Shinoda Masahiro | Pale Flower
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Shinoda Masahiro is a prolific Japanese film director.
Shinoda also at one point shoots against a large irregular color field on a wall (in black and white). This echoes Michelangelo Antonioni, and still photographers of the era, who used found imagery to evoke Abstract Expressionist painting.
Lang-like imagery includes many shots of clocks and staircases. During the climactic murder, the hero ascends a staircase, and we see an overhead shot of the stairs, in the best tradition of Lang's M and much film noir. By contrast, there are few if any mirror shots in the film, a Lang tradition avoided here.
We see a revolving spiral behind the hero at one point. This recalls the spirals in Lang's M and Fury. Later on, there will be another moving neon sign behind the hero, this one going up and down. This is one of many echo or doubling of images throughout Pale Flower.
Shinoda likes to shoot through windows, doorways, openings in grids and panels, etc, in his interiors. This gives a window within the screen effect. Lang used this a good deal in Spione.
There are many scenes in the film of a gambling board. It is a large white space on the floor, in which players arrange game tiles or piles of cash. These tiles and paper money are arranged in rectilinear geometric patterns that recall the painter Mondrian. Such rectilinear patterns immediately suggest Ozu, in the context of Japanese cinema. But they also recall Lang's regular geometric arrays of large numbers of objects, such as are seen in M, You and Me or An American Guerrilla in the Philippines.
Later, we get an even wittier and stranger echo. A maternity ward show a series of babies in incubators, all arranged around a central long white area between them. Life, even at its very start at birth, Shinoda is suggesting, is just like the game of chance played by the adults in the movie. It is very funny - and visually striking.
There are other geometric images throughout the film that are less Lang-like. The first shots shows the inverted V roof of a train station. Later, the hero will wait in front of a building that has a whole series of V-shaped roofs and door tops. (Is this building some sort of temple?) The V's all have wide angles near 180 degrees. Another echo: The gambling hall is filled with diagonals, also nearly on the horizontal, like the V's.
Many of the interiors are filled with small circles. Shinoda produces these not just with Lang-like clock dials, but with lamps, the heroine's hat, and many other objects. They are a recurrent motif in the visual style. The final murder combines the staircase with the spherical globes of a hanging lamp fixture, to make a unique set of compositions.
Another echo is aural. One of the women lives in a clock shop, and we hear the ticking of countless clocks. Later, at a gambling hall, we hear the players all shuffling their individual collections of tiles. This makes an odd sort of aural pun on the earlier sound. Shinoda displays a Bresson-like interest in sound design in these scenes.