by guest writer
The Naked Island (1960) will probably seem to many of you not likely to have been made in the sound era. Entirely written by director Kaneto Shindô, the movie places itself on one of the many small islands part of the Setonaikai Archipelago in Japan. The drama of the inhabitants of those islands is the core of the film. Sometimes giving the impression of a purely documentary artifact, The Naked Island achieves more than that through powerful visual elements conducted by cinematographer Kiyomi Kuroda. Even the most awful drought becomes a symbol of human endurance. The landscapes captured by camera, with its low angles, deep focus and wonderful crisp black and white, create a similar artistic achievement to F.W. Murnau’s last masterpiece, Tabu (1931).
When they bring water in their small fishermen boat for the plants they grow on the island, Toyo (Nabuko Otawa) and Senta (Taiji Tonoyama) paddle in such a manner that shows their deep involvement with their family’s welfare. You get the notion that the actors are non-professional due to their natural performances that make you believe they are real peasants. I was staggered to discovered that all of them were professionals. The movie’s poetic and lyrical feel is also amplified by the fact that the film is almost silent. No more than 2 minutes of speaking can be heard in more than 90 minutes. The childhood is another element presented in such a beautiful and tragic way, which makes the film unique. Hikaru Hayashi composed the soundtrack of the movie which completes this worldwide cinematic treasure. The music plays when needed and in a meaningful and touching way.
photo: still from the film / credit: Kindai Eiga Kyokai
Here are my latest finds and news from style, fashion, film, design and beautiful living.
• Stripped of any kind of embellishment, Kerrie Yeung jewelry is a study in simplicity and craftsmanship. Kerrie’s minimalist designs, handcrafted in the designer’s studio in Brooklyn, are beautiful and delicate. They are pieces that make a subtle statement and evoke a perfectly undone elegance. New classics.
• Anya Caliendo will present her SS 2014 Collection of Couture Hats, “Confessions” at New York Fashion Week this September. Congratulations, Anya!
• Until Woody Allen’s new film, Blue Jasmine, arrives in our cinemas (can not wait to see Cate Blanchett!), I loved reading Mary Jo’s great post on the fashion in the movie
• And as long as we are on the subject, here is praising the undone beauty of Woody Allen’s female leads
• Hartwood is a Mexican, farm to table, 100% solar powered restaurant where all meals are created by hand (no electrical appliances!). It’s all about getting back to the basics, using slow roasting and open fire cooking to prepare meals for diners.
• A Swedish Love Story (1970), by Roy Andersson: one of the most beautiful teenage love stories seen on screen
• A gorgeous lavender farm photographed on film – that’s what makes it all the more special
• Cristóbal Balenciaga in his French manor home
• Workshop: saddler and leather craftsman Philippe Le Noën. I’ve just discovered Fantastic Provence, a magazine brimming with lifestyle inspiration. Have a look!
I wish you a wonderful weekend, filled with laughter and good times!
Note: You may have noticed that the Notebook Pages series is bimonthly during the summer
photos: courtesy of Kerrie Yeung, published with permission
I place Luis Buñuel’s autobiography, My Last Sigh, in the same category with Jean Renoir’s, My Life and My Films. Another great film maker who recounts his life with cordiality and disarming candour, showing the skills of a story teller. Without dedicating too much in the book to his films (I hardly expected him to explain his movies), Buñuel keeps the story centered on his personal life. I enjoyed this approach, as it made me realise how many things in his films were taken directly from or influenced by real life, but also because it felt reassuring. Reassuring because, due to his surprising simplicity and modesty, he makes you believe that a wonderful, accomplished life is truly possible. Maybe I was not surprised to find out that Luis Buñuel was an eternal dreamer, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover his good sense of humour. I’ll tell you only this: it was entertaining to read his sometimes scornful opinions on the literati and artists of the time.
“If we could only find the courage to leave our destiny to chance, to accept the fundamental mystery of our lives, then we might be closer to the sort of happiness that comes with innocence.” (Luis Buñuel, quote from the book)
photo by me
Here comes class! I heart this laid-back glamour, the almost by accident elegance. Attitude, fabulous wide trousers, buttoned-up shirt with its short sleeves turned up, disheveled short hair, modest setting. I can’t help but think about Katharine Hepburn, how she arrived like a tidal wave in Hollywood and how her behaviour irritated studio managers, being too sophisticated to be to everyone’s taste.
photo: Miguel Reveriego for Wonderland, September 2011 | Kirsten Dunst styled by Grace Cobb