Ryo Ikebe

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Early Spring Review


Excellent
If you want to know who Yasujiro Ozu was and what he was all about, this is a great place to start. Early Spring is a beautifully crafted distillation of all of Ozu's themes and techniques, a textbook example of what made him Japan's cinematic king of the domestic drama. The film runs long -- 2 hours and 28 minutes -- but it never feels boring, even as it deals with the most mundane of concerns.

Shoji Sugiyama (Ryo Ikebe) lives the bleak life of Tokyo salaryman, slaving away at the Toa Fire-Brick Company in a clerical role and staring out the window with his colleague to marvel at the "340,000" white-shirted office workers they watch scurrying to their jobs. At home, Sugiyama's very patient wife Masako (Chikage Awashima) doesn't mind when her husband spends his down time on company outings, at bars with his co-workers, playing mah-jong, or visiting a sick friend. She rarely joins in the fun, choosing instead to stay home and take care of the skimpy family budget.

Continue reading: Early Spring Review

Pale Flower Review


Weak
This Japanese version of a James Dean movie just didn't make much of an impression on me. Careening from gambling houses to street races and back, we follow an ex-con and the gambling-addicted girl he's in love with. Infused with 1960s yakuza sensibilities, the film has been interpreted (by the few who've seen it) as an analysis of Japan's place in the Cold War (though that seems awfully misguided) and an in-your-face reaction to popular films of the era. None of this makes the hopelessly muddled and smug Pale Flower any good, though.

Continue reading: Pale Flower Review

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Early Spring Movie Review

Early Spring Movie Review

If you want to know who Yasujiro Ozu was and what he was all about,...

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