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. item number: Y3HQ. Keiko, a middle-aged bar hostess who must choose to either get married or buy a bar of her own. Get info about new releases, essays and interviews on the Current, Top 10 lists, and sales. Still, just as Sirk was capable of dissecting American life, I would wager Naruse is equally adept when it comes to Japan. Of all Japanese directors Mikio Naruse was the one most concerned with the … Receive a $6 Movie Rental. 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. 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. For 5 years in this tawdry business, she’s kept strong in this regard. 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. 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). Sly, resourceful, but trapped, Keiko comes to embody the conflicts and struggles of a woman trying to … Published on Sun 1 Jul 2007 05.09 EDT. Are you familiar with Mikio Naruse? 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. 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. This should not catch us by surprise. Known as the honorable “Mama”, Keiko has earned the respect and admiration of other bar hostess and customers for her unadulterated beauty. 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. 7 – 2000-Present: Life After the Handover, The History of Hong Kong Action Cinema Pt. Turner‘s life is equally complicated by her relationship, or lack thereof, with her daughter (Sandra Dee). Keiko or “Mama-san” (Hideko Takamine), as she is known by all, is one of the women living in this world. The film keeps dwelling on that face, Keiko/Takamine’s exquisite instrument, registering revulsion or censure. 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. when you spend $25 on participating products. What is it about Naruse’s films that touches this belated responsive chord? 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. 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. 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. When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (1960) External Reviews. Better Than Food 6,604 views. 4.6 89%. See Full Cast + Crew for When a Woman Ascends the Stairs Features Load More Features Movie Reviews Presented by Rotten Tomatoes. Patrons go to bars to escape the pressures of the world, the responsibilities of their … 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”). When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (Cert PG) Peter Bradshaw @PeterBradshaw1. 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Because they hold the power. When A Woman Ascends The Stairs (Japan 1960, dir. She weeps for herself, but do we weep for and with her? 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. 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. She's of an age when she must choose: to seek … 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. 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. 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. Love hotels, geishas and hordes of hostesses to go with them. She plays Keiko, a widow who supports herself as a bar madam, the chief attraction in whatever bar she works, by virtue of her beauty and superior refinement (hence the honorific Mama). 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. Movies. Still, her entire existence can be summed up by one early shot: presenting the daunting stairs winding up ahead of her toward her livelihood. Every cut conveys the solitary partiality of each character’s viewpoint, even the most minor. 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