Best known for his assiduously constructed samurai-era drama Ugetsu, 20th-century Japanese director Kenji Mizoguchi is famed for his rehearsed and painterly mise-en-scène style and long takes inspired by the work of Josef von Sternberg and others. And his last film, Street of Shame (more aptly titled Red-Light District in Japan), follows suit. A sympathetic view of post-war prostitutes that boasts a superb ensemble of mid-century Japanese actresses, the film explores the stuff of dreams, both in terms of day-to-day reality and metaphorically in a Tokyo brothel called Dreamland, through the interwoven stories of five women.
While it's not known as Mizoguchi's best, Street of Shame is still an eyeful and a worthy entry in an ongoing Japanese Cinema 1932-1984 series currently being hosted by the Boulder Public Library Film Series. It screens tonight at 7 p.m. in the BPL Canyon Theater, 1000 Canyon Boulevard, Boulder; admission is free. For more information visit the film series website or call 303-441-3197.
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