Tanaka: New Tale of Zatoichi (1963)

The radiators are screaming like lobsters boiling alive, outside the sounds of things coming and going, wind whistling in the tree, sirens, planes zipping around, in short, a frighteningly noisy night. A week ago the place was a cornucopia of delights, breads, fruits, juices, yogurts, everything a boy could want. But now, it’s back to Frosted Flakes for dinner, there might be a spare apple, it might be soft on the bottom.

I had a little party last night. Not a Halloween party, just a party. We drank Abbey Cocktails and took turns sitting on our three chairs. I have four mugs, but they were too hot to drink from, so there was drinking from measuring cups instead. It reminds me that for ten years I’ve been hanging out with Charlie, we do the same things as when we were young.

I’m still overwhelmed, but I’m beginning to get back to swimming with the current rather than against it.

When they switched to color, they also switched to a director who seemed particular fit for filming in color. The lengthy shots of forest landscapes are magical even forty years later, and that’s a lovely thing, mastering color the instant it becomes available, a sort of timeless mastery that only can be called ‘classic’ since it stands up to whatever high-def version of beauty is available now. And in that beauty one senses the blindness of Zatoichi all the more, as he becomes part of the landscapes, hobbling slowly and silently across the screen, stopping to sniff and swallow in that horrid way we’re all ashamed of needing to wash our hands about, he makes us feel awkward because there’s something wrong with him. But there we are, seeing a beautiful landscape in these long, slow camera movements, superior to poor Zatoichi, who despite not being able to see, can sense the landscapes much more acutely than we can see them. His story continues as he kills off more people he loves, and a bunch of others, we deal with the necessary moral ambiguity, the girl who loves him, and the end.

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