Ugetsu

Ugetsu ★★★★★

The last movie I expected to think of while watching Kenji Mizoguchi's 1953 masterpiece Ugetsu again recently (first time on a big screen in 35mm) was…Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street. But there's something about the machismo underlying the behavior of its male characters in Mizoguchi's film—Genjuro (Masayuki Mori), so bent on fulfilling his role as the family provider that he's willing to risk his wife and kid's lives for the sake of his pottery wares; and Tobei (Sakae Ozawa), who dreams of samurai glory without any discernible physical talents to back up his ambitions—that fleetingly reminded me of the more outwardly outsize behavior of Jordan Belfort, Donnie Azoff and company. To my mind, there's not that much of a difference between Genjuro secretly returning to his village in order to try to retrieve his precious pots, and Belfort defiantly keeping his firm going—both characters daring others to catch them simply in order to satisfy their macho pride. Naturally, of course, Genjuro is much more covert about it than the showboating Belfort is—but then, that's in keeping with the wildly contrasting tenor of the respective films they are both in.

Oh, and Ugetsu is still as much a harsh, beautiful and profound masterpiece as it ever was.