Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Ghost of Yotsuya

The Ghost of Yotsuya AKA Ghost Story of Yotsuya
seen @ Spectacle Theater, Brooklyn NY

I think my first interest in the paranormal began when I was maybe around nine or ten perhaps. I don't remember what it was that sparked it, but I do remember being fascinated with the idea of ghosts and telekinesis and stuff like that, and in particular I remember wishing that I could see a ghost one day. Of course, being a kid, I had no idea what I would do if I were to see a ghost, besides wet my pants, which may be why my initial interest in it didn't last.

My friend Sam actually takes part in expeditions to "haunted houses." I forget how often she and her friends do it, but they go around Central Ohio looking for houses and buildings that supposedly have some kind of supernatural jazz going on. She's posted images on her Facebook page of things that kinda sorta look like a ghost if you look at them long enough and squint your eyes, but they could just as easily be... I dunno, anything else. I think she does it more for fun than for any Agent Mulder-like hardcore belief in the supernatural.

I do believe there are certain things in this world that can't be explained by science - yet. One should remember that we know way more about our world now than we did even a generation ago, and while the gap likely won't be closed within even our grandchildren's lifetimes, it'll be a hell of a lot smaller by then. And the natural world has plenty of bizarre things in it as it is.

I'm told that The Ghost of Yotsuya is a story that dates back to a 19th-century Japanese play and has been filmed over thirty times. It's basically The Crow with swordplay: abused wife of a samurai dies at her husband's hands, comes back as a ghost for revenge. Don't expect any Kurosawa-type sword fights in this one; the few such scenes are lackluster and strangely choreographed. As for gore, there's a little, but by contemporary standards, it's not peek-between-your-fingers bad. What impressed me most about this one was its cinematography and use of color. It reminded me of Powell and Pressburger, the British duo responsible for classics like Black Narcissus and A Matter of Life and Death. I'd recommend this movie for its looks alone.

I saw Yotsuya in a new venue, the Spectacle Theater in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. To call it a theater is perhaps an overstatement; it's basically a tiny screening room - about 25-30 seats. It hasn't been fully renovated and it's very bare bones, but the sound and picture quality was good, and the proprietors clearly have a deep passion and knowledge of movies, if they're showing movies like this (for only five bucks!). I happened to be one of the first to arrive, and I thought perhaps their total audience would be me and the kid across the room from me reading a book, but then more and more people arrived, until the place was almost completely full! Should've known that even a joint as tiny as this would attract an audience in Hipster Ground Zero in New York City.

The seats just barely fit me, and of course, there was no legroom for me at all. I had to twist my legs out into the aisle, which was not all that roomy either. The back was low; another minus. The emcee said that among their upcoming events was a twelve-hour horror marathon, and I couldn't help but shudder at the thought of spending twelve hours in here. Don't get me wrong, though; the Spectacle plays a very eclectic and challenging lineup of films, from what I saw of the trailers they played before the film and the schedule on their website, and anyplace that does that gets a pass from me.

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