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PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 2:45 pm 
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Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:20 pm
Location: New England
I love I Was Born But AND Good Morning. Not sure which you saw first. But judging IWBB as an early version of Good Morning (as conventional wisdom wrongly depicts it) would cause one to approach it from the wrong direction. It is far less comic overall the Good Morning, a lot of darkness (and occasionally a considerable degree of bitterness) in its humor.

I also rate Tokyo Inn as Ozu's greatest pre-talkie (not a silent actually, as it had a synchronized score) and it is near the top of my overall Ozu list as well. I am a bit biased in favor of both Passing Fancy and The Wife on That Night (as I wrote articles on them), but would also put in a plug for Tokyo Woman.

I love Tokyo Twilight (Ozu's darkest film) and like Early Spring (perhaps his second darkest post-40s film) very much. These both require one to synchronize oneself to a somewhat atypical Ozu wavelength. I believe both were made in the wake of Naruse's Floating Clouds (which apparently very much shook Ozu up). Also, these two films both reflect Ozu tuning into the same underlying anger and discontent among the younger generation that was just beginning to be manifested "angry" younger directors (first in the "sun tribe" films and then in the Japanese "new wave") (sooomething he also partially prefigured in Hen in the Wind).


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 4:18 pm 

Joined: Wed Nov 16, 2011 7:52 am
Yes yes, but HOW do you rate the remake of Floating Weeds? :)

Anyways, I did watch IWBB before GM, and I was expecting some kind of remake when watching GM. But I wouldn't call it that. It's much more of a reworking as opposed to Floating Weeds which I, on the other hand, would definitely call a remake as much of it is almost a shot by shot re-imagining, just changing the overall tone from drama to comedy. I found the story of IWBB to be interesting and tender, but way too thin to stretch over 90 minutes. I think it would have been much more powerful if he had tightened it up and made it as focused as Record of a Tenement Gentleman, for example. That story is also thin but it doesn't drag on and on, but it still retains the usual Ozu poetics.

Thanks for the silent recommendations. It sounds like I should just aim at watching most of the available stuff, apart from the school comedies which BFI put out. I must say that I'm not in a hurry to watch those if they are "funny" the same kind of way that IWBB is. As a sidenote, I should say that I have been blown away by Mizoguchi's 30'ies film, and I think he was miles ahead of Ozu back then with films like Osaka Elegy and Sisters of the Gion which are somewhat proto-feminist films if you don't count Pabst work in Europe.

Finally, I would really love to have liked Early Spring, but to me it was just overly dramatic; he is telling the story too directly and too to the point which doesn't make sense because Ozu is the master of NOT spelling out his films. At least to me, he is. To me the beauty of his work is that you so have to invest in his films to "get" them. And that wasn't the case for me with Early Spring or Tokyo Twilight, for that matter. Which are both pretty basic dramas, which are inarguably Ozu'esque, but I only found the latter to be something completely different and somewhat refreshing, thus not a complete bore.

I should say that I find Ozu films incredibly hard to rate because most of them are so subtle. So when something like the color Floating Weeds pops up in his filmography it becomes all the more appalling.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 4:38 pm 
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Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:20 pm
Location: New England
I love the cinematography of the 1959 Floating Weeds and the color usage -- and I very much enjoy the performances. I don't see it as , overall, more comic -- though perhaps the comedy is in different places. I personally would not want to be without either.

I prefer 30s Ozu (and Naruse and Shimizu) to Mizoguchi's 30s films (many of which I also admire quite a lot). I don't really find anything in IWBB boring (nor do I find it too long) -- but "different strokes ..."

I am biased -- but I think it is worthwhile seeing any of the available Japanese 30s films. Unfortunately, there is so little available.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 6:58 am 

Joined: Wed Nov 16, 2011 7:52 am
jegharfangetmigenmyg wrote:
Rayon Vert wrote:
I really liked both but definitely prefer the silent. The tone in the remake is obviously different - the story is a little lighter, with more comedy alternating with the violently dramatic moments, so that it doesn't generate the same mood and emotion. Great characters and visuals throughout though, although Nakamura in the lead is a little dull. I can think of much weaker late Ozus, like Tokyo Twilight and especially The End of Summer.

I don't know, I just couldn't at all get into the comedy of the remake. I didn't find it funny, mostly just over the top, both with regards the supposedly comedic scenes and the (overly) dramatic ones. I don't know exactly why, but the film struck me as very "off" compared to his other late ones. Maybe it has something to do with it being produced by another studio? I don't know, it just felt forced. As mentioned, there were of course some great classic shots, and Haruko Sugimura was amazing as always. To me she's the archetypal Ozu actress, even more so than Setsuko Hara (but of course behind Chishu Ryu). But yes, I agree that the lead didn't impress as opposed to the one in the silent. The only shot that I think bettered the silent version's was the very final shot, especially the composition of the red lights of the train going into the blue of the night. The scene of the father going fishing with the son was very underwhelming in the remake compared to the poetic one in the silent.

With regards to the weakest late Ozu film, for me it has to be Floating Weeds or Early Spring which I found to be at least half an hour too long, very meandering and badly paced. Way too long to tell a simple story. I haven't seen The End of Summer yet; still missing his final three films as I am going chronologically through his filmography. But I quite liked Tokyo Twilight, mainly because it is so different compared to his other films. Almost noir'ish. I know that people complain about it being too melodramatic, but I mean, haven't they seen Floating Weeds?

My favorite Ozu film so far has to be Late Spring which just hit me so hard. It's just prime Ozu, and I think it surpasses Tokyo Story. So I'm looking forward to the next film in line, Late Autumn, as I understand that it's a loose remake with the father subbed for a mother?

Is there any of his silents that should be rated as must-sees? I didn't like I Was Born, But..., so I don't think I should be traveling down the comedy road of his silent work. When the comedy's not too forced and bittersweet, like in The Record of a Tenement Gentleman or Equinox Flower, I like it, though.

I finished watching the final three colour films, and I must add to the above that I quite liked The End of Summer. Very much so. I find it hard to put a finger on exactly why, but it just sticks out in his later filmography. It is kind of different, kind of like Floating Weeds done right. There are some similarities in the choice of actors and the old patriarch finding the love of his youth again. The final 15-20 minutes is some of the best Ozu has ever done, I think. I found the film very fresh and different, although I can't put my finger on exactly why. The blending of themes, and the comedy vs. seriousness just seemed very well-balanced here.

The one thing that struck me regarding his colour films is that they are funnier, or maybe jovial is the word, than his late b/w films. Especially when you view Equinox Flower just after the very very bleak Tokyo Twilight. Also, in An Autumn Afternoon, the drinking jokes get much rowdier than usual. I will say that the general assumption that this film is kind of a summation of his themes, and maybe the the ultimate one is quite spot on. Also, I think, technically, it is his most refined film. Some of the scenes when Hirayama and Kawai is discussing and drinking, even the sake bottles are line up to make the cuts almost seem like mirror images. It was amazing.

One thing I have found few comments on is the way in which industrialization seems to play a major role in this one. There is smokestacks all over, and generally the mise en scene is crowded and even looks cheap sometimes, much more so than in any Ozu film I have watched. Is he commenting on the city vs. nature, just like old vs. new Japan? It seemed to me like Ozu was a nostalgic until the end.


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