Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Eclipse Series 3 - Late Ozu |
Early Spring / Tokyo Twilight / Equinox Flower / Late Autumn / The End of Summer
Actors: Miyuki Kuwano, Shinichirô Mikami, Chishu Ryu, Ryuji Kita, Mariko Okada
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama
This month, we present five wonderful works of art by Japanese master filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu. Made directly after Tokyo Story, widely considered his most perfect film and one of the greatest movies ever made, these titles ... more »
Philosopher-Artist of Modern Urban Life
C. Rubin | San Leandro, CA | 06/25/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"First the "bad" news: you don't get the usual Criterion extras (commentaries/documentaries) for this release. Each movie has only chapter search and subtitle switch.
Now the good news: you do get very good audio/video (supposedly not restored by Criterion, but I couldn't tell the difference); the price per film is low; the contents of the box are unsurpassable: five major mature Ozu films, which means all of a sudden we have no less than ten late-period Ozu movies plus a silent release available from Criterion.
Was there a greater moviemaker than Ozu? Watch all eleven and you may find yourself asking that question."
Worth the wait
Stalwart Kreinblaster | Xanadu | 06/29/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Now we have 5 more late ozu films to digest - and such a delicious meal it is... Yasijuro ozu's films are noted for their simplicity and their sensitivity to the family dynamic.. As a master of his craft ozu's films are deceptively packed with details and very methodic in their construction.. His pacing combined with character revelations often leave us feeling completely satisfied at the end of the picture as if he has taken us down to a meditative place and let us emerge back into our own worlds at the end of the picture.. But speaking of such things is useless.. you need to watch these family dramas for yourself to understand the kinds of feelings that will emerge inside of you..
Ozu was a technician perhaps more quiet than directors like hitchcock, lang, or even kurosawa and mizoguchi - but his movies speak volumes without the extra action and manipulations.. That is probably why so many people find his work refreshing..
This box set contains 5 movies that are among his most effective.. my particular favorite was 'the end of summer' which featured some of his actors from previous films including Ganjiro nakamura as the very childlike grandfather figure.. This movie for me is one of Ozu's best - also it utilizes color in a very striking way (for another fine example of ozu's color see floating weeds).. The other films are also in the same league.. equinox flower is another favorite of mine..
Criterion collections new eclipse series is truly a most welcome venue to discover older movies that you may not have seen.. There is also an excellent collection of early bergman movies now available - and a samuel fuller box is on the way.. It is well worth the price.."
The End of Summer . . .
Ronald Scheer | Los Angeles | 10/08/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Laughter and sorrow mingle in this Ozu film about a large family of five siblings and their aging father, a widower who resumes a relationship with a mistress from 20 years ago. Meanwhile, two of his unmarried daughters consider the future as both have suitors of their own, and the family business, a brewery, struggles to keep itself afloat and there's talk of a merger. Many things, as it happens, are coming to an end, not just the summer, of which we are reminded in scene after scene as characters fan themselves and each other. One senses also that the film records the end of traditional Japanese culture as it absorbs everything American - from western-style dress and English phrases, to Coca Cola, a sing-along to the tune of "My Darling Clementine," and a young woman who seems to have walked straight out of a Gidget movie and wants a mink stole. The sun-washed colors are reminiscent of 1950s Hollywood.
Ozu's recognizable theatrical style is evident everywhere, as characters arrange themselves in carefully posed compositions or move in and out of the frame (often glimpsed through doorways) while the camera remains stationary and low to the floor. Sequences of scenes are separated by exterior shots of trees or narrow streets - like still photographs. A row of barrels lies tilted against a wall, each at exactly the same angle, two open umbrellas filling a space between them. In one memorable scene, a grandfather and his young grandson play a game of hide-and-seek, calling back and forth to each other, while the grandfather secretly changes clothes to make an escape from the house. It's Ozu at his best, a gently told story about life's intermingling of endings and new beginnings."
Autumnal Ozu Still Offers Many Pleasures for Aficionados in
Ed Uyeshima | San Francisco, CA USA | 07/31/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The quietude and lack of pretense in Yasujiro Ozu's idiosyncratic films continue to draw me to his impressive body of work, which gratefully continues to be restored by the Criterion Collection. From the stationary, tatami-level camera angles to the selective re-use of his familiar ensemble cast, Ozu displays an unforced cinematic style unique in its deliberate pacing and elliptical narrative structures. As it should be, his most acclaimed work is the "Noriko" trilogy - Late Spring (1949), Early Summer (1951) and the extraordinary Tokyo Story (1953) - which has been given deluxe DVD treatments by Criterion in individual packages in the past few years. His career continued until his death in 1962, and this box set from Criterion's subsidiary Eclipse celebrates five of the films he made after "Tokyo Story". Because there are none of the extras to be found in the previously released DVDs, neither an informative commentary from a film scholar nor a historical documentary, the films are left to stand on their own albeit with English subtitles. They represent a solid collection from a master, but I also think they are best appreciated after seeing the "Noriko" trilogy or his other masterpiece, 1959's Floating Weeds where you get in-depth orientations into Ozu's filmmaking style.
The set begins with 1956's "Early Spring" (****), a penetrating, unusually mature study in infidelity in post-WWII Japan. Ozu places his focus on Shoji, a young, inconsequential white collar worker suffering from weariness about his job and childless marriage to Masako. He starts to spend more time with his colleagues and less with his pragmatic wife. One of his co-workers is an independent-minded stenographer who has been affectionately named "Goldfish". A seemingly innocent flirtation leads inevitably to a full-blown affair. Even more than his more famous films, Ozu spends a lot of time on establishing shots to highlight Shoji's mundane existence, and the net effect is more insinuating in terms of defining his boredom and dead-end career. Ryo Ikebe and Chikage Awashima (the feisty best friend regaling in her freedom to be single in "Early Summer") play the young couple affectingly, though Keiko Kishi easily steals her scenes as the ambitious Goldfish.
The darkest of the five films is 1957's "Tokyo Twilight" (****1/2), which showcases Ozu's craftsmanship encased in a Douglas Sirk-like melodrama about two sisters leading lives of quiet desperation in spite of the earnest though clueless efforts of their father. With her baby daughter in tow, patient older sister Takako has just left her errant, self-absorbed husband. Petulant younger sister Akiko keeps searching for a boyfriend amid her social circle, a group of sarcastic slackers who spend all their time playing mah jong and gossiping. The sisters' bad choice in men can be sourced to not only a guilt-ridden father but a mother who deserted them long ago. She comes back to town followed in quick order by the inevitable consequences. Shorn of her usually sunny exterior, the legendary Setsuko Hara lends intense, complex melancholy to Takako, while Ineko Arima portrays Akiko with a hedonistic fury worthy of Louise Brooks. As the absentee mother, Isuzu Yamada has a few powerful scenes, while Ozu regular Chishu Ryu plays the father in his typically poker-faced manner.
A comparatively lighter tone can be found in Ozu's first color film, 1958's "Equinox Flower" (****1/2), which explores a favorite theme of the filmmaker's, the bond between a father named Hirayama and his daughter Setsuko. True to her contemporary nature, she makes an impulsive decision to marry, even though Hirayama had always expected that she would seek his approval beforehand. Reflective of prevailing customs, he is presumptuous enough to think he would choose her husband. At the same time, in contrast, he provides advice to others to follow their own hearts. The hypocrisy gradually dawns on the well-intentioned father in slow, uninterrupted takes, as Setsuko quietly rebels. Shin Saburi effectively manages to convey both the comic confusion and dawning revelation of a man caught in a generational transition, while Ineko Arima returns with a sunnier persona as Setsuko.
1960's "Late Autumn" (****) is really a variation on his classic 1949 father-daughter drama, "Late Spring". He goes further with this parallel by having Setsuko Hara, who played the daughter in the original film, play the mother Akiko in this one. This time, the character of Akiko has such an easy sisterly bond with her daughter Ayako that neither has an interest in dating or marriage. While Akiko's situation is accepted by society, Ayako's single status is a point of consternation, especially for three friends of Akiko's late husband, all of whom express feelings of unrequited love for the unavailable Akiko. Lending her remarkable sense of pathos, Hara provides her trademark stillness and quiet warmth as Akiko. Yôko Tsukasa is pretty and affecting as Ayako, while Mariko Okada provides an uninhibited spirit as Ayako's friend and colleague Yuriko. Shin Saburi, Nabuo Nakamura and Ryuji Kita play the matchmaking trio almost like a Shakespearean comedy troupe.
The last film of the set, 1961's "End of Summer" (****) has Setsuko Hara and Yôko Tsukasa of "Late Autumn" return as sisters Akiko and Noriko, both in search of husbands. They are the daughters of Manbei Kohayakawa, who seems to be going through his second childhood as his sake brewery flounders into a financial abyss. When Manbei takes up with his old mistress, the family is thrown into chaos as Ozu melds both comic and tragic elements into the deliberately paced story. Fittingly, the story's rueful last act echoes the poignant ending of "Tokyo Story". The rubric of change and resistance within a family is explored in depth and within the elliptical structure that is the filmmaker's trademark. Ganjiro Nakamura (the aging kabuki actor in Ozu's "Floating Weeds") plays Manbei with surprising subtlety, while Hara and the rest of the ensemble cast complement him impeccably."