Melbourne Cinematheque: 24 Aug 11: Shinoda Week 2

30 Aug

At Cinematheque this week we see Shinoda continue with his striking imagery, conflicting values and forbidden romance, this time within A Flame at the Pier (1962) and Samurai Spy (1965).

Firstly is A Flame at the Pier, wherein Shinoda contrasts the stories of dock-worker (and aspiring singer) Sabu and the waitress Yuki with Kitani and Reiko; the wife of a high ranking dock-worker in a loveless marriage. The dock where Sabu works is in the middle of a strike over working conditions and whilst many wish to form a workers union all that have done so in the past have been killed by the owner’s henchmen. Whilst tensions between strikers and businessmen continue to mount, Sabu’s dream of becoming a singer becomes less and less unattainable leading him into a life where he is controlled and manipulated at all corners.

Following on from A Flame at the Pier is Samurai Spy. Set in 1600’s the film opens on the Battle of Sekighara where the Tokugawa clan are victorious. It is quickly established however that the defeated Toyotomi clan still have strong support in high places. Jumping forward to 1614CE, both of the two clans are still at war with each other and rōnin (masterless samurai) are roaming the country, working as double agents. One such agent is the legendary Sasuke Sarutobi. It is Sasuke who the film follows as he attempts to pursue Tatewaki Koriyama- an Tokugawa clansman who plans to defect to the Toyotomi clan- Shinoda blends together a mix of genres, cinematic styles and character identities.

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