Fall Arts Preview: Film Listings

Mikio Naruse: A Centennial Tribute

Friday, Sep. 30—Monday, Oct. 10. Harvard Film Archive. Tickets $8; students and seniors $6. Tickets at the Harvard Film Archive.

Although no less eminent than Yasujiro Ozu or Akira Kurosawa in the canon of Japanese cinema, director Mikio Naruse has remained largely unknown to mainstream Western audiences.

To bring attention to this “forgotten” director, the Harvard Film Archive, in collaboration with the Museum of Fine Arts Film Program, has launched a centennial tribute to this Japanese auteur, featuring a 19-film retrospective.

These selected films, created between 1930 and 1967, are paradigmatic of Naruse’s directorial style. Each features the trials of a female protagonist while examining working class conflicts and cultural frictions produced by the clash between tradition and modern Japanese culture.

Unique among this series is 1935’s “Wife, Be Like a Rose,” differentiated from Naruse’s other works by its light tone and comedic conclusion. In contrast, the majority of his other pictures are characterized by a harshly austere, nearly nihilistic, neorealist perspective, heightened by Naruse’s minimalist style in which his central characters find only defeat.

However, as in one of his more recognized films, “When a Woman Ascends the Stairs”—a tale of an aging bar madam facing certain moral compromise and marking one of his many collaborations with actress Hideko Takamine—his heroines are proud and willful, only too aware of the reality of their situations and yet desperate to continue struggling.

ONE TO WATCH: “Floating Clouds.” Based on a novel by female writer Fumiko Hayashi, often considered as Naruse’s muse, the film is recognized as one of Japan’s greatest tales of obsessive love, a story of woman bound by circumstance and self-delusion, determined to pursue a romance to its tragic conclusion.

—Isabel J. Boero

LBGT Film Festival

Wednesday, Sep. 21—Wednesday, Nov. 30 Harvard Film Archive or Quincy House Junior Common Room as listed. Free and open to the public.

Over the next few months, Harvard students can see a series of movies with one sentiment in common: they all seek to promote understanding of different lifestyles. The Harvard Film Archive (HFA), in conjunction with a number of other awareness organizations—including the Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, and Supporters Alliance—is presenting the LBGT (Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, Transgendered) Film Series.

The series, which began two weeks ago with “The Celluloid Closet” (1996, dirs. Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman) and “Midnight Cowboy” (1969, dir. John Schlesinger), is largely the brainchild of History and Literature tutor Timothy P. McCarthy ‘93, who is the BGLTS Advisor in Quincy House and curator of the 2005 LBGT Film Series.

The idea for the film series was born partially out of a course on the history of gay life that McCarthy is planning to teach in the spring. He plans to incorporate movies as entertaining as John Waters’ “Hairspray” (1988) and as serious as the Oscar-winning “Boys Don’t Cry” (1999, dir. Kimberly Pierce).

“Students can use film to understand post-Stonewall history and queer culture in America,” McCarthy says, referring to the now-famous 1969 police raid on a gay club which ignited the modern gay rights movement. Secondly, McCarthy expressed a desire to make LBGT issues more visible on campus. “The university should be place where these issues are debated and discussed.”

McCarthy has stressed the positive reaction from both Harvard students as well as the community of Cambridge. McCarthy noted that nearly half of the audience at last Wednesday’s screening was from outside Harvard.