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
In this simple tale, young and insouciant insurance executive Shinji Okajima (Tokihiko Okada) gets himself fired when he berates his boss for badly treating one of his colleagues. In typical Ozu fashion, there's a bit of slapstick in the argument. Watch as the two men poke each other with Japanese fans with steadily increasing force. It's bad news for Shinji because, like America, Japan is feeling the effects of the Great Depression (Shinji even cracks a joke about Herbert Hoover), and jobs are scarce.
Continue reading: Tokyo Chorus Review
But beyond the light comedy are some pretty heavy messages about conformity, adult hypocrisy, and the challenges of successful parent/child relationships. Ozu takes it all on, but never loses sight of the fun.
Continue reading: I Was Born, But... Review
Ne'er-do-well single dad Kihachi (Takeshi Sakamoto) hates his boring brewery work and would much rather spend his afternoons drinking sake with Otome (Chouko Lida), the widow who runs the restaurant next door, and his work buddy Jiro (Den Obinata). Kihachi isn't much of a father figure to his impish son Tomio (Tomio Aoki), a smart but wild kid who shows his disrespect for his dad by striking funny Karate Kid martial arts poses in front of him.
Continue reading: Passing Fancy Review
Mr. Sugiyama (Ozu favorite Chisyu Ryu) is an aging father of two adult daughters. Older daughter Takako (Setsuko Hara, another Ozu regular), is separated from her boozing husband, while younger daughter Akiko (Ineko Arima) has slid into what is considered bad behavior in 1950s Japan: hanging around mah-jongg parlors in the bad part of town and getting herself pregnant.
Continue reading: Tokyo Twilight Review
Ozu introduces us to a widowed family patriarch Mr. Kohayagawa (Ganjiro Nakamura) who is enjoying his merry widowerhood much to the consternation of his three adult daughters, each of whom has a few issues of her own to work out. One daughter, Noriko (Yôko Tsukasa), is trying to fight off an arranged marriage while worrying that her boyfriend is moving all the way to Sapporo. Another daughter, Fumiko (Michiro Aratama), is married but concerned about the family's sake brewing business. And widowed daughter Akiko (Setsuko Hara) is trying to decide if she should seek another husband.
Continue reading: The End Of Summer Review
We begin at a temple ceremony marking the anniversary of the death of Mr. Miwa. His lovely widow Akiko (Setsuko Hara) is in attendance with her 24-year old daughter Ayako (Yôko Tsukasa). Miwa's old friends show up, and we soon learn that three of them were all once in love with Akiko, and they admire her to this day. Now that the time has come to find a good husband for Ayako, they plot among themselves to get this problem solved, with one of the men, Taguchi (Nobuo Nakamura), taking the lead.
Continue reading: Late Autumn Review
We first meet businessman Hirayama (Shin Saburi) at a big wedding for the daughter of one of his friends. Pretty much everyone in his social circle has a handful of daughters who need marrying off, and he himself has two. The older one, Setsuko (Ineko Arima), is prime marriage material.
Continue reading: Equinox Flower Review
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
But they do. Early Summer, like many of Ozu's "home dramas," is the story of a family - three generations of it - that struggles to find serenity within the cycle of life that the state of being human embodies. (Ozu's titles often find a metaphorical connection in the cycle of the seasons: Late Spring, Early Autumn, Late Autumn.) The central figure is 28-year-old Noriko, an attractive young single woman who lives with her brother Koichi, his wife Fumiko, their two young boys, and her elderly parents. We also meet her neighbors (a widower her age and his mother), her three girlfriends, a great-uncle who comes for a visit, her employer, and her brother's co-worker. Present in the thoughts of the family, though never pictured, is Noriko's brother Shoji, a soldier who remains unaccounted for from the war.
Continue reading: Early Summer Review
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