Japanese salaryman Shuhei Hirayama's life is changing. One of his admired childhood professors now runs a noodle shop, his friends are growing older -- marrying off their children and taking new wives -- and he's realized that he can't keep his daughter trapped as the household caretaker. So Hirayama sets off to find a suitor for his daughter in the old tradition of arranged marriage. Although this dilemma drives the majority of Ozu's later work, it's Hirayamam's reaction to the change that thrills Ozu fans. Whereas the marriage of a widower's daughter is met with uncertainty, fear, and sadness in Late Spring and The End of Summer, Autumn Afternoon's Hirayama almost effortlessly supports his daughter's marriage, despite his impending loneliness. It's those subtle tonal shifts within Ozu's work that shows the evolution of Japanese life and culture -- one that goes beyond culture and strikes at the very core of family and relationships that we all can relate to.
Continue reading: An Autumn Afternoon Review
Like its companion release Zero Focus, what registers first about 1978's The Demon is its Hitchcockian air. Based on a story by Seicho Matsumoto, the best-selling Japanese mystery writer of his day, The Demon tracks the domestic horrors that befall three young children whose mother abandons them to their father's care. I use "abandon" because the father is not ideally positioned to care for them: he's married, and the mother of these children is not the wife. What's more, his wife has no inkling of the children's existence until the very day they're dumped at the small printing shop the couple runs. You might say that she does not react gracefully. Still, the demon of the title is not this resentful and cruel woman, nor a supernatural force of any kind - nothing happens in The Demon that science can't explain. Rather, this demon is the father himself. The tragedy and horror of the film reside not only in the acts this man commits, but in the way director Nomura ensures that the audience understands - maybe even, to a small extent, sympathizes with - the psychic terror this demon experiences at the thought of what he's done.
Continue reading: The Demon Review
'Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing)' arrives in April.
The two awards have made for a great 72nd birthday present for the country music icon.