After well over a year we are finally finishing Yasujiro Ozu’s Noriko Trilogy with the first in the series, Late Spring. While Early Summer remains our favorite of the bunch, Late Spring serves as a more overt reckoning with Ozu’s view of post-war Japanese society. It is rather different than, say, Suzuki’s. As such we have a talk about false nostalgia, and how occupation is bad, but that doesn’t mean that life before the occupation was good.
Yasujiro Ozu is brilliant.
We've already seen the final chapter of his Noriko Trilogy -- three films about family that each star Setsuko Hara as a 28 year-old woman named Noriko and are otherwise unrelated -- and now take a step back to the second, 1951's Early Summer. In about two years we'll finish off the sequence with the first film, Late Spring, but until then we can bask in the perfection that is Early Summer.
We return to the Yasujiro Ozu well with a double feature, or as Pat corrects me, a one and a half feature. Ozu made the silent black-and-white A Story of Floating Leaves in 1934 then during a break in his production schedule after finishing Good Morning early in 1959 he remade it as Floating Leaves in color and with sound. Fascinating to see a great artist approach the same basic material a quarter-century apart. It reminds me of Loudon Wainwright III's album Recovery in which he rerecorded some of his earliest work.
Yasujiro Ozu's 1953 drama Tokyo Story is principally about the slow march toward the future. Things change, and the sooner you accept that, the better. That's not to say that Ozu doesn't think one should hold on to the past, but just don't be controlled by it.
But theme is only the half of it with this incredibly realistic portrait of a multi-generational family. Well, at least more realistic feeling than that last portrait of a Japanese family we watched.
Yasujirō Ozu's 1959 comedy Good Morning is about two young brothers who go on a silence strike until their parents agree to buy a television. It's also a pretty great window into suburban life in Japan in the Sixties. That combines to stand in a pretty stark contrast to the other Japanese films we've watched so far. Maybe what we've learned is that Kurosawa would be more interesting to me if there were more fart jokes. Just kidding! Kurosawa is already interesting to me. Though a fart joke in High and Low would have been amazing.