BFI: 32 Ozu Films

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hearthesilence
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Re: BFI: 32 Ozu Films

#876 Post by hearthesilence » Sun Aug 02, 2020 2:03 am

Either a better scan or a better restoration, if that's not too broad. It's like they created a better film element. (If memory serves, the OCN is long gone.)
L.A. wrote:
Sun Jul 19, 2020 12:32 pm
DVD Compare reviews the new release of Tokyo Story.
Thanks for this! The inclusion of The Brothers and Sisters of the Toda Family (this time in HD - last time was DVD-only) seals the deal. I'm definitely getting this.

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Re: BFI: 32 Ozu Films

#877 Post by Cash Flagg » Sun Aug 02, 2020 6:39 am

hearthesilence wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 2:03 am
The inclusion of The Brothers and Sisters of the Toda Family (this time in HD - last time was DVD-only)
Though still an upscale.

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Re: BFI: 32 Ozu Films

#878 Post by hearthesilence » Sun Aug 02, 2020 5:20 pm

Cash Flagg wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 6:39 am
hearthesilence wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 2:03 am
The inclusion of The Brothers and Sisters of the Toda Family (this time in HD - last time was DVD-only)
Though still an upscale.
Ugh, missed that detail. Regardless, it's an excellent film, so in terms of content (if not presentation), it's a pretty great bonus.

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Re: BFI: 32 Ozu Films

#879 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sun Aug 02, 2020 7:28 pm

Toda Family was Ozu's homage to Make Way For Tomorrow -- as opposed to Tokyo Story being a sort of rejoinder. I find Toda Family too harsh and judgmental (just like its inspiration).

The OCN of Tokyo Story burned up in a lab fire (possibly) even before the film's official premiere. Luckily prints had already been made.

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Re: BFI: 32 Ozu Films

#880 Post by hearthesilence » Sun Aug 02, 2020 7:55 pm

Michael Kerpan wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 7:28 pm
The OCN of Tokyo Story burned up in a lab fire (possibly) even before the film's official premiere. Luckily prints had already been made.
That's crazy!
Toda Family was Ozu's homage to Make Way For Tomorrow...I find Toda Family too harsh and judgmental (just like its inspiration).
Hah, and this too! Well, count me as one of many who consider Make Way For Tomorrow a masterpiece.

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Re: BFI: 32 Ozu Films

#881 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sun Aug 02, 2020 8:35 pm

hearthesilence wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 7:55 pm
Well, count me as one of many who consider Make Way For Tomorrow a masterpiece.
That's certainly the "majority report". ;-)

I expected to like it -- but hated it (rather like Bong's Parasite). I gave it a second try, no upgrade of my opinion. I've decided that I'm (mostly) allergic to McCarey.

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Re: BFI: 32 Ozu Films

#882 Post by hearthesilence » Sun Aug 02, 2020 9:03 pm

Michael Kerpan wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 8:35 pm
I expected to like it -- but hated it (rather like Bong's Parasite). I gave it a second try, no upgrade of my opinion. I've decided that I'm (mostly) allergic to McCarey.
If you don't like McCarey, it's probably a lost cause. What I like about it isn't atypical of McCarey, it's really a pure and mature expression of what he values (or what he likes to see) in people, and how heartbreaking it is when people don't or can't live up to those ideals.

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Re: BFI: 32 Ozu Films

#883 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sun Aug 02, 2020 9:09 pm

McCarey's rigid conservative Catholic outlook (speaking as a non-conservative Catholic) rubs me very much the wrong way.

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Re: BFI: 32 Ozu Films

#884 Post by hearthesilence » Sun Aug 02, 2020 9:20 pm

Michael Kerpan wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 9:09 pm
McCarey's rigid conservative Catholic outlook (speaking as a non-conservative Catholic) rubs me very much the wrong way.
Got it. I'm neither a conservative or Catholic myself, but I suppose this would be a discussion that's much greater than the film itself. I guess the short version would be that his best works strike me as being universal while his worst (like the uglier aspects of My Son John) fail to transcend the rigid limits of his worldview.

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Re: BFI: 32 Ozu Films

#885 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sun Aug 02, 2020 11:13 pm

At a certain point, my personal views (both aesthetic and general) make certain films (and their directors) unpalatable to me. Since I am purely an amateur, I don't even feel guilty about being "biased". ;-)

In any event, it is Toda Family's McCareyishness that make it one of the rare Ozu films I really don't like. (Ozu himself supposedly never watched MWFT, but his co-scriptwriters -- for both Toda Family and Tokyo Story -- had seen it)

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Re: BFI: 32 Ozu Films

#886 Post by dustybooks » Fri Aug 07, 2020 9:29 am

I just noticed that the MOC Floating Weeds is out of print. I see that there was a restoration mentioned in this thread a couple of pages back. Have there been any rumors of a new release by BFI (or Criterion)?

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Re: BFI: 32 Ozu Films

#887 Post by tenia » Fri Aug 07, 2020 10:57 am

The movie has been scanned at 4k and restored in 2k like the other Shochiku color movies. It toured theatrically in France last year and Carlotta will release it on BD this november. I don't know however about any upgrade plan in the US or the UK.

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Re: BFI: 32 Ozu Films

#888 Post by EddieLarkin » Sun Sep 19, 2021 12:44 pm

Michael Kerpan wrote:
Fri May 15, 2020 6:02 pm
Biggest question -- will this also have badly restored sound?
Unfortunately so. Meaning the best looking English friendly release of Tokyo Story also carries the worst sound #-o

It's of course immensely appreciated that the BFI went the extra mile for Green Tea, but I'm surprised they didn't bother or weren't able to do the same for Tokyo Story.

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Re: BFI: 32 Ozu Films

#889 Post by tenia » Sun Sep 19, 2021 4:36 pm

I think they were made aware of the issue soon enough for Green Tea but not for Tokyo Story.

And as a French, my biggest regret is not inputing Carlotta with these issues and making them aware they might want to try and get the older tracks, as they might have been able to do so.

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Re: BFI: 32 Ozu Films

#890 Post by swo17 » Sun Sep 19, 2021 4:56 pm

Any reason not to expect this to be prioritized for a UHD release where the audio can be improved?

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Re: BFI: 32 Ozu Films

#891 Post by EddieLarkin » Sun Sep 19, 2021 7:02 pm

swo17 wrote:
Sun Sep 19, 2021 4:56 pm
Any reason not to expect this to be prioritized for a UHD release where the audio can be improved?
I don't see it happening as I seriously doubt Shochiku would have done an HDR grade for this. The OCN no longer exists and the further you move away from it the less dynamic range is going to be available to make use of. In this case, I think the best available element is three or fourth generation. I suppose the BFI or Criterion may decide to release the same restoration on UHD in SDR but even then, the resolution gains may also be non-existent due to the element issue.

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Re: BFI: 32 Ozu Films

#892 Post by MichaelB » Mon Sep 20, 2021 2:01 am

When asked directly, the BFI's Ben Stoddart ruled out a UHD edition - he simply doesn't think it's worth it. For the reasons you give, the improvement would be minimal, the RRP unavoidably much higher, and sales of the BD (either edition) don't suggest any particular demand for such a thing.

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Re: BFI: 32 Ozu Films

#893 Post by hearthesilence » Mon Sep 20, 2021 2:13 am

EddieLarkin wrote:
Sun Sep 19, 2021 12:44 pm
Unfortunately so. Meaning the best looking English friendly release of Tokyo Story also carries the worst sound #-o

It's of course immensely appreciated that the BFI went the extra mile for Green Tea, but I'm surprised they didn't bother or weren't able to do the same for Tokyo Story.
Crap, that's horrible! At least the Criterion is still listenable but the severely processed sound of the new soundtrack is fucking awful, and now I'm really regretting trading mine in for the BFI disc. Given the fetish for vinyl these days - even for used worn vinyl - you'd think the restorers would be more forgiving about the noise.

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Re: BFI: 32 Ozu Films

#894 Post by FilmSnob » Thu Sep 23, 2021 3:49 am

Michael Kerpan wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 11:13 pm
At a certain point, my personal views (both aesthetic and general) make certain films (and their directors) unpalatable to me. Since I am purely an amateur, I don't even feel guilty about being "biased". ;-)

In any event, it is Toda Family's McCareyishness that make it one of the rare Ozu films I really don't like. (Ozu himself supposedly never watched MWFT, but his co-scriptwriters -- for both Toda Family and Tokyo Story -- had seen it)
I've never seen MWFT but I wrote a review on Toda Family recently and while it's a fine, average Ozu film altogether, I dislike it compared to Tokyo Story for the following reasons:

1. Tadao Ikeda's structurally inferior script composition compared to Kogo Noda
2. the characters are downright nasty (even Shige has her redeeming qualities in Tokyo Story)
3. Shin Saburi's character is fine but nowhere near Setsuko Hara's Noriko level
4. Ozu's compositions seem unusually bland
5. lacks Ozu's trademark humor (also missing fun drunken songs or theatrical performances)


I rate Toda Family as average Ozu, too didactic and lacking the more human touches.

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Re: BFI: 32 Ozu Films

#895 Post by jegharfangetmigenmyg » Thu Sep 23, 2021 5:01 am

FilmSnob wrote:
Thu Sep 23, 2021 3:49 am
Michael Kerpan wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 11:13 pm
At a certain point, my personal views (both aesthetic and general) make certain films (and their directors) unpalatable to me. Since I am purely an amateur, I don't even feel guilty about being "biased". ;-)

In any event, it is Toda Family's McCareyishness that make it one of the rare Ozu films I really don't like. (Ozu himself supposedly never watched MWFT, but his co-scriptwriters -- for both Toda Family and Tokyo Story -- had seen it)
I've never seen MWFT but I wrote a review on Toda Family recently and while it's a fine, average Ozu film altogether, I dislike it compared to Tokyo Story for the following reasons:

1. Tadao Ikeda's structurally inferior script composition compared to Kogo Noda
2. the characters are downright nasty (even Shige has her redeeming qualities in Tokyo Story)
3. Shin Saburi's character is fine but nowhere near Setsuko Hara's Noriko level
4. Ozu's compositions seem unusually bland
5. lacks Ozu's trademark humor (also missing fun drunken songs or theatrical performances)


I rate Toda Family as average Ozu, too didactic and lacking the more human touches.
I agree here. When I went through his sound filmography, I had high expectations for Toda Family because it is often being sold as a kind of proto-Tokyo Story, but I just found found it so tedious with way too many characters for its own good. I would rank it among his worst efforts.

What I liked the most about going through his films was probably finding and loving hidden and seldom talked about gems like Equinox Flower and The End of Summer, and then the impact of An Autumn Afternoon is just so overwhelming when viewed as a summation of his themes and style. Such a masterful final film.

I was really surprised that I hated his Floating Weeds remake which is generally regarded as one of his best. I just found the humor to be very awkward and not funny (and I like Good Morning, it should be added!). The Story of Floating Weeds, the original silent version, on the other hand, is one of my favorites of his...

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Re: BFI: 32 Ozu Films

#896 Post by FilmSnob » Thu Sep 23, 2021 6:54 am

I have seen all of Ozu's surviving films and, disregarding the movies and fragments that I found mediocre, terrible or useless (Fighting Friends, I Graduated But ..., A Straightforward Boy, I Flunked, But ..., That Night's Wife, The Lady and the Beard, Where Now Are the Dreams of Youth?, Woman of Tokyo, Passing Fancy, A Mother Should Be Loved, and The Lion Dance, my very brief thoughts:

Student Romance: Days of Youth (1929)
-whatever, but fairly watchable compared to most other directors' earliest works
-serves as a nice signpost for how Ozu started his career with student youth comedies in the 1920s
-some of his structural motifs are already apparent at this point in his career

Walk Cheerfully (1930)
-first Ozu film I really liked
-pillow tea-kettle and clothesline shots!
-still imitative pastiche, but confident director, experimenting with his style
-transitional between his 1920s student youth comedies and 1930s shitamachi poor people family dramas

Tokyo Chorus (1931)
-first "Ozu" pic
-after That Night's Wife, his focus on interior angles and geometry becomes apparent (tatami mat shots, etc.)
-I had to watch this without the jarring Criterion score, truly silent (as opposed to some of the other Criterion scores, including by the same composer, which I really loved), but I actually like this almost as much as I Was Born But ...

I Was Born, But ... (1932)
-following up on Tokyo Chorus, Ozu finds his voice
-rather a detail at this point, something he forgot about and came back to later, but I think his outdoor repetition shots (Late Spring, etc.) originate with this film
-clearly the best Ozu film to date and one of his two silent masterpieces

Dragnet Girl (1933)
-David Bordwell and others mention Woman of Tokyo as the 1933 film where Ozu perfected his signature style, and then stuck with that for the rest of his career, but for me that was kind of a nothing film
-for me, Dragnet Girl is the first movie that looks like an "Ozu film"
-ironically, because of its incredibly stylish editing and camera movements, Dragnet Girl is also the most un-Ozu film
-this visual extravagance might have been because 1933 was the last year his silents could reasonably compete versus talkies at the box office
-the movie sags when it turns into an "apartment film" in the middle, and has been criticized as a job-for-hire by most critics, but I agree with some famous Japanese film critic (who I can't remember his name) and Ozu's fellow director and best friend Sadao Yamanaka: the last 20+ minutes are independently my favorite in all of Ozu's filmography

A Story of Floating Weeds (1934)
-like you jegharfangetmigenmyg, I prefer this original, more cutting version (at least dramatically) compared to Ozu's softer, but more technically brilliant remake
-Ozu made this film right after his father died, and it was his first movie outside of Tokyo, where he grew up estranged from his father out in the provinces
-it has a timeless quality; Ozu's other silent masterpiece and his first 'work of art'

An Inn in Tokyo (1935)
-if A Story of Floating Weeds was Ozu's first work of art, then this was beyond art
-almost experimental; neorealism a generation before the Italians supposedly invented neorealism
-Ozu's last surviving silent film, and I noticed his 1930s silents became progressively darker and cynical, culminating in this impoverished despair, much like his black-and-white films of the 1950s continued down a black hole towards Tokyo Twilight

The Only Son (1936)
-Ozu's first talkie and his penultimate pre war film
-everything before the war builds up to this, and, for the first time, it's full, mature Ozu
-his ultimate Mother-Son film

What Did the Lady Forget? (1937)
-very funny, nice breezy comedic coda to cap off his pre war career
-i just love Michiko Kuwano and, probably because of the cast, I prefer this "lesser" Ozu compared to its successor, The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice

Brothers and Sisters of the Toda Family (1941)
-average Ozu and dislike compared to Tokyo Story for the reasons I mentioned
-however, it should be noted this was Ozu's first film after fighting in the war in China (he was conscripted into firing poisonous gas cylinders at the enemy, shot at, and personally watched some of his fellow soldiers near him get blown up and die)
-watching this and noticing its deficiencies makes me enjoy Tokyo Story more

There Was a Father (1942)
-Ozu's ultimate Father-Son film
-companion piece to The Only Son which I think is objectively better
-nevertheless, I appreciate this uniquely as Ozu's most masculine film

Record of a Tenement Gentleman (1947)
-there was apparently a great debate about whether Ozu changed or not after the war, and I guess it was settled that he did not; but I think it's more like there was an interregnum and reset for him, after a period of time where his creative abilities simmered beneath the surface
-this is just good Ozu comfort food; nothing more, nothing less
-he's kind of in shock at the Japan he sees around him, and trying rather too obviously to project an esprit de corps
-signpost for the start of his post-war career

A Hen in the Wind (1948)
-i like this a lot more than the critical consensus
-after Record of a Tenement Gentleman, there are green shoots here; lots of ideas that he improves upon in his later masterpiece works
-the most striking examples include the visual repetition of outdoor shots (Late Spring) and the two women picking the grass (Early Summer)
-the ending is Ozu's violent break with the war and Japan's past, and it rings just a little false, but as I mentioned in one of the bullet points above, I think he improves upon the idea so much more in Early Spring

Late Spring (1949)
-this was such a transcendent film experience for me, I can hardly describe
-literally life changing
-Record of a Tenement Gentleman was a starting point from his pre war knowledge and experience, A Hen in the Wind was green shoots starting to bud; this was his post-war style literally starting to bloom
-his ultimate Father-Daughter film
-Setsuko Hara.... need I say more?

The Munekata Sisters (1950)
-this was an outlier because it was a for-hire project at another studio in the midst of a ton of labor strife and shooting disruptions
-superficially Ozu but I really hate the ending
-sidenote: Ozu and Kinuyo Tanaka rather notably had a falling out while shooting this movie, perhaps due to her rather infamous trip to the United States the year before

Early Summer (1951)
-the real chronological follow-up to Late Spring
-a less intimate, more communal Late Spring
-if Late Spring was Ozu's post-war career blossoming, then Early Summer was Ozu's post-war career in full bloom
-second of his five equally greatest films in my opinion; another transcendent and deeply moving, life changing viewing experience
-that field of wheat at the end will heal your soul

The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice (1952)
-the titular, climactic sequence is as good as it gets
-but as I mentioned earlier in this post, I prefer the cast and comedy in What Did the Lady Forget?
-that said, I bought a nice bottle of bourbon and will re-watch this tomorrow night, so maybe it will move up my rankings with a second chance

Tokyo Story (1953)
-third of Ozu's five equally greatest masterpieces
-again, when compared to Toda Family, the villainous children are so much more human here
-Ozu and trains..they were just a part of his films before Tokyo Story, but right before filming this movie, Setsuko Hara's brother (who was a cameraman on another set) was run over and killed by a train right in front of her eyes
-I think undoubtedly that tragedy had a profound effect on her acting performance in this film, and on Ozu moving forward too -- he intentionally and symbolically incorporates trains into the climax of this film and the next three or four out of five
-this one just gets better (and more mono no aware heartbreaking the more I watch it and the older I get)

Early Spring (1956)
-fourth of Ozu's five equally greatest masterpieces
-yes I rate this just as good as Late Spring, Early Summer, and Tokyo Story
-there is the field of wheat traveling shot at the end of Early Summer, and then there is the final shot of Ryo Ikebe and Chikage Awashima looking out the window at the passing train here in Early Spring-- these are the two most meaningful final scenes in all of Ozu for me

Tokyo Twilight (1957)
-this tragedy hits a little too close to home
-i think people misread the "conservative" ending, as a minority sometimes do in Late Spring; Takako doesn't pick one ending over another-- since this is Ozu's darkest tragedy, he gives her two horrible options and she has to choose a no-win situation
-outside of my top 5 Ozu, there are many others I love and like, but I would rate Tokyo Twilight as my highest rated outside the top 5

Equinox Flower (1958)
-what's more beautiful then when a man is about to give up the ghost, but then he reinvents himself in color?!?!
-i really love this film but I also think Ozu plays it totally safe from this point forward in his career, and accurately can be described as conservative (not that it's a bad thing, necessarily); -Tokyo Twilight (now considered a masterpiece) was at the time considered his biggest failure and the one he took the most personally

Good Morning (1959)
-i like this silly film
-Haruko Sugimura avoiding the pajama couple on the street is my favorite chuckle vibe
-i'm a filmsnob (duh) so I respect people who aren't too haughty and can drop down a level and appreciate Good Morning, but I also have some minor contempt for the base viewer who considers this his or her favorite Ozu or entry point into his filmography

Floating Weeds (1959)
-like I said I prefer the original dramatically
-but I prefer the visual and technical qualities even more with this color version: Kazuo Miyagawa!
-actually I love the comedy, and there's (perhaps uniquely in Ozu) quite a bit of sexual mood and imagery

Late Autumn (1960)
-Ozu's ultimate Mother-Daughter film
-it's the last of my five equally greatest Ozu masterpieces
-it must be the elegiac perfection?
-Setsuko Hara turning out the lights and going to bed with yet another novel variation on her sad, happy smiles might not be my most meaningful final Ozu scene, but technically it's the most perfect and definitely the most sublime

The End of Summer (1961)
-when someone calls this a lesser late Ozu film, I disagree; it's more of an outlier
-still beautiful, made at a different studio, kind of an odd ending
-but i love Ozu's old man humor in this film
-the lighter gag, the guy pretending to not be at the bar and then awkwardly but hilariously walking over, the running gag with one worker who incorrectly keeps interrupting and trying to guess what the other one is about to say, so many minor but chuckle-worthy gags and jokes in this film

An Autumn Afternoon (1962)
-blasphemy! my least favorite late Ozu film?
-i think i'm not old enough yet and categorically reject the resignation that permeates throughout


Such short reviews but so many great Ozu films, that was way too long but always worth the discussion!

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Re: BFI: 32 Ozu Films

#897 Post by Michael Kerpan » Thu Sep 23, 2021 10:58 am

FilmSnob -- I actually like or love many of the films you dismiss. I even wrote essays on 2 -- Passing Fancy (at Senses of Cinema) and That Night's Wife (in the BFI DVD set that included this film). Of full length films, I probably dislike Toda Family and Munekata Sisters least (though I only find this one comparatively dull, rather than obnoxious). BTW -- If Tanaka and Ozu had any sort of difficulties over Munekata Sisters, it seems to have been resolved soon after, because Ozu was one of the biggest supporters of her desire to become a director in her own right (while Mizoguchi basically betrayed her) and co-wrote the script of her second film.

While I love Green Tea and Floating Weeds, I also love their earlier relatives (What Did the Lady Forget and Story of Floating Weeds) a bit more. I generally turn the "added" soundtracks off for all the silent films. I see no need for them (and often they detract). Tokyo Inn is not only my favorite Ozu pre-talkie but possibly my favorite pre-talkie by anyone...

I see Tenement Gentleman as more serious and deeply critical of post-war Japanese behavior -- and I believe contemporary audiences felt the same way (it was not at all a popular film). While it had more bits of comic relief than Hen in the Wind (which was even more critical -- and even less popular I believe). I love both films.

I don't see the children in Tokyo Story as even remotely villainous -- they are just normal flawed humans -- just as their parents were (in the children's childhood) and are now. I can't think of a genuinely more even-handed film dealing with family dynamics. I find this film both extremely funny much of the time -- and also heart-breaking -- and also something beyond either.

Early Spring and Tokyo Twilight are Ozu's two other "critical" films. They have a sense of anger (bubbling under the surface mostly) that mirrored the attitude of younger directors who expressed this anger more overtly (and seem to have missed Ozu's undertones). Tokyo Twilight, his most critical film ever, was also his biggest box office (and critical) catastrophe. But it has always been one of the films I love the most.

I very much disagree that Ozu "plays it safe" after Tokyo Twilight. His underlying point (or one of his main ones) -- looking at and criticizing Japanese patriarchy is precisely the same as it had been in Tokyo Twilight. However, he learned that he needed to provide a more balanced treatment -- one with sufficient comedy that allowed his themes to not totally scare off his audience. Ozu was a Taisho-era progressive, not a 50s-era liberal -- but I think he had a clear-eyed appreciation of the flaws of the young and the old, the past and the present in these late films. And ultimately, It seems to me, he had more sympathy for the plight of the younger generation (who suffered from the folly of their male elders).

As to End of Summer -- the "lighter scene" may be my favorite slapstick moment in all of Ozu's films....

I find it almost impossible to rank Ozu's films -- because I love most of them so much. And even listing "sentimental favorites" is hard -- as I have so many of those as well. I am surely biased -- but I actually consider all of Ozu's films pretty "essential" -- even the ones I like least. ;-)

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Re: BFI: 32 Ozu Films

#898 Post by bottlesofsmoke » Thu Sep 23, 2021 12:08 pm

I guess I’m more fond of the early silent films than most, especially the comedies; while many of the stories would be considered inconsequential, they have some terrific gags in them. It’s Ozu remixing Lloyd and Lubitsch, two of my favorite filmmakers, which is a lot of fun. Similarly, I love Dragnet Girl as Ozu’s take on a Sternberg story, another one of my favorite filmmakers, and a great movie in its own right. Any slowing down in the middle is more than compensated for by Ozu’s compositions, the lighting, and Tanaka.

I enjoyed even some of the silliest early silents, like The Lady and the Beard, which I found, among other things, to be hilarious as a takedown of a college-age hipsterism which apparently knows no bounds of time or geography. I went to college in the Southern California desert and still remember a kid who would wear a wool winter hat even in the heat of summer, defiantly explaining to anyone who’d listen why isn’t wasn’t a strange thing for him to do, it became such a part of his identity he couldn’t abandon it. There are also plenty of interesting social critiques of modernization and westernization in the early silent films that I find fascinating as someone with interest in Japanese history and literature of the same period.

Though there is plenty to appreciate in basically all of Ozu’s movies, I’ve found that I personally prefer my Ozu liberally sprinkled with comedy, or at least lighter with the touch. To me the balance between the wonderful comedy and/or breezy scenes with moving moments of human emotion are what make Ozu special. Therefore, I Was Born, But…, Tokyo Chorus, Record of a Tenement Gentleman, Late Spring, Early Summer, The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice, Tokyo Story, Equinox Flower, Late Autumn and An Autumn Afternoon are my favorite of his films. Good Morning is such a pleasure to watch and, despite not having the traditional pathos of other Ozu films, honestly makes me re-think human interactions every time I watch it, which makes it worthy of standing with the best of his movies.

When I watched all his movies chronologically for the first time, I found some of the darker, more humorless movies suffered the most, (especially because they seem to be clustered together) and became a bit of slog and occasionally too repetitious when Ozu and his writing collaborators were trying to drive home a point. However, they came off better (especially Early Spring) when revisiting them later as one-offs, out of the context of watching so many Ozu movies in such a short time.

Of his “major” films, Tokyo Twilight is the one that I still didn’t really like, even after seeing it again. I think because it is such a somber (and long) movie, the many scenes of Akiko wandering around looking for people, and the general anguish of her and the other characters, becomes tedious without much of anything to break it up. In general, I love melodrama but something about how unrelenting this seems doesn’t click with me. I understand the point it is making, I just haven’t enjoyed watching it being made. I love plenty of other Japanese dramas that are similarly somber, but something about this is different to me.

MK and filmsnob - you guys both seem to really like it, is there something I am missing?

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Michael Kerpan
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Re: BFI: 32 Ozu Films

#899 Post by Michael Kerpan » Thu Sep 23, 2021 4:14 pm

I bust a gut watching Lady and the Beard. It really is a treat even if totally silly. Good Morning was MY first Ozu -- and I'm glad it was. It offers a lot to think about despite being extremely funny.

Maybe I like Tokyo Twilight because it so blatantly breaks all the (supposed) rules of Ozu-ism. Lots of night scenes, lots of cold, no humor (other than black humor so dire as to be unrecognizable). Also, this film was important to Ozu -- and he insisted on making it despite associates telling him it was a bad idea. So I go into it from this (maybe perverse) perspective. I think, more than any other post-war film, it undermines the claim that Ozu was some sort of conservative. As in Hen in the Wind, it really links Japan's militarist adventurism and expansionism with serious damage caused to ordinary people. It really points out just how "abandoned" young Japanese were by their parental generation (and by implication Japan's leaders). I kind of like seeing Ozu angry. There is something audacious about making the characters played by his most-beloved performers really damaged and destructive (maybe not "evil" -- but responsible for harming those they ought to be helping). The visual "ugliness" one sees sdo much of in this is a kind of "ugly beauty" I find striking. Finally, my heart really goes out to the younger daughter. Clearly, Ozu felt bad for Ineko Arima (and her character) -- as he allowed Arima's daughter character to triumph in his next film... ;-)

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Re: BFI: 32 Ozu Films

#900 Post by artfilmfan » Thu Sep 23, 2021 10:00 pm

Michael Kerpan wrote:
Thu Sep 23, 2021 4:14 pm
Clearly, Ozu felt bad for Ineko Arima (and her character) -- as he allowed Arima's daughter character to triumph in his next film... ;-)
That next film turned out to be one of my favorites.

My top-tier favorite Ozu films are: Late Spring, Early Summer, Tokyo Story, Late Autumn and Equinox Flower. Almost making this top-tier list are Early Spring and An Autumn Afternoon.

For some reasons, Tokyo Twilight has never gotten close to making this list.

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