Growing up, Big Trouble In Little China was easily my favorite film, so it comes as no surprise how much I enjoy films like Encounter of the Spooky Kind which delivers a manic concoction of horror, comedy, and martial arts mayhem. Effectively spawning a genre, Encounter of The Spooky Kind deploys such kinetic energy in its formal style and general film grammar which perfectly matches the infectious lead performance by Sammo Hung - one of my favorite comedic performances by him. The escalation of the narrative leads to an absolutely memorable finale and the general voracious appetite the film has for dynamism is just so hard not to love. When you really step back and think about it, Encounter of the Spooky Kind is a story of spousal sabotage and attempted murder, a narrative typically associated with rather dark, dramatic sensibilities, yet the treatment here is imbued with such a proclivity towards comedy and vibrancy that I found the whole thing irresistibly alluring. The final denouement when Hung finally comes face to face with his wife - absolutely hilarious, I was as the kids would say hooting and hollering.
Not as great as I remember but still quite effective, particularly in how it seamlessly oscillates between jovial humor to the moral seriousness of the situation, never undercutting either aspect over the course of its narrative. The comedic sensibilities reinforce the thematic intent - the anarchic outbursts and absurd antics of its lead characters are fueled by frustrations related to institutional, structural, and personal ineptitude - their best-laid plans and noble intentions lead them nowhere in the end. The structural failings of society to deal with such depravity and the psychological agony abject failure places on those, who despite consistent perseverance and obsessive desire, fail. Still remains one of Bong's best, without question, but he has yet to craft a film that I would consider a true masterwork.
How the smallest indiscretions when not accounted for or met head-on progressively escalate into destructive, near-irreparable transgressions. Naruse really never misses when it comes to excavating the underlying pain and sadness that often lurks beneath the veneer of Japan's societal civility. Sudden Rain is a slyly pointed critique of traditional marriage and the subjugation of femininity told through a deeply effective tragedy. Setsuko Hara masterfully exudes the tortured psyche of a woman who does so much for her husband yet receives so little in return. The strength of this woman despite her status is beautifully juxtaposed with her husband, a man that projects strength only to be extremely fragile; a coward whose strength in many ways is predicated through psychological oppression of his wife's own autonomy. There are so many small moments of profound sadness throughout this simple, effective story in which Naruse's precise visual tableaux - particularly his use of blocking, enunciates the underlying sadness and combustibility of this relationship in which love itself simply feels non-existent due to this imbalance of power in their relationship. Yet, through it all Naruse remains hopeful in his denouement, the couple engaging in a volley of an inflatable ball, the repetition back and forth serving as a symbolic device about the symbiotic nature of a relationship, where both parties strengthen each other to keep moving forward in spite of the external obstacles.
Love of all things cinema brought me here.