Film Highlight: The Masseurs and a Woman 5/10/24

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FILM HIGHLIGHT | May 10, 2024
The Masseurs and a Woman

The first part of our acclaimed retrospective of Japanese filmmaker Hiroshi Shimizu, The Shochiku Years, co-presented with the Japan Society, continues this weekend. This is the first New York survey of Shimizu in more than 30 years and the largest ever assembled in North America, with rare prints you won't have the chance to see again, and this weekend is jam-packed with extraordinary titles that showcase the sensitivity and brilliance of this great, unsung master of cinema.

One of our very favorites is 1938’s tender and unique The Masseurs and a Woman, screening this Sunday, May 12, at 5:30 p.m, in a 35mm print courtesy of the National Film Archive of Japan. Shimizu’s most eccentrically personal film, which he conceived and wrote himself and shot on his favored Izu peninsula, The Masseurs and a Woman is set mostly at a hot springs resort in the mountains. There, Tokuichi (Shin Tokudaiji) and Fukuichi (Shinichi Himori), both blind masseuses, come across a variety of characters whose dilemmas range from tragic to comic, including a mysterious young woman (Mieko Takamine) who will stir Tokuichi’s romantic longing. The film elegantly weaves a series of fine-grained studies of lonely, transient souls seeking temporary refuge from society.

Read Imogen Sara Smith's "Discovering Hiroshi Shimizu" in Reverse Shot.

See the schedule for Hiroshi Shimizu – Part I: The Shochiku Years and get tickets.

Part II: The Postwar and Independent Years opens at Japan Society on May 16 and will illuminate Shimizu’s output after his departure from Shochiku, particularly the trilogy of films he made with the orphans he personally adopted and brought up after World War II.