#15 – Late Spring (1949), dir. Ozu Yasujiro

Late Spring (1949)

So happy together. Chishu Ryu and Setsuko Hara are quietly powerful as a father and daughter living together in post-war Japan in the Ozu Yasujiro masterpiece Late Spring.

This is it for the 1940s at Fan With a Movie Yammer, and we had the pleasure of finishing off this decade of Sight & Sound films on pretty much the highest of high notes. Late Spring (Banshun, 1949) is the second list film from acclaimed director Ozu Yasujiro, and also the first post-war Japanese movie to make the list. Japanese cinema is going to play heavily in our viewing of 1950s films, and it seems singularly appropriate that Ozu would be sending us off into that decade in grand style. Late Spring is a deceptively simple tale of a young woman resisting family and friends who are pushing her to marry. That is basically the whole of the plot, but Ozu and his exceptional cast imbue the scenario with a depth of feeling and provide such intimate shading of the core characters. Precise but never fussy, heartfelt and sad, but hopeful and very funny, Late Spring captures the essence of the human condition with confidence and a generosity of spirit. (107 min.) Continue reading

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#183 (tie) – I Was Born, But… (1932), dir. Ozu Yasujiro

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Ah so desu ka. Kids peer on with interest as a friend tricks his dad into removing his dentures in Ozu Yasujiro’s I Was Born, But…, a coming of age comedy set in the suburbs of Tokyo.

I Was Born, But… (Otona no miru ehon – Umarete wa mita keredo, 1932) is an adult story from a child’s eye point of view. Having just moved to a suburb of Tokyo, brothers Keiji and Ryoichi find themselves as outsiders among the neighborhood children. The movie deals with their struggle to ingratiate themselves with the local kids and to come to terms with the importance — or non-importance — of their family in the world at large. Oh, and it’s also extremely funny. I Was Born, But… is the latest totally silent film on the Sight & Sound list (1936’s Modern Times doesn’t quite count), and it is also the oldest Japanese film in the Top 250. The movie is by the prolific director Ozu Yasujiro, whose very formal directorial style works surprisingly well with the kinetic shenanigans of the children in this movie, creating something like an art house Little Rascals movie. Alternately beautiful and supremely silly, I Was Born, But… is the rare movie that let’s children be children, instead of being participants in a sanitized fairy tale or a live-action cartoon. It also let’s adults be adults, acknowledging that they can be nearly as ridiculous as their kids. (91 min.) Continue reading