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Author Topic: Seijun Suzuki's Voice Without A Shadow (1958)  (Read 82 times)
morrison-dylan-fan
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« on: November 16, 2017, 09:07:03 PM »


Blu-Ray 8

** This review may contain spoilers ***

After seeing Nobuo Nakagawa's outstanding Film Noir Onna shikeishű no datsugoku,I started trying to think up of a second title to watch for a Asia Noir double bill. Despite hearing about him for years,I have somehow missed out on catching a glimpse of auteur Seijun Suzuki. Buying Arrow's Nikkatsu Diamond Guys Vol 1 recently,I was thrilled to discover that one of the diamonds in the set is a Suzuki creation.

The plot:

Working at a call centre, Asako Takahashi helps to connect each call at lightning fast speed. Preparing to connect a call, Asako hears that she is trying to connect to the wrong line,when she hears a murder taking place. The only person to hear the voice of whoever did the killing, Asako is asked by the cops to listen to 100's of voices,but fails to catch a match.

3 years later:

Keen to build on their working relationships, Asako's husband Shigeo Kotani invites work mates Kawai, Hamazaki, and Muraoka to play some late night gambling. Seeing them play late into the night,Asako starts sitting in the next room waiting for Kotani to return. Listening in on them one night, Asako's hears a voice that sounds chillingly familiarů

View on the film:

Pulling diamonds from Nikkatsu studios long history, Arrow Video present a crystal clear Blu-Ray transfer,with the picture transfer being sharp,but retaining the Film Noir grit,and the soundtrack being perfectly clean.Working as an "in-house" studio director for his 10th movie, director Seijun Suzuki & cinematographer Kazue Nagatsuka transmit peculiar, off-the-wall surrealism into the Film Noir reception,from a murderer re-naming the location of the killing "The funeral centre",to an ominous omen of a chicken being plucked.

Listening in on Asako's calls,Suzuki and Nagatsuka pick up the phone to stylish Film Noir,with superb,ultra-stylised tracking and crane shots gliding round the house as Asako attempts to stay out of sight,being crossed with clipped camera moves round the side streets of Japan going up the youth coffee shops,and down into the Film Noir coal of the underworld. Calling up Seich˘ Matsumoto's novel Koe,the screenplay by Ryuta Akimoto and Susumu Saji crosses the wires of Film Noir with the first major wave of Giallo that was still a few years away (!),where Asako forming a team with a journalist leads to a gripping desire to finally close the cold case,as recurring fragments of the call haunt Asako in her dreams.

Solving the case with a marvellous Agatha Christie/Giallo-style final flashback, the writers cover the mystery in glittering Film Noir grit, via the constant invitations Kotani gives to his work pals to come round leading to an excellent groove of pessimism to be cast between Kotani and Asako,who expresses her frustrations in snappy asides that Kotani fails to pick up on,but those with deadly intentions do not miss. One of the few ladies to get top billing in this era of Japanese "genre" cinema, Y˘ko Minamida gives a brilliant performance as Asako,thanks to Minamida highlighting the Noir isolation that Asako is trapped in,not only from the chilling awareness of hearing an unsolved murder,but also seeing Kotani fade into the darkness of the underworld,as the shadow finds a voice.

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XhcnoirX
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« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2017, 09:26:08 AM »

Nice review & ticked Smiley

The lead actress is great, and it's got some tense, suspenseful Hitchock-ian scenes, but I didn't enjoy it quite as much as you did. 7/10 for me.

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'I feel all dead inside. I'm backed up in a dark corner and I don't know who's hitting me.' - The Dark Corner (1946)
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« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2017, 07:15:45 PM »

Hi XHC,thank you for the kind words (and the tick!) and looking at her creditsI've found that the actress is in a highly-praised Comedy that Masters of Cinema have put out:

A Sun-Tribe Myth from the Bakumatsu Era:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/BAKUMATSU-TAIY%C3%94-DEN-Masters-Cinema-Blu-ray/dp/B06XT3SMH2/ref=tmm_blu_title_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Being the first movie I've seen by him,I was wondering what Suzuki's other movies are like?

At the moment,I'm putting a bit aside each week for this Suzuki set Arrow are bringing out in Jan:

https://www.arrowfilms.co.uk/shop/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=1025


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XhcnoirX
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« Reply #3 on: November 20, 2017, 05:10:08 AM »

Being the first movie I've seen by him,I was wondering what Suzuki's other movies are like?

This was my second one, so I'm anything but a Suzuki expert, heh... But I can wholeheartedly recommend Branded To Kill aka Koroshi No Rakuin (1967), the other movie of his that I've seen. It's got tons of style and beautiful cinematography, lotsa violence and sex, and while it doesn't bring anything new to the table story-wise, it's a weird and unique movie all the same. It's the movie (the final straw) that got Suzuki blacklisted for about a decade...

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'I feel all dead inside. I'm backed up in a dark corner and I don't know who's hitting me.' - The Dark Corner (1946)
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