Movie Review: Pitfall

Dennis suggests Pitfall (in the Criterion Collection). Man, do I love the Criterion Collection. Whoever these shadowy cats are, they continue to exhibit the most impeccable taste in choosing which films to resurrect with the full on restoration-and-major-special-features treatment, and last week they granted their benison on Japanese filmmaker Hiroshi Teshigahara with a four disc set. Not as well know as fellow Japanese masters Akira Kurosawa and Yasujiro Ozu (both healthily represented in the Criterion catalog), Teshigahara has been available at Videoport in lowly VHS form for years with his mysterious, fascinating Woman In the Dunes and his equally compelling architectural documentary Antonio Gaudi, and now the C.C. crew have hit us hard with exquisite DVD editions of Woman In the Dunes, The Face of Another and his first film Pitfall (as well as a full disc of short documentaries and bonus material). I went into Pitfall knowing essentially nothing about the film and part of my enjoyment of it came from the surprises it kept tossing at me, but I’ve got to tell you something to get you to rent it. Hmmm. Okay, here’s enough to get you started: set in a modern day (1962), yet eerily empty countryside, the film follows an itinerant miner/con man and his silent young son/accomplice as they work/scam their way across the land and try to survive. The boy sees a well-dressed man in white following them sometimes, but says nothing. The man and the boy wander into a deserted mining town where a lone woman tends her abandoned shop, and then…something happens. I won’t say much more except to note the minimalist, percussive jazz score, some startling, cold-eyed imagery, and (thanks to the aforementioned cool Criterion cats), the inclusion of the mesmerizing, David-Lynchian, original trailer. A mix of social protest, ghost story, existential mystery and absurdist comedy, Pitfall keeps you off balance and riveted to see where it’s going.

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Published in: on June 30, 2009 at 9:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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