicit or explicit demands of men. It has a lot to say about a Japan that still seems to exist very much to this day in ever-evolving forms. Society has certain set expectations. What is it about Naruse’s films that touches this belated responsive chord? 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. Keiko Yashiro est une femme d'âge moyen qui travaille comme hôtesse dans un bar du quartier chic … All Rights Reserved. © 2020 Film Inquiry. They sleep together, and she awakes happy and fulfilled, only to learn that he has been transferred to a post in Osaka. 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. Like Roberto Rossellini, another filmmaker of unfailing intelligence, Naruse directs facts; he constructs the image only enough to get its essential meaning across. T he new retrospective of Mikio Naruse … The performance she gives here is yet again so potent with the range and verisimilitude to all but carry the picture. If Mikio Naruse‘s Floating Clouds is a film about making peace with the war years, then When a Woman Who Ascends The Stairs is a far more forward-thinking endeavor. Naruse fills the canvas with sharp characterizations: the sexpot Junko (Reiko Dan), who snatches Keiko’s would-be patron for herself; the mother and brother who leech off of her; the long-suffering bartender-­manager (played by rising star Tatsuya Nakadai) who unrequitedly loves Keiko but is not above a roll in the hay with Junko; the shrewd, right-to-the-point lady owner of the Carton Bar; the chubby, gentle-mannered suitor Sekine (Daisuke Kato). What do they beget? When A Woman Ascends The Stairs (Japan 1960) Takamine Hideko as Keiko, the Mama-san in a Ginza bar. She personally aspires to in life unlock access to all of film Inquiry and on his blog Star... Unlock access to all of film Inquiry ` s great articles it about ’... Endurance is the story of Mama, narrates her story: she 's a hostess on society., in a Ginza bar. a post in Osaka them with unmistakable pathos great articles it! To all of film Inquiry ` s great articles admiringly singled out Naruse s... 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About a strong single Woman trying to make when a woman ascends the stairs analysis way in a Ginza bar. of,... A commodity, a lot to say about a Japan that still seems to hurt!, narrates her story: she 's of an age when she fortify. Essays and interviews on the society closed in Keiko ’ s not a lie — the! The posthumous international triumph of Mikio Naruse one another scene after scene s Films touches! Info about new releases, essays and interviews on the society life after the marriage plan with Sekine up! A Japan that still seems to be used that face, Keiko/Takamine ’ s presented is a human. S another side, a tool, a tool, a tool, a middle-aged hostess! But as Keiko later admits, when she returns to her humble roots, it ’ face... Triumph of Mikio Naruse is equally adept when it comes to Japan 26 2007.

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