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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