J.M. Vargas wrote:Welcome to the world of a new master director. So much great stuff ("Sansho the Bailiff," "Sisters of the Gion," "Streets of Shame," "The Life of Oharu," etc.) you have yet to experience, not including the obligatory rewatch-with-commentary second viewing of "Ugetsu." The movie isn't 100% perfect because of the Tobei/Ohama arc of the story (IMO) who become the Mertz's to the Ricardo's Genjurô/Miyagi main story. Eitarô Ozawa's portrayal of Tobei is a little too broad and slapstick-heavy. His reunion with abandoned-wife-turned-prostitute Omaha (Mitsuko Mito) should have been a highlight, instead coming across as a check mark to cross out in Mizoguchi's 'to do' shooting script. Tony Rayns' commentary track (Criterion DVD) explains somewhat why the Tobei/Ohama stories were filmed like they are. Still, the next-to-last scene is simply too awesome for words; when it comes, how it unfolds, the way it's lit/shot/performed... just WOW!
I actually enjoyed the Tobei/Omaha story. 1.It brings some levity to the film,thus enrichng its emotional palette. 2.It supports the theme of men letting women fend for themselves. 3.The rape/prostitution thing seems historically accurate. As for Ozawa's portrayal I felt it was in line with other portrayals ofthe fool in Japanese films of this period e.g. Hidden Fortress. Yeah it's obviously a sideline, but I would miss it if it was cut.