09 September 2005

Toshio Matsumoto!

Here's a little bit of Synchronicity. Just a few seconds ago, I was thinking to myself that it's an incredible pity there there is basically NO English-Language resource for Toshio Matsumoto's stuff. (He's the guy who directed Funeral Parade of Roses if, for some reason, you don't memorize names of Obscure Japanese Avant-Garde Directors.) And while staring bored at my screen, I clicked the the Masters of Cinema link on my start page and found this:

In other news, Toshio Matsumoto's "lost" English-language documentary film Ginrin (1955), featuring the music of Toru Takemitsu, has been found. Ginrin was Matsumoto's first film, according to his filmography. The film was screened during the National Film Center's Lost and Found 2005 event. A future DVD release is planned. In the meantime, we are thoroughly enjoying the recently released 3xDVD box set Toshio Matsumoto: Experimental Film Works 1961-1987.

So, how cool is that? It always makes me real happy-like when a lost film is found, but this is particularly cool. I've still only seen Bara no soretsu, but that was enough to make me into a fan, so I'm real happy about that.

But, still, though, I wish there were more English Language stuff about his work. I mean, hell, there wasn't even an entry in Wikipedia until I added one! (Also had to add one on Peter.) Outside of that, the closest thing I've found is a Google Translation of that page about the new Box Set of shorts (which I am also jonesin' for, along with the Box Set of Four Features, including Bara No Soretsu). There's very little in the way of filmographies, too, the best I could find is telling Google to translate the Japanese one linked by MoC... Oh well.

I've even mentioned it to The Criterion Collection that they should look into this. (Via the "Ask Jon Mulvaney" thing, it's not like I've got any special connections... at least not when I'm awake...) I think I used the phrase "I would be the happiest boy in the whole US of A" to open my letter to them.

Anyway, though, yeah -- I just wanted to mention that, because it's cool when lost films are found, and who knows -- we might even get the upcoming DVD in this country (I can dream... Or, more accurately, Import It From Japan...)

Also, though, this has nothing to do with Matsumoto, but I'm off to see the Found Footage Festival tonight, so hopefully that'll be awesome.


Blogger Lee H. said...

Wow, that IS synchronicity! :)

I still haven't seen Funeral Parade Of Roses, but it's on the must-see list...

It's interesting that Ginrin was this guy's FIRST film, and not a late attempt to reach a Western audience.

And man, you are right, Criterion should be all over this guy. I hope they actually read their email. :)

10:36 PM, September 09, 2005  
Blogger Rev. Syung Myung Me said...

Yeah -- the English Language thing kinda threw me, too, actually. I wonder if it was always English Langauge (I'd assume, but it could be a situation where for some reason, some obscure, experimental Japanese documentary short was translated to English and it is only one of these prints which still surives). Or, if it's "English Language", i.e. some sort of surreal/hilarious English Narration that has little to nothing to do with what is on screen. (or if it's like Savages where it's used for a joke.)

And yeah -- I've heard that Criterion are really good, particularly if you ask them a question; I haven't heard back, but I phrased mine more like "I know this is a long shot and that you don't have the rights, but I don't know who, if anyone, DOES have the US rights, so you might look into it", so they might not have seen any need to reply. (And, hey, it couldn't hurt if you were all "Hey, this Toshio Matsumoto guy? Y'all'd probably click." too..8) (Seriously, I think they would, particularly with Criterion's new (and vaguely surprising, though I am SO not complaining) Suzuki obsession. But, hey, I dig Suzuki quite a bit, so I'm glad for it. And, seriously, I could see Bara no soretsu sitting right next to Branded to Kill. Forget -- have you seen Branded to Kill? If not, check that out!)

4:00 AM, September 10, 2005  
Blogger Lee H. said...

No, never seen Branded To Kill... I'll add it to the list. :)

11:13 AM, September 10, 2005  
Blogger Rev. Syung Myung Me said...

Ah, TOTALLY check Branded to Kill out. The cool thing with that is that it's actually readily available here. I pretty much always see it in stores, which is cool. I've picked it up several times and shown it to the person I was with and said "THIS IS GOOD. YOU SHOULD GET IT." but no one does. Except for people I've actually shown the film. So, yeah. It's a surrealistic yakuza picture, and the reason for Suzuki's blackballing in the film industry and being only allowed to do TV programs/direct-to-tape until very recently.

Criterion's been putting a bunch of Suzuki stuff out lately. I don't have the two new ones (Gate of Flesh; Story of a Prostitute) yet, but I've got the others. They're all pretty good, but Branded to Kill is my favorite by far. There was also a sequel/remake, too, Pistol Opera which is available (but not via Criterion; I think it's on Manga or something, even though it's not anime), but it's not nearly as good. It's a little too indulgent, really.

Speaking of cool Japanese films, have you seen Hideaki Anno (director of Neon Genesis Evangelion, His & Her Circumstances and he's worked on a bunch of Ghibli stuff)'s Love & Pop, his Live Action Debut? It's really, really good (even though the US box art makes it look like some Japanese Softcore Flic. The primary image on the sleeve is a big shot of the four girls in bikinis, which wasn't even in the damn movie. I've seen the box art for the japanese release, and that was all... classy.

One of those links references All About Lily Chou-Chou, which I'd actually really like to see -- seems interesting.

12:57 PM, September 10, 2005  
Blogger Rev. Syung Myung Me said...

While working on a MeFi Post that I"m planning on making on the same subject, I found this -- an English Language Interview!

So, like, y'all heard it here first. I guess.

5:08 PM, September 11, 2005  
Blogger Lee H. said...

That's a great interview. Matsumoto sounds like quite the intellectual... from the stills I've seen of Funeral Parade of Roses, I can see the connection to his background in visual arts. (Peter Greenaway, one of my favorite directors, is also a painter and art historian, and it shows in his films, too.)

11:25 AM, September 13, 2005  
Blogger Rev. Syung Myung Me said...

Yeah -- I really wish I could find more of that sort. (Part of the problem is that his name is relatively common as well... "Matsumoto" is one of those "Smith" or "Jones" type names, unfortunately. I think it's funny that while the first couple of google results are related to the director, the 5th is for A Singaporean Shipping Professional. And the tenth is some sort of scientist, eleventh is a martial arts fighter guy, and hey, it's another Interview with Toshio Matsumoto (.... if you mean the guy who developed a digital camera).

Also, I concur on Greenaway, even though I don't really like his movies (though I've only seen A Zed & Two Noughts, his segment for Lumiere & Company and Windows) pretty much every frame of his is amazingly composed, and you could put pretty much any arbitrary frame (at least from, say, Zed) on your wall. (And, I have to admit, the time-lapse-decay segments of Zed WERE really, really awesome. But then I actually kind of dig that sort of thing. It was really interesting.)

2:16 PM, September 13, 2005  
Blogger Rev. Syung Myung Me said...

For the record, I actually just did hear from Criterion w/r/t my request, but it was just a generic thing saying (paraphrased) "Hey, we get a lot of requests, but thanks a lot! Sorry we can't reply individually, but, you know. We HAVE forwarded it on to acquisitions and a lot of CC films are stuff that came to our attention via requests!"

(So, you know, if you want to get the exact phrasing, you can send in your own Toshio Matsumoto request....8)

2:55 PM, September 13, 2005  
Blogger Lee H. said...

Well, cool... I know they DO actually pay attention to requests, based on stuff I've read (like this!), so I probably WILL hit them up with an email soon. :)

3:32 PM, September 13, 2005  

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