With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Friday, April 02, 2010

ACF 522: Final two Ayako Wakao flicks showing tonight at NY's Japan Society

The final two Ayakao Wakao films in Japan Society'sMad, Bad... & Dangerous to Know series will be shown tonight, Friday, April 2nd. Note that this is not a double-feature; there is separate admission for each screening.

Seisaku's Wife is another terrific collaboration between director Yasuzo Masumura and Wakao. While I have not seen A Wife Confesses, viewing the other three Wakao films in the series has made it clear why she is billed here as "Passion Made Flesh."

Here's some info on tonight's films from Japan Society:

Seisaku's Wife / Seisaku no tsuma
Directed by Yasuzo Masumura
Japan, 1965, B&W, 93 min.

On the eve of the Russo-Japanese war at the beginning of the 20th century, small-town girl Okane (Ayakao Wakao) has married an old wealthy man to escape a life of poverty. Upon her husband’s sudden death, she withdraws to her small farming village where she stoically submits to public opprobrium and lives the silent sullen life of a pariah. Along comes Seisaku (Takahiro Tamura), the local “model youth”, returning from his army duty: while she is the shame of the village, he is the pride of his community. Nevertheless, the disreputable beauty and the honorable patriot begin an unlikely and tumultuous love affair that will eventually render him as marginal as she.

In this film, Masumura's fetish actress Ayako Wakao delivers one of her best performances ever: she won both the Kinema Jumpo Awards (the Japanese Oscars) and the Blue Ribbon Awards prize for Best actress for this role.

Seisaku's Wife will be shown at 6:30 PM. Info and online ticket ordering here.

A Wife Confesses / Tsuma wa kokuhaku suru
Directed by Yasuzo Masumura
Japan, 1961, B&W, 91 min.

Possibly the most intriguing film directed by Masumura, A Wife Confesses is both a film noir study of the hypocrisies of marriage and a lush psychological thriller featuring a wondrously ambiguous female protagonist played by Ayako Wakao, simultaneously a sympathetic victim and one of the most sophisticated femme fatales ever portrayed in cinema.

Young widow Ayako Takigawa (Ayako Wakao) goes on trial for the murder of her husband in a mountaineering accident. She stands to gain five million yen from his life insurance—that is, if she is cleared of the charge. Her version of the facts: the fall that claimed the life of her abusive husband nearly dragged her and his student Koda along to their deaths; Ayako had no choice but to cut the rope. Did the widow kill her brutal spouse in cold blood so that she and young Koda could enjoy the money from the policy that the student had urged Professor Takigawa to buy?

A Wife Confesses will screen at 8:30 PM. Info and online ticket order, here.

The series continues on Saturday and Sunday with five great films starring Meiko Kaji. It'll truly be, as billed, "A Mad, Bad Unholy Easter Weekend."

Mad, Bad… & Dangerous to Know: Three Untamed Beauties is made possible through the generous support of The Globus Family.

Both images above are are copyright Kadokawa Pictures, Inc.

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