“Ugetsu” Means Peace

Some years ago I suggested a foreign film to a friend. Her response was no with the comment, “I don’t read my movies.” Since then, I have come across a number of people who respond the same way. How sad.

There are so many great movies they miss by directors such as Fellini and Bergman, Louis Malle and Francois Truffaut, Kurosawa and Roberto Rossellini. They miss “Cinema Paradiso” and “Ikiru”, “Jean de Florette” and “Manon of the Spring”, “Audition” and the Swedish trilogy of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”. And, of course, Kenji Mizoguchi’s great film “Ugetsu”.

Like all great films, “Ugetsu” (1953) is not just one story, but several stories layered upon one another. It is the story of how an artist, Genjuro, must suffer in order to become a true master of his art. It is the story of ambition. Genjuro wants to get rich by selling more and more pottery, no matter the risk to himself or his family. His neighbor, Tobee, wants foolishly to be a samurai. It is a ghost story. And a story of love and forgiveness.

“Ugetsu” is a particular appropriate film for an understanding of the refugees fleeing  Ukraine, North African and the Middle East. Families fleeing war because they don’t know whether they will be blown up, beheaded, tortured, gassed or robbed, the women definitely raped. All they want is to live in peace and raise their families.

“Ugetsu” takes place in a civil-war-torn sixteenth century Japan. One day one army is on top. The next day, another army. The only thing these armies have in common is the soldiers are lawless, plundering the pleasants, raping their women, and forcing the men into hard labor gangs.

Within a little over an hour and a half, Kenji Mizoguchic has created an epic film, and yet a very human one, that would take another director three plus hours.

One final thought. It amazes me the number of great films that created shortly after World War II. Many of the directors came from two former enemies of the Allies, Italy and Japan, and working with almost no resources. Films such as “Open City”, “The Bicycle Thief”, “Rashomon”, and “Ugetsu”. It had to be a heady time for the freedom those directors finally had.

Famous Biblical Quotes (You’ve Never Heard)

Adam to God (after seeing Eve): Man, I love what you do with ribs.

It was a Tuesday afternoon when Noah got the call, I believe. Sometime between two and three in the afternoon. He took the call. He knew it must be from God. In this god-awful weather.
God (to Noah): Oops, the ark just sprang a leak.Noah
Noah (to God): Oh, no.
God (to Noah): Just kidding.
Noah (to God): Well, I forgot the dove.
God (to Noah): Nothing up my sleeve. What is this in my hat?

God to Abraham: Let your pee pee go.

Moses: It wasn’t the Red Sea I had so much trouble with. It was that burning bush. I tried everything–fire extinguisher, water, you name it–I just couldn’t get the fire quenched. And it was such a nice bush too.

Moses (to God): I am not playing with snakes.
God (to Moses): How many plagues is that?
Moses (to God): Can’t you count?
God: Yes, but, if I have to count the toes on more than one foot, it’s higher math.

Joshua (to his trumpeters): Somebody is off key here.
God (to Joshua): One thing is for sure. These guys are no Miles Davis.

Samson to Delilah: I don’t care if you are going to Cosmetology School, you cannot cut my hair.
Delilah starts to cry.
Samson: Don’t cry, Baby. I was just kidding. Of course, you can cut my hair.

David and GoliathDavid to Goliath: Everybody must get stoned.

Jonah’s Whale: Burp.

King Herod to Salome (after her dance): You’ve got heads rolling in the aisles.

Peter to Jesus (after Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes); I don’t care much for fish sandwiches without the mayonnaise.
Jesus (to Peter); If you don’t like it, go out and open up your own restaurant.

Jesus to Lazarus: A little smelly there, Laz.

God to St. John: We’re going to have a revelation.

By the way, no Biblical characters were injured in the preparation of this post.

Credit: The art work was found on the Dollar Photo Club. It was offered by stock photo agency Fotolia for a subscription fee. The Dollar Photo Club closed down in 2016.

20 Reasons Why Uncle Bardie is Old School

1.    When people say I am old school, they’re thinking I went to school with Socrates. Well, I did. He flunked philosophy.

2.   I am so old school, I gave Nero his first fiddle. Big mistake.

3.   I am so old school, I was Dracula’s original dentist. I’m sorry.

4.   I am so old school, I was Henry VIII’s divorce lawyer. Henry paid good.

5.   I am so old school, I am responsible for the Leaning Tower of Pisa. I just had to move that brick. It didn’t look straight. Well, it didn’t. After all these years, the Italians still won’t let me in their country. And they say an elephant never forgets.

6.   I’m so old school, I told Ben Franklin, “Go fly a kite.” When he did, he lit up like EPCOT on Christmas Eve. The good news: he came out a lot smarter. After that, he invented bifocals, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. He even invented the kitchen sink. So people can now say, “Everything including the kitchen sink.”

7.  I am so old school, I convinced George Washington not to put “In George We Trust” on the money. It just didn’t sound right. By the way he did chop down the cherry tree.

8.  I am so old school, I knew Yankee Doodle personally. He was no dandy.

9.  I am so old school, They wanted to put my face on the one dollar bill. I told them no. I don’t like selfies.

10  I am so old school, I gave Abe Lincoln the stake when he went vampire hunting.

11.  I am so old school, I warned Custer those smoke signals were saying “No trespassing”.

12.    I am so old school, I told James Joyce where to put the periods. And the commas too.

13.   I am so old school, I started the rumor about the pony. You know the one that says, “There’s a pony in here someplace.” There wasn’t. I just like to watch people shoveling poop.

14.  I am so old school, I was the eighth dwarf, Sloppy.

15.  I am so old school, I was the model for Dumbo’s ears.

16.  I am so old school, I was the original Scarecrow in the “Wizard of Oz”. The director said it was typecasting and fired me because I didn’t have a brain.

17. I am so old school, I wrote lines for the movie “Gone With the Wind”. Clark Gable kept tripping over the original lines. So I gave him the line, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” To be frank, he really didn’t.

18.  I am so old school, I knew Keith Richards when he was sober.

19.  I am so old school, I started the rumor that Paul was dead. Actually he was. That’s his clone you see up there on stage.

20. I am so old school I know what “groovy” means.

It Go Boom

“I didn’t go to jail. I went to Hollywood.:–Orson Welles about what happened after his “War of the Worlds” 1938 radio broadcast.

It all starts with “Let’s blow up a town.” In some Hollywood office, a producer makes the suggestion to her in-house director.

Of course, the director takes up the dare. “How are we going to do that?” comes the question, and it’s a fair question too.

“We’ll get the special effects people to do it for us,” the producer says. She loves the special effects people. Unlike actors, they always give her exactly what she wants.

“I don’t mean how. I mean why.”

“Do we need a reason?” The producer isn’t looking for an answer. She already has an answer.

“Not really.”

“Remember what P. T. Barnum said. There’s a sucker born every minute. And what the suckers…I mean, the public wants is boom-boom-boom. So all we have to do is hire some poor schmuck of a screenwriter to come up with some kid and his hot chick girlfriend taking on some—“

“I know, zombies.” The director is bored. He’s heard all this before.

“Not zombies. That is so passé. And no more vampires. At least, not for a while.“

“What then?” He starts to yawn but he knows that is a bad strategy.

“And we’ve done the tin cans,” the producer says. She’s starts pacing around the office.

The director knows this is a good sign. When she starts pacing, she’s about to come up something spectacular. Another Class A blockbuster. “Tin cans?” he asks anyway.

“You know, those transformers.” She flips her heels off. Now every inch of her body from her toes to her pageboy hair style is getting hot with an idea. All the director has to do is wait.

“Yeah, but what?” the director says, taking his cue to draw out an idea from his boss.

Then the idea begins to come out. “What if the town is on Mars?”

“Mars?” he says, watching the producer do her thing.

“Yes, Mars,” the producer is laughing. “Of course, Mars.” She is back on her game. “It’s one hundred years after earth has colonized Mars. Only we don’t send humans. We send robots.”

“Why do we colonize Mars?” The director is getting interested. It means he will be working with machines, not actors. The machines will definite do what they are told.

As the producer is pouring out her ideas, she’s thinking this is better than sex. The roll she’s on can be downright orgasmic. “Doesn’t matter. The screenwriter can make it up. Maybe we sent the robots up there to take on the little green guys.”

“So how do we get the hunky guy and the hot chick in the movie?” He is watching her as she goes for the gold, and she is doing it with the gusto of a whirling dervish.

“They are sent up there for a regular maintenance. You know, the robots need some WD40. They hate each other. Not the robots. But the hot chick and Mr. Hunk. They are also hot for each other too. After all, it’s been six weeks since they’ve had any.” The producer throws herself back into her chair. She is in absolute ecstasy.

Then her face turns into a frown. She is having a moment of doubt. She needs reassurance.

This is where the director comes in like he always does. That is why she keeps him around. Not for his directing abilities. He doesn’t have any. Rather to goad her out of her doubt.

“Absolute genius,” he says. “This could be huge.”

“You think so?” she asks. Then she’s off again, “Of course, it will. And you know what happens next? The Martians appear, and they are werewolves. Yes, werewolves. That’s it. Werewolves will be the new zombies. And Martian werewolves at that.”

“Martian werewolves,” he says, getting into the spirit of things. “I like that.”

“Of course you do,” she says, putting her feet up on the desk. “What’s not to like. And the only way they can overcome the Martians is blow up Robottown. ‘Cause the Martians are overrunning the town.”

“Now all you need is a title,” he says, knowing what he’ll be doing the next six months.

She picks up the phone and calls the first on her A-list of screenwriters. “Hey, Marvin, this is Michaelson. I have a job for you. I need you to write a script for my new movie, ‘It Go Boom’.”

She sits the phone back down and turns to the director. “I have a brilliant idea.”

“What would that be, Chief?”

“We’ll do a video game spinoff,” her voice filled with excitement. She is thinking of all the money that will roll in from this one. “Call it ‘Blow Stuff Up’.”


Audrey hated her job.  A lot. Her job was to sit in from of the camera and sell It insurance. In a few words, she told the camera It was going to die. It needed to be prepared.

It needed to plan its funeral. To purchase The Sympathy Plan, a prepaid, all-expense sendoff to the Great Beyond. Unpleasant as it was, the camera absolutely needed to know that Its family would be devastated with grief from its death.

Unfortunately, its wife and Its children, its brother and its sister, its mother and its father would have to deal with something that most cameras find difficult. In the middle of their devastation, they would have to think about The Funeral.

They would have to agree at the worst possible moment. “He would want this,” one would say. “No, he would want that,” another said. “How are we going to pay for this?” his wife asked.

So here Audrey sat behind the desk and in front of the camera, telling It the truth. Years of voice lessons, acting training and staying in shape, giving up her cookies and her milk shakes and all the food she loved, food that would make her fat. And for what? To tell the damned camera It was going to die.

Her voice dropped into silence. She couldn’t do it.

She rose from the table like Lazarus’ rising from the grave. She looked into the camera. “I can’t do this. I won’t do this.”

She walked past the director. On her way to the door, she came to the camera, kissed It and said, “You aren’t going to die. At least, not soon.”

She was wrong about that. The next day, in the same studio, shooting another actress doing another commercial, a crew member accidentally tripped on the camera’s cord and pull It to the floor, crashing It into several pieces, Its lens beyond repair.

Audrey walked out of the studio and down the hall and out into the afternoon sunlight.

Free at last.