Leave the cannoli, take the movies

Review Blog

My Favorite Films - #6

Posted by Jonathan Leithold-Patt on November 18, 2010 at 6:33 PM


10. 2001: A Space Odyssey

09. The Passion of Joan of Arc

08. M

07. The Bicycle Thief

And up next is number...

#6  -    Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters    PAUL SCHRADER, 1985

        Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters is the prime example of film as an art form front and center, a joyous, kaleidoscopic salutation to moving pictures and their unparalleled ability to convey and elicit the most powerful of human emotions. It is spectacularly compelling, overwhelmingly forceful, a supremely innovative, endlessly original biopic investigating the mind of an artist… who he is hardly matters, but in this case he is the insanely brilliant and brilliantly insane Japanese author/playwright Yukio Mishima. Exploring his exhausted, contradictory, and impossibly searching psyche, the film weaves in and out of real life and imagination while illustrating in otherworldly bursts of color his famous published works. The visuals in this movie are unlike anything else, magnificently composed, flawlessly designed set pieces and aesthetics that build in exquisite structure before your eyes like rapidly evolving origami, taking on shapes and reproducing colors that form collage-like symphonies and spellbinding operatic movements. Topped with a transcendent score from Philip Glass, Mishima’s eternal desire to have his life imitate his art, and vice-versa, has finally become reality.

       It's incredible, and incredibly unfortunate, how underseen a film this is. This is startling visual power on the same level as 2001, for all I'm concerned, equally revolutionary and epic in its sprawling design, but even more revelant when placed inside the meta-context of the film as a piece of art about art. It is especially important to me as an artist, a testament to the influence and emotions one's work can summon, while at the same time making amply evident the universal struggle for complete artistic satisfaction in a physical world that always has its set limits. We live, we create, and we bask in all the glories, but Mishima understands the inevitable pain of transience - and at the same time reassures us that some things do and can last. This stirring, sensual film is an example, and anyone who cares about the form would do well to experience it at least once in their lifetimes.

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Categories: My Favorite Films

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