Mikio Naruse’s 1954 film is a masterpiece of narrative construction: three short stories by Fumiko Hayashi are woven together to produce a panoramic portrait of the lives of three aging geisha; in the film’s last half hour, Naruse abandons narrative concerns completely and simply cuts back and forth between two extended scenes, developing tonal rhythms and contrasts as one geisha confronts a former lover and her two friends try to console each other for the loss of their children. Naruse’s characteristic mood—a sense of constant movement without advancement—here reaches its formal apotheosis. With Haruko Sugimura, Yuko Mochizuki, and Chikako Hosokawa.