Recommended Rental: Ugetsu Monogatari

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Published March 13, 2009

Alexander McQueen Fall/Winter 2009; Ugetsu. Eery resemblance, no?

 

Watching Alexander McQueen’s Fall/Winter 2009 collection, critics have been recalled various permutations of waste to fashion. But it jogged nothing so much as our Netflix queue, at the top of which is now Ugetsu Monogatari (Tales of Moonlight and Rain). It’s Kenji Minozuki’s 1953 morality flick about Genjurō, an impressionable country bumpkin who goes into town to sell earthenware pots, leaving his family at home in hopes of benefitting them in the long run. Both the kiln and the terrors of urban space make for multiple metaphors when the protagonist is seduced by a ghostly woman seduces Genjurō and brings him back to her estate. Like any young man new to the big city, he becomes a sex slave, and forgets all about his family. But on top of being an excellent masseuse, the ghost woman—who features a painted face and eyebrows, heavy lip makeup, and geometric-patterned kimono drapery—is a succubus sucking his soul. Why? She doesn’t want to be lonely in the after-life and Genjurō might just be green enough to stay with her. And that’s just what ghosts do.