Tokyo Story

Rated NR 134 minutes 1953

This weekend, Kyoko Hirano, director of the Film Center at the Japan Society in New York, comes to town to sign her translation of Ozu’s Anti-Cinema and kick off a series of screenings of Ozu’s films. Who is Ozu, you ask? Strangely, Ozu is amongst the most famous of the great Japanese film directors, who, because of the stillness of his films, has never really been marketed across the Pacific. Figuring that we’re all sophisticated enough to handle subtlety now that newspeak is the official government language, Ozu’s films are finally finding their American audience. If you like Bergman and Satyajit Ray and early Antonioni and Jafar Panahi, there’s a good chance you’ll like Ozu. He’s actually got as sharp an eye as those masters, and a meaner sense of human nature than Bergman at his most pessimistic. The series starts with Tokyo Story, which is perhaps his most accessible, if not his best work (actually, it’s widely considered his best work by the Japanese, but the Japanese eat live fish and are terrible bowlers), and concludes with Autumn Afternoon, Ozu’s final film and one widely thought to be among his two or three finest. Ozu’s use of montage, false continuity, banality and silence were a major influence on later filmmakers, and can be seen most clearly in Sophia Coppola’s Lost in Translation. Since that one just came out on DVD, why not rent it and then go to an Ozu screening and do a cross-cultural compare and contrast.

Film Credits

Director: Yasujirô Ozu

Writer: Kôgo Noda and Yasujirô Ozu

Producer: Takeshi Yamamoto

Cast: Chisu Ryu, Chiyeko Higashiyama, Setsuko Hara, Haruko Sugimura, Sô Yamamura, Kuniko Miyake, Kyôko Kagawa, Eijirô Tono, Nobuo Nakamura, Shiro Osaka, Hisao Toake and Teruko Nagaoka

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