If there are two things to learn from the 1960 Japanese movie, When a Woman Ascends the Stairs, they are: 1) life is cruel and 2) it’s a man’s world.
The Criterion DVD box description reads:
…a delicate, devastating study of a woman who works as a bar hostess in Tokyo’s very modern postwar Ginza district, entertaining businessmen after work. Sly, resourceful, but trapped, Keiko comes to embody the conflicts and struggles of a woman trying to establish her independence in a male-dominated society.
This is an attractive, heartbreaking film featuring the captivating and caged Hideko Takamine as the heroine Keiko, and Tatsuya Nakadai, the cool, calm, and collected bar manager who is secretly in love with her. A story about a woman living a life of quiet desperation, it’s undramatically tragic. Definitely worth watching, if for nothing else than the costume design and overall Japan aesthetic of the time.
And speaking of Tatsuya Nakadai, the prolific actor with large eyes and a chiseled visage, you can watch him in Kill! (Kiru) as part of the museum’s Sixties Swordplay film series on Target Sunday, August 2. If he looks familiar, it’s because he’s been in countless notable films.
He even played the aging, ruined warlord in the epic Ran!
Come check out the samurai films on Sunday, August 2. Also, When a Woman Ascends the Stairs is available at the SF Main Library, right next door to the museum!
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