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4 Spotlight Santa Cruz Sentinel Friday March 21, 1986 I KA 'Mishima' compelling mood piece V' -rt fq TfV my V't li I 1 1 s- 1 hi regally-uniformed army with the purpose of saving Japanese society from decadence by restoring the Emperor. Ken Ogata superbly plays the mature Mishima; a series of boys play him through his childhood, and other actors portray the alter-egos he created to inhabit his writings. Working from the screenplay he co-authored, director Schrader has to overcome two levels of "foreign-ness" for western viewers: He has to make his audience familiar enough with the society and circumstances around the young writer before showing the unique ways he convoluted them into his art. Toward this end be is daring and flamboyant, adopting a variety of highly-stylized techniques to illustrate facets of Mishima's evolving vision. Historical flashbacks unfold in black-and-white; scenes from his writings are staged, literally, with impressionistic sets and bold colors signaling their unreality.
Despite the attention these stylistic devices call to themselves, they work surprisingly well illustrating the glaring contrasts in Mishima's life, and the rigid discipline he found to create art out of them. Separating art from self-deception, on the other hand, seemed a harder task for him. In a way, the author's downfall was his belief in absolutes perfect beauty, immortality, a permanent process for fusing art and life. His pursuit of each until it became an obsessive fetish may be the legacy he left, more than his writings themselves. Concentration is a hallmark of Ogata's performance, forging the extreme poles of Mishima's psyche into a compelling characterization which makes the writer's actions more understandable, if not any more rational.
And Schrader's efforts behind the camera give the film an original sheen, resonating into mental realms that don't usually get tweaked by movies. But, for all the art in this project, both in its thematic concerns and in its own style, "Mishima" fails to engage its viewers on an emotional level. It remains as abstract as its garishly-lit stage sets, playing with the viewers' minds in intriguing ways, but leaving their hearts By RICK CHATENEVER Sentinel Staff Writer FIRST came the Toyotas, and the Nikons and Sonys and Pan-asonics. Now meet Yukio Mishima, one strange fellow, who's leading the Japanese invasion onto American movie screens. Well, actually "Mishima" is the other Japanese movie in town this week.
"Gung Ho" is the big one, the one that tries to make us laugh. This one, now playing at the Nickelodeon, is the one that makes us wonder. Mishima himself was a convoluted study in contrasts, a sickly child raised by his grandmother who lied his way out of the draft, then went on to become obsessed with body building and military pomp and discipline. His homosexuality led him to a fixation with male beauty as he quested for perfection and immortality. His stark, highly stylized and symbolic writings made him his country's most popular and celebrated author following World War II, but wasn't translated in the West.
Indeed, he might have remained little more than a footnote to world literature, were it not for the bizarre way he chose to end his life one day in 1970. Ironically, Mishima 's biography goes heavy on those old staples of American moviedom: sex and violence. But the fact that he sought to create an aesthetic of each provides an intriguing twist just the sort of thing to attract American director Paul Schrader. Two other biggies in the U.S. film industry Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas footed the bills as executive producers of the project, believing Mishima's twisted soul a more accurate map of Japanese culture than the cutesy version that comes out of projects like "Gung Ho." Mishima's slightly ridiculous death illuminated his equally peculiar life and art, and director Schrader has structured his film as "A Life in Four Chapters" to let actual and fictional events mirror one another.
With highly stylized plotting, strikingly original art design, and a very effective musical score by Philip Glass, Schrader provides a meditation rather than a story. "Mishima" is a compelling mood piece which seeks an ingenious balance between the author's inner Yukio Mishima ONMOVIES "fHE MONEY PnV opening Wednesday at the Scotts Valley Cinema This is another "Steven Spielberg presents" production, which should guarantee at least the first half of the title. Whether or not it's the pits remains to be seen. Tom Hanks (pictured) and Shelley Long co-star as a couple trying to cement their relationship by buying the ultimate fixer-upper in the multiple listing catalogue. Richard Benjamin directs the comedy even though as everyone who's ever tried to fix up a house and fix up a relationship at the same time knows, it's not that easy and it's not that funny, either.
and outer worlds, but never quite comes to rest in either one. Set on the day of Mishima's final, fateful act, the film flashes back and forth through time, tracing the evolutions of Mishima's imagination and obsessions. Toward the end of his life be even created his own. SCREEN I POLICE ACADEMY 3 Fri. CG) No Coupon or Bargain Times for This Show GO-DOTS (G) All Shows For Go-Bott $2.50 I 478 Union Str Ken Ogata as SHOWTIHUt "CBAXT" 7,00 10:30 thegow must Be (PG) "A TOTAL DELIGHT tUMrLETcLY CAPTIVATING.
BccncGUiMrsi nicceacur tor Rd. NEW YORK POST SCREEN I -MOUH" M-IOilS "runiM" tUH) THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD! rS mm mm mmdtr aft 14 ImiMMbH Ut. alaM Brim -imipulii iMtkf A funny, sensitive, beautifully written movie." -jock Math USA TODAY (PG-13) MATT DILLON 324 FRONT 426-9409 S2.M 'M si) SCREEN II NIGHTLY "WUKATf 'iO-10tlS 'Wildcats' is a Dtvid AnnL NEWSWEEK GOLDIE HAWN CO-HITI KEVIN BACON UlCKSIiyERB Z3 Wtonvlll 728-3300 WANT ADS WORK FOR FAST RESULTS CALL TODAY! 426-8000 SCREEN tt Wall Dhfwy Production SLEEPING BEAUTY Fri. 1 SCREEN til HOUSE (R) Fri. CO-HIT HIGHLANDER (r, Fri.
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