If it was true in America, it was even more prevalent in an albeit modernized Tokyo. 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. (Often, the cutting underscores the cruelty, selfishness, and indifference of modern life, every man for himself, but not always.) Far from being moth-balled and prosaic, When a Woman Ascends The Stairs beats with the most devastating of lifebloods. Because in one go she effectively represents an entire subset of human beings and imbues them with unmistakable pathos. Are you familiar with Mikio Naruse? Directed by Mikio Naruse. 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. 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. 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. I’m not that good,” she mutters. Receive a $10 Reward . 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. It is a business first. What’s presented is a different type of life, even as it develops its own fashionable conception of the world. What's on TV & Streaming What's on TV & Streaming … 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. Still, just as Sirk was capable of dissecting American life, I would wager Naruse is equally adept when it comes to Japan. “Sorry. 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. ’s debut feature represented a quantum leap in the audiovisual grammar of Mexican cinema. when you purchase a new Edible Arrangements movie-themed Edible Box. Even a regular named Minaboe has started frequenting another place. Sign up to get our cinematic goodness delivered to your inbox every weekend. This should not catch us by surprise. 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. In a sense, she represents a more traditional Japanese set of values, in contrast to the mod, pecuniary libertinism sprouting up around her. The remnants of loneliness, suicide, and patriarchal ways are not just specters out of the past. 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. His absence hurts her business. 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. They still have a fairly insidious grip on the society. 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. She is a kind of hostess. What do they beget? Still, her entire existence can be summed up by one early shot: presenting the daunting stairs winding up ahead of her toward her livelihood. 4.6 89%. Add to Wishlist. Posted on August 26, 2007 by afinpassing [Onna ga kaidan wo agaru toki] 1960 – Japan. 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. 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. 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). In a highly fashionable area like Ginza — renowned even today for its shopping and glamour — the western influence is undeniable. It’s hardly a sustainable life. 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. When a woman ascends the stairs, she steps into the den of lions. Film asiatique : When a Woman Ascends the Stairs, Année : 1960. Mark Kermode @KermodeMovie. 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. Should she seek a … When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (Cert PG) Peter Bradshaw @PeterBradshaw1. 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. After Mother (1952), Late Chrysanthemums (1954), Floating Clouds (1955), and Flowing (1956), he was ready to tackle the newly prosperous, go-getter Japan. 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. When a Woman Ascends the Stairs is set in the singularly-Asian milieu of the so-called "snack bar." 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. 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. 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. when you spend $25 on participating products. Better Than Food 6,604 views. 30-day returns. 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. 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. She enters a world of objectification, where patriarchal systems take on a cynical new air. 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. So they must play the game or live a life like hamsters on a wheel, in a constantly spinning cycle of survival. Playing at Stanford University on 4/13. 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. Movies. Why do you think he is not more well-known worldwide? Naruse’s filming style, never ostentatious, shows exquisite tact. Keiko, whom everyone calls Mama, narrates her story: she's a hostess on the Ginza, 30, a widow. 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. And if it is about sex then only as a commodity, a tool, a bargaining chip, to be used. In her … It’s the 1960s, an era built on the bedrock of a post-war economy. Menu. When a Woman Ascends the Stairs - Mikio Naruse FILM REVIEW - Duration: 12:34. 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. This is an exceptional modern melodrama, reminiscent of Mizoguchi and in some ways Antonioni in its … Patrons go to bars to escape the pressures of the world, the responsibilities of their … For information, go to http://www.japan1960.blogspot.com In fact, I would say it’s a near-prescient portrait of where Japan has ventured almost 60 years later. © 2020 Film Inquiry. Tynan loves nagging all his friends to watch classic movies…. She’s finally human and she loves, and the scenes that evolve out of this development are the film’s most devastating. 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. 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. Even here, the American influence is felt with many of the bars deriving their names from English. 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). item number: Y3HQ. 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. This article is within the scope of the WikiProject Japan, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of Japan-related articles on Wikipedia. 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. The posthumous international triumph of Mikio Naruse is one of the most unique corrections in film history. 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. 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 too was about a strong single woman trying to make her way in a world all but dominated by men. When a Woman Ascends the Stairs subtitles. In short, she is a very human mixture of generous and self-protective. 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. 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. 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. Fri 29 Jun 2007 18.54 EDT. After the marriage plan with Sekine blows up, she gets drunk and throws herself at Fujisaki. 6 – 1980-2000: Handover & Second Wave, The History of Hong Kong Action Pt. 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 film keeps dwelling on that face, Keiko/Takamine’s exquisite instrument, registering revulsion or censure. Though we cannot but sympathize with Keiko, we are also allowed to judge her dispassionately. It’s not the kind of exhibition you soon forget. Unlock access to all of Film Inquiry`s great articles. What makes them even more impactful is how they just keep building off one another scene after scene. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. The only way to get ahead seems to be settling and giving in to the constant implicit or explicit demands of men. Keiko Yashiro est une femme d'âge moyen qui travaille comme hôtesse dans un bar du quartier chic … 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. Director Mikio Naruse. When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (1960) External Reviews. 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. Free shipping. 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. Expressive lighting touches, like the sudden luminosity of Takamine’s face in the fortune-telling scene, or after she sleeps with Fujisaki, are made more effective by their rarity. Corrections in film History it develops its own fashionable conception of the bars deriving their from... Customers for her attention, and that he has been transferred to a post in...., though we can not but sympathize with Keiko, a tool, widow! Works as a bar of her girls regularly sleep with clients for money for and with her (! Buy a bar hostess who must choose: to seek … Theatrical trailer for when Woman! 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