Sunday, 12 March 2017

Alternate Best Actor 1947: Isao Numasaki in One Wonderful Sunday

Isao Numasaki did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Yuzo in One Wonderful Sunday.

One Wonderful Sunday, if you'll forgive the repetition, is a wonderful bittersweet film about a young couple attempting to spend the day together with very little money.

One Wonderful Sunday is Akira Kurosawa's last film before his first collaboration with the one and only Toshiro Mifune, and concerns a far more average sort of individual as played by Isao Numasaki, any actor with few credits to his name. The film follows very simply a day between the man, Yuzo and his fiancee Masako (Chieko Nakakita). One of the reasons I so enjoyed the film actually was how natural and simple of a film it is, aside from its questionable choice to break the fourth wall. A great deal of credit for this needs to go to Numasaki and Nakakita for this. We are introduced to the two of them as people who want to be together, this is not about a growing romance the romantic angle is suppose to be a given. It is given because of their chemistry with one another. This is very notable though because they do not create this sort of grand love for one another rather they establish the time the two have been together instead. There is the right comfort the two bring in their interactions that suggest simply the right understanding that they love each other to the point that they don't really even need to say it all that much, it is indeed a given.

Numasaki's performance actually made me a bit surprised he has so few credits to his name given just how genuine he is as a performer. He brings this innate likability to Yuzo because he comes across as such an honest sort. There is nothing in Numasaki's work that ever seems off in the least and it's with this that helps the film work as well as it does. Numasaki is able to create such sympathy by feeling so real in his performance. Numasaki has such a downright perfect sort of screen presence by having such an easy and unassuming performance style. Never does it feel like you're witnessing this sort of character, instead you're simply watching a man attempting to go on this date of sorts. Numasaki simply is Yuzo here as Nakakita simply is Masako, and together they are this young couple. Importantly though Numasaki though still is always engaging never becoming stale in his portrayal instead he finds what is so interesting in the understated man that Yuzo is. Now with this date of sorts we are given the tone of the film which gives us the bitter with the sweet.

Isao Numasaki's performance is incredibly effective in terms of capturing every situation with such intimate detail and nuance. In the early scenes he's incredibly moving by portraying the quiet shame in the man, an his loss of enthusiasm as he speaks about their lack of money that makes it so they not only can't live together but can barely do much on their date. Numasaki is very good in establishing the somewhat sorrowful state of Numasaki which he portrays in such a quiet yet affecting way. Numasaki carefully avoids any melodrama in this showing it more of Yuzo's predisposition to start thinking of his troubles. Numasaki shows this so authentically in the way he just sort of seizes up in his whole physical state and only speaks in these somber tones. Numasaki does not overwhelm yet presents this as the place Yuzo basically reverts to whenever he's reminded of just how little he has. There are times for distraction though as Yuzo decides to join a children's baseball game. Numasaki is incredibly endearing in the scene by bringing such enthusiasm in this moment of fun. This is quick transition when this happens yet Numasaki makes entirely work by just how genuine he is in the part. Numasaki so well realizes the way a distraction of joy can exist from time to time even when in a bad state overall.

Numasaki's performance finds the right wavelength of sorts as he creates a believable dynamic throughout the day/film. He so convincingly falls to his lowest point in a heartbreaking scene where Numasaki shows the sorrow overwhelm him for a moment, as he even lashes out a bit at Masako. Numasaki again does not overplay importantly instead playing the moment in a subtle fitting to a man being drowned in his sadness. He is pulled up from it but again Numasaki makes this so eloquent and gradual. It never seems like a requirement of the film, it feels like what should happen next and that is through Numasaki's convincing performance. Numasaki even manages to fulfill the other extreme near the end of the film where he becomes his most jubilant by faking conducting an orchestra to be entertained by. A very poignant scene as Numasaki though does not show a madness there, but rather just instead reflects a man gaining back just the right amount of hope in order to find some joy in life again. This is beautiful work from Numasaki as it represents the highs and lows of life with such grace, creating such powerful empathy for this story of two people simply trying to share a day together.

46 comments:

Luke Higham said...

There goes my prediction.

Louis: Rating/Thoughts on Nakakita.

Charles Heiston said...

Did not expect this, i'll have to check this out.

Luke Higham said...

Louis:
Thoughts On:
Out There
Hellfire
Bells Of Notre Dame
Belle
Gaston
Be Our Guest
Beauty And The Beast
Circle Of Life
Be Prepared

Calvin Law said...

Yeah I checked this out too. Really nice film, agree on the fourth wall stuff though.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

I have no idea why we all underestimated him, you can't go wrong betting that a performance in a Kurosawa film will most probably get a good score from Louis.

L Rime said...

Saw the Baby Driver trailer earlier. Thought it looked mediocre. The reviews coming out of SXSW though tell a different story. Guess we'll see.

Robert MacFarlane said...

The reviews for The Disaster Artist have been great. Thank God.

Anonymous said...

What films does everyone think will fail this year out of the Oscar contenders and just casual main stream films?

Luke Higham said...

Has anyone listened to the Beauty and The Beast soundtrack yet. I found it rather underwhelming with the exception of Gaston and The Mob Song.

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: In terms of Critical reception, you mean?

Calvin Law said...

Robert: I couldn't be more surprised, but I sure hope it's a good one. If done correctly this could be a sort of Ed Wood masterpiece.

Anonymous said...

Luke: Yes

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: To answer your question, I'll go with The Beguiled by Sofia Coppola.

RatedRStar said...

I agree with Luke, Sofia Coppola I think is the wrong person to direct a remake of The Beguiled, the original director Don Siegel usually did thrillers, so he had an edge and tension on his side that helped his films greatly. Sofia has only done The Virgin Suicides in terms of films with bite in them so, I just think she is a very art style director rather than someone who can craft tense drama.

94dfk1 said...

RatedRStar: "very art style director"

You are right as rain on that one.

Louis Morgan said...

I will say after watching the international trailer to Baby Driver, which while it did not blow me away was a major upgrade over the American trailer, and suggests the American trailer might have been cut to appeal to the usual Ansel Elgort crowd rather than representing the actual style of the film.

Luke:

Nakakita - 4(I'll say I preferred Numasaki's performance just a bit because Nakakita's performance does slightly slip into the melodramatic, though I will say that is only in one scene the breaking the fourth wall. Unfortunately she can't quite make that seem natural and it is the only moment in the film I genuinely did not care for. Nakakita though is quite good the rest of the time in also granting a natural more up beat performance that works well against Numasaki's often more somber take. Again though both excel in terms of their chemistry.)

Out There - (Underrated I find as the "I want something more" songs go. Although Hulce isn't technically speaking the greatest singer I love the enthusiasm he brings to the song. The song itself, while technically derivative of the others in its type it is an excellent example given the overall strength of Hunchback's orchestration. It offers a particularly sweeping power to it particularly in the song's finale.)

Bells of Notre Dame - (Perfection and you couldn't ask for a strong introductory song in all of Disney cannon. It brilliantly sets the tone with the sheer power of even its few introductory notes. Its a marvelous piece though as it feels with grandiose in scale, with such intensity within the emotion, yet still even has a bit of playfulness through Paul Kandel's delivery of it.)

Hellfire - (The greatest Disney Villain song but also the greatest Disney song. Everything comes to together in an unforgettable 2 minutes and 40 seconds. It's a perfection representation of Frollo's character with the Latin recitation and refinement in style reflecting his piousness of the man, yet there is such fire passion as well particularly in Tony Jay's outstanding vocal performance. It's such a masterful symphony of hypocrisy in that it seems zealous yet lustful at the same time. Everything comes together within the song as it tells all of Frollo's motivations within it. It begins as a pray, somber and simple, falling into desire which becomes complex "romantic" in the old musical terms, receding into a catholic guilt with its haunting choir, then ending on a strange compromise all represented within the powerful music and flawless lyrics.)

Louis Morgan said...

Belle - (Not the first "something more" yet another great example of one, and particularly effective in terms of getting the film going actually. Has just the needed upbeat melody, proper sort of exposition style lyrics, having fun with the more adventurous solo sections by Belle against the more precise chorus of the townfolk)

This was the one song I did listen to from the remake, and uh I wonder if it would have been better to let Watson hit a few wrong notes than turn her into part android, though maybe it was a few notes too many. Luke Evans sounds great though.

Gaston - (Perhaps the most fun of all the villain songs fitting to the fun villain that is Gaston. A good old pub jaunty song though is excellent and I love the whole structure of the slowly growing enthusiastic praise of Gaston by the Chorus, accented so perfectly by the tremendous responses by Gaston which accent the song. Also special mention to the great use of sound effects throughout that add something even when not watching the images.)

Be Our Guest - (You know I may prefer "See My Vest" for thematic value, however Be Our Guest is the right sort of fun diversionary song. The grand epic scale though I do think perhaps within the film the visuals overshadow the song. The song itself is entertaining to be sure with its upbeat style, though I suppose I've never loved it.)

Beauty and the Beast - (You know this one is easy enough to try to be contrarian about, "oh it's okay", but really its great. Although I will say I'm less enthusiastic about some of the covers which can overplay the vocals a bit much, but still this is brilliant song. In the elegant, though certain layered music, as well as straight forward romantic lyrics, it contains such, well such beauty, and sums up the film while being quite unforgettable.)

Circle of Life - (Although I suppose I'm far less enthusiastic than most towards the film overall this is a great piece of music, though I have to say the attempts to copy the song's style in Moana and especially Frozen have been far from successful. Like"Bells of Notre Dame" it sets the stage so well with the sheer grandeur in its orchestration fitting to the opening of a Shakespearean epic. Of course the lyrics technically are lost on most but do work wonders in amplifying that music.)

Be Prepared - (Love that minor key, and partial Jeremy Irons's vocals, who by the way is more important than James Earl Jones to the film by the way. Any who. Love everything about the score from its jazzy baritone sax, to the goose step chorus, and everything about the lead vocals. The ending to me is the highlight as it comes together in such a rousing climax.)

Robert:

Glad to hear that as well since I was concerned Franco was going to waste such a great story.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Have to tell you now, Evans is terrific with his vocal rendition of 'Gaston' but he's even better in 'The Mob Song'.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Basically every review I've read for the new Beauty and the Beast has praised Evan (and Gad) as the MVP's. Which isn't that surprising since they were the only ones that sounded great on paper.

Calvin Law said...

Louis: what do you think of a 70s Hell or High Water with Pacino and Cazale as the brothers?

Louis Morgan said...

Calvin:

I like it. William Holden as Marcus?

Charles Heiston said...

Calvin: That would have been fantastic.

Calvin Law said...

Charles and Louis: Perfect. Speaking of which anyone in Stalag 17 you could possibly bump up in the future? Because watching it again now (now officially in my top 10 of all-time) and I'd actually go up to a 4.5 for Graves and Rugman actually.

Calvin Law said...

*Strauss, not Ryman.

Varun Neermul said...

Louis, your top 10 Joan Crawford moments acting moments.

Varun Neermul said...

Louis, who ss the better actor? Brad Pitt or Christian bale?

I prefer Pitt

Robert MacFarlane said...

Pitt has reached higher heights than Bale, but Bale has probably more range.

Varun Neermul said...

I think they both have showed the same amount of range.

Luke Higham said...

Varun: Bale's less likely to suck though, so Bale for me.

Varun Neermul said...

Luke: That's true. But when Pitt is good, then he is really good.

Luke Higham said...

Varun: I think Pitt had the highest height with Jesse James, though only just, as I love Bale's work in The Prestige. When it comes to deciding my favourite actors, consistency matters an awful lot and Pitt's just so hit and miss for me.

Luke Higham said...

Varun: I have no qualms though, if anyone felt Pitt was better than Bale.

Varun Neermul said...

Luke: I understand (:

Calvin Law said...

Hm, I dunno, they're both great at their best. Bale's never given a bad performance but I wouldn't say Pitt has either, exactly. Bale is more consistent but I'd actually say Pitt has an underrated range.

Luke Higham said...

Calvin: He was horrible in Troy.

Charles Heiston said...

Luke: He was horrible in Allied.

Luke Higham said...

Charles: Agreed.

Anonymous said...

He was horrible in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, one of the most lazy performances ever, so thats 3 lol.

Robert MacFarlane said...

I actually don't think he was that bad in Benjamin Button in terms of acting, it was just a nothing role he couldn't do much with.

Louis Morgan said...

Calvin:

It's possible as it's one of those films I loved the first time, but have only come to appreciate all the more on subsequent viewings.

Varun:

1. Confronting Veda - Mildred Pierce
2. Apology - Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?
3. Coming up with a plan - Sudden Fear
4. Encouraging Otto - Grand Hotel
5. Hearing the Record - Sudden Fear
6. A bad meal - Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?
7. With the Baron - Grand Hotel
8. Crystal and Sylvia - The Women
9. Pleading for her daughter - Mildred Pierce
10. Asking for Redemption - Rain

Bale I would say is the better actor overall because he is more consistent. Bale, from what I've seen, has never been awful where Pitt has Allied, and 12 Years a Slave to his name. When Pitt is great though he is truly great and I would say he has the highest height between the two, Jesse James though The Prestige is close for me. It is interesting in that they can struggle in a similair way as Pitt has difficultly in "simple" roles, and Bale doesn't really have an innate charisma. Bale though usually can kind of cover that up by doing something else in the role, like making public Bruce Wayne as purposeful phony for example.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your top 5 Byung-hun Lee acting moments.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your top 5 Matthias Schoenaerts moments.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

1. Tears in the rain - I Saw the Devil
2. A bit of joy - A Bittersweet Life
3. "Why?" - A Bittersweet Life
4. Being Sold Out - A Bittersweet Life
5. Gunshop - A Bittersweet Life

Luke:

1. Jacky fails to find the word - Bullhead
2. Jacky goes to see Lucia - Bullhead
3. Jacky attacks the man from the club - Bullhead
4. Jacky see his old friend - Bullhead
5. "Open the Safe" - The Drop

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Could Schoenaerts go up for The Drop.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Uh maybe, he certainly could rise up the ranking.

Calvin Law said...

Schoenaerts is a solid 4.5 for me.