Love Old and New (1961)

Love Old and New (Shamisen to ootobai)
Directed by Masahiro Shinoda
Written by Takao Yanai; story by Matsutaro Kawaguchi
Shochiku Eiga
First viewing/FilmStruck


 “We have been cut off, the past has been ended and the family has broken up and the present is adrift in its wheelchair. … That is no gap between the generations, that is a gulf. The elements have changed, there are whole new orders of magnitude and kind….

My grandparents had to live their way out of one world and into another, or into several others, making new out of old the way corals live their reef upward. I am on my grandparents’ side. I believe in Time, as they did, and in the life chronological rather than in the life existential. We live in time and through it, we build our huts in its ruins, or used to, and we cannot afford all these abandonings.” ― Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose

Shinoda does a good job with an Ozu-light sort of domestic drama.

The story concerns a widowed mother who plays the samisen and instructs men in the traditional art of kouta singing and her 20-year-old daughter who favors reckless motorcycle riding with her boyfriend.  The younger couple crash their bike and the daughter is badly injured.  The doctor who cares for her turns out to be the mother’s old flame.  The older couple rekindle a relationship and the daughter is shocked and appalled at her mother’s conduct.  But the generations are really not so different after all …

This reminded me of a story Ozu would make.  It really highlights the way the Master would strip the theme down to the essentials.  This was a bit more melodramatic and it is a tribute to Shinoda that he handled the script so well.  Worth seeing.



Hercules in the Haunted World (1961)

Hercules in the Haunted World (Ercole al centro della Terra)
Directed by Mario Bava and Franco Prosperi
Written by Mario Bava, Franco Prosperi, Sandro Continenza, and Duccio Tessari
SpA Cinematografica
First viewing/Netflix rental

King Lico: Oh god of evil, the great dragon has swallowed the moon. And now my destiny shall be fulfilled. The blood of Deianira shall be my blood. Eternal shall be my reign in thy name. Eternal shall be the sorrow of Hercules. And eternal shall be the night for the woman he loves.

The principal reason to watch this hoary “peplum” semi-thriller is for Mario Bava’s eye candy.

Hercules (Reg Park) and his horny friend Thesus journey to their home in Icalia for a reunion with Hercules’ fiancee Daianara.  When they get there they find that the evil king Lico (Christopher Lee) is now in charge and Daianara has lost her memory.

At Lico’s suggestion, Hercules consults Medea who tells him the only way to save his beloved is to retrieve the stone of forgetfulness from Hades.  First, the pair must fetch a golden apple from the Kingdom of the Night so that they can survive their journey to the underworld.

Many supernatural adventures ensue.

Bava’s use of color is effective and he manages to create creepy effects on what appeared to be a very low budget. Otherwise, the film is just about what you would expect from the title. I watched a dubbed version of the film.  Christopher Lee certainly didn’t sound like himself!  I’ve seen some pretty bad prints around but the DVD I rented looked great.

U.S. Trailer