Archive for February, 2009

Aka. Tokyo Monogatari, 1953 is one among the best 100 films. It is directed by Ozu. Any film of Ozu suffers considerably in retelling. He is a master of understatement which for a film maker would mean a visual narrative that somewhere hovers between make-believe and reality so finely pared to an extent life and art becomes almost interchangeable. Ozu’s use of camera I had already touched upon in my appreciation of his Late Spring. Indoors points of view are fixed at the eye level of characters from a low angle. Yet within each framed composition, Ozu’s camera does not move. While creating an intimate, familial atmosphere, in the case of presenting the lives of the Hirayama family, he prefers subtle gestures and mannerisms, prosaic conversations, daily rituals, and simple acts of kindness that are natural to them. Throughout the film, there is a pervasive sound of movement: ticking clocks, churning steamboats, passing trains. Beauty of life that Ozu describes is to be experienced than described.


It is a story about generational divide all the more sharp considering how vital culture, tradition Aesthetics are for the Japanese. In a post-war Japan all that was truly unique to them are being eroded. Modernization is the culprit and against it growing old has its insidious effect. An elderly couple, Shukichi (Chishu Ryu) and Tomi Hirayama (Chieko Higashiyama), venture forth from a small coastal village in southern Japan to visit their married children in Tokyo. Their eldest son, Koichi (So Yamamura), a doctor running a clinic in a working-class part of town, is too busy to show them around town, and their eldest daughter is occupied with her beauty salon. Is their condition anything extraordinary? In literature we may find examples most notably from King Lear and Pere Goriot of fathers treated vilely by their offsprings. Ozu has no use for such drama to paint the sad truth of human condition. It has been so then as it is now. Crabbed age and youth cannot march in step. Where life ceases to hold meaning for the former as was hinted in their youth, for the latter significance of life is entirely of another context and language. It is as strange as the argot or a coded language the youth would employ to baffle their peers. It is a misalliance if fathers and their offsprings are set upon finding a single yarstick to measure the beat of their lives.


The elderly couple are naturally disappointed since their children are as removed from their lives by their routine as their village is as backward as Tokyo is most advanced. Only their widowed daughter-in-law, Noriko, played memorably by Setsuko Hara, is willing to take time off work to show the couple the sights of Tokyo. The older children arrange for their parents to visit Atami Hot Springs, but the unimpressed couple soon returns to Tokyo. Tomi stays with her daughter-in-law while Shukichi goes out drinking with some of his buddies, and the bunch complains about their vague sense of disappointment toward their children. Not knowing how to entertain their parents (and to save money), the siblings decide to send them to a noisy, crowded spa. Unable to enjoy themselves, the elderly couple return early, only to be sent away for the evening when their unexpected arrival interferes with Shige’s scheduled club meeting. Consequently, Mrs. Hirayama (Chieko Higashiyama) spends a final evening with Noriko before heading back to Onomichi, and Mr. Hirayama (Chishu Ryu) finds some old friends in town, hoping to be invited to spend the evening, but in the process, gets hopelessly drunk. On the following day, Mrs. Hirayama offers the adult children some words of reassurance at the train station, and the couple leave. (ack: Synopsis- Jonathan Crow/ http://www.allmovie.com) .

September/October 2006 Directed by Yasujiro Ozu Produced by Takeshi Yamamoto Written by Kôgo Noda Yasujiro Ozu Starring Chishu Ryu Chieko Higashiyama Setsuko Hara Music by Kojun Saitô Cinematography Yuuharu Atsuta Editing by Yoshiyasu Hamamura Distributed by Shochiku (Japan theatrical) Release date(s) 3 November 1953 (Japan) Running time 136 min. Language Japanese (wikipedia) Similar Movies Late Spring (1949, Yasujiro Ozu) The Trip to Bountiful (1985, Peter Masterson) The Joy Luck Club (1993, Wayne Wang) Maborosi (1995, Hirokazu Kore-eda) The Ceremony (1971, Nagisa Oshima) Café Lumiere (2004, Hou Hsiao-Hsien) Kurosudo Nooto (2007, Isao Yukisada) Gone is the One Who Held Me the Dearest in the World (2002, Ma Xiaoying) A Thousand Years of Good Prayers (2007, Wayne Wang) Movies with the Same Personnel Early Summer (1951, Yasujiro Ozu) Late Autumn (1960, Yasujiro Ozu) Late Spring (1949, Yasujiro Ozu) Floating Weeds (1959, Yasujiro Ozu) An Autumn Afternoon (1962, Yasujiro Ozu) Good Morning (1959, Yasujiro Ozu) Early Autumn (1961, Yasujiro Ozu) No Regrets for Our Youth (1946, Akira Kurosawa) Other Related Movies is related to: The Funeral (1984, Juzo Itami) influenced: Cherry Blossoms: Hanami (2008, Doris Dörrie) all movie

Memorable Quotes:

Kyoko: Isn’t life disappointing?

Noriko: [smiles] Yes, it is.


# Voted #7 in Total Film’s 100 Greatest Movies Of All Time list (November 2005). # The original negative was lost soon after the film was completed, due to a fire at the vault of the lab in Yokohama city. The film had to be released using prints made from a dupe protective negative. (Imdb)


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Dear Diary


Just enough riches, which is beneath the notice of thieves, and envy of others; A little more than one’s actual needs for the day. Lucky is one who has such riches that hangs easy on his mind as not to rob his sleep.
No dog however faithful scratches itself merely because its master has a flea or two in his head.


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A Zombie bank is like the heroine in the Cinderella story: of course if she did not have a prince Charming to come to her rescue she would have been living among the cinder and under the thumb of her step-mother. Zombie banks that I am speaking of, have the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation for a stepmother. What FDIC does in her infinite wisdom?  She seizes banks like the helpless heroine of the fairy tale, and cleans her up a little (takes of her bad assets, pays off some of its debts and sells her off to two step sisters who are private investors. Do you think these step sisters will be genuinely concerned about her finding her Prince Charming? So Cinderella needs a fairy godmother. This is what nationalisation would do.
We all have a stake in the outcome of Cinderella. We are rooting for her to get out of that hell hole and from under the iron fist of the step sisters who would sell even their mother if that would give them a little profit. Imagine how the story of Cinderella would end as an anti-climax if the step sisters got their permanent entry into the palace and the Prince’s bed room for keeps? Cinderella is a story that is well beloved because it shows triumph of the good over evil through an external agency. Besides the story is well plotted.
Zombie banks similarly require the interference,  of deux ex machina, in the form of nationalisation.

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*I keep two kinds of secrets: one is too heavy for me to hold, which I want some other to carry for me. I have seen it in most cases reach the intended ears. Well the other stays home absolutely.
*To be well-read nowadays means catching up with the graffiti on the sub-ways.

*Punctuality is a virtue for those who have time. It is absolute necessity for everybody else.

*An ear for music! It depends upon who jingles coins and how much.

*I have a short name but a long memory to keep it from losing.

*Obedience is a virtue in the young. To the old, a necessity.

*To the wise, virtue is a matter of necessity.

*Poverty is not a virtue,- neither for young nor for old.
*No man can be called truly rich till he is buried by his own funds.

*Better to go with two minds after a thing than be in two minds about it.

*People who act upon impulses ought to retain a lawyer called Restraint.

*Pride of a maggot that looks down from an acorn of a tree on a termite-heap.

*In order to be understood, write down every advice you give in deeds.

*A good character is one of the five blessings. The other four are merely a repetition of it.

*One who seizes luck by the throat is necessity. He has his own means to make him pay.

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The federal government is in talks to beef up its ownership stake in Citigroup to as much as 40 percent of the company’s common stock, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday—just days after the Obama administration said it didn’t want to nationalise America’s largest banks.

Citigroup proposed the move to regulators, the Journal reported, and a Treasury Department spokesman signaled late Sunday that the government is open to the idea, even as he refused to discuss Citi directly.
The Big Bad N word
Treasury spokesman Isaac Baker told POLITICO: “… we are open to considering a request to [convert preferred stock to common shares] if the institution and its regulator believe it would promote the long term stability of that institution, and if we believe it’s in the best interest of long term stability of our economy and financial system.”

That represents a dramatic change of tone from White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on Friday. “This administration continues to strongly believe that a privately held banking system is the correct way to go, ensuring that they are regulated sufficiently by this government,” Gibbs said at the time. But throughout the week, stock market investors didn’t believe the denials, and continued furiously selling bank stocks out of fear that a government takeover would wipe out shareholder value. By the close of trading on Friday, Citigroup, one of the most beleaguered banks, traded at just $1.95 per share.

In some ways, it looked like the market’s worries about nationalization could have become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The collapse of Citi’s stock price makes it much more difficult for the bank to conduct business on Monday, and could spark a broad loss of confidence in the company’s viability. It could also impact the stock price and future viability of other banks.
( Ack:Eamon Javers, Carrie Budoff Brown  – Mon, Feb 23, Politico)
Nationalisation has its backers also. Nobel prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman said Sunday that bank nationalisation was “as American as apple pie” during a round-table discussion on “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos. The economist said it seems that the government has no other choice than to temporarily intervene in order to clean up banks with toxic assets and change management.
Professor Nouriel Roubini a.k.a. “Dr. Doom,” also on the round table, argued that banks ought to be nationalised.In this connection let me cite another item:
* Why This Recession Seems Worse Than ’70s and ’80s

“The current situation has nothing in common with the Great Depression,” says economist Steve Hanke of the Cato Institute and Johns Hopkins University. “The sooner they [in Washington] stop spinning the bad news story and say nothing, the sooner we’ll be more confident.”
“I don’t remember a president talking down the economy as much as President Obama,” says economist Chris Rupkey of Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi. “The economy is very psychological. There’s a herd instinct.”

That herd instinct kicked into overdrive after the sudden collapse of Lehman Brothers, when many say the economy fell off a cliff and a classical cyclical downturn merged with a nasty one-of-kind credit crunch. So yes, economists agree things are bad, but they need to be put into perspective.(nbc Philadelphia/news Alberto Bozzo-13 Feb,)
Yes. Try to put the consumer confidence in perspective before trying to wish away bad news by comparing with the Great Depression and recession of 70s and 80s. The world was not a global village when the Great Depression hit Americans; nor was its economy as tied into global economy as now. Each crisis is unique in its own way.
Some of them were from the eighties making lots and lots of money — for themselves, of course, but also for their investors. There were those who allowed such free-for-all even if that was a slippery slope because they were afraid of government regulation more than equity and fair play. What did keeping government from interfering entail? In their eyes pushing less advantageous to the wall was less of a moral issue than letting true American spirit of ingenuity full scope. These are the ones who cry hoarse at the mention of nationalization. In their mindset they equate with socialism. To them freeing the marketplace’s animal spirits for making money by financiers in whichever way they could, even though it bordered on criminal behavior didn’t seem to matter.
Note: WASHINGTON – Freddie Mac secretly paid a Republican consulting firm $2 million to kill legislation that would have regulated and trimmed the mortgage finance giant and its sister company, Fannie Mae, three years before the government took control to prevent their collapse.
In the midst of DCI’s yearlong effort, Hagel and 25 other Republican senators pleaded unsuccessfully with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., to allow a vote.

“If effective regulatory reform legislation … is not enacted this year, American taxpayers will continue to be exposed to the enormous risk that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose to the housing market, the overall financial system and the economy as a whole,” the senators wrote in a letter that proved prescient.

Unknown to the senators, DCI was undermining support for the bill in a campaign targeting 17 Republican senators in 13 states, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press. The states and the senators targeted changed over time, but always stayed on the Republican side…”
(Pete Yost-Associated Press 20 Oct, 2008)

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