Friday, March 30, 2007

March 30th Log

2007, Mira Nair, India / United States
1st Viewing, Theater

The Namesake is an enjoyable film on many different levels. It has moments of humor, intelligence, expressively metaphoric filmmaking and storytelling, but is above all an emotionally touching story of family. Richly textured the film centers around the cultural and generation gap between a wife and husband and their two children. The film begins centering around the husband and wife, who get married through an arrangement in India. The second half of the film mostly follows the development of their son as he is born and raised in America. Based on a best-selling novel, The Namesake appears to be much more familiar material for director Mira Nair. Nair previous film was a more curious experiment (the well made but dull 2004 film Vanity Fair). The Namesake is a film of family and culture, and most of all the film is one the details family and culture through changes of perspectives and identities. The performances are all very good. Kal Penn is finally given a role that can be taken seriously and he again proves to be an emerging talent. Acclaimed Bollywood veterans Irfan Khan and Tabu are also very strong as the parents. I think the film is particularly best in its less choppy first half, but the real emotional impact and revelations develop as it progresses. This is a thoughtful film. Maybe not with some minor flaws along the way, but The Namesake is one to embrace.

1962, Yasujiro Ozu, Japan
Repeat Viewing, DVD

An Autumn Afternoon is Ozu's final statement and in many ways one of his greatest films. Made in the year of his mothers death (whom he lived with his entire life), it is a deeply personal film of loneliness, and alcoholism and death. It's once again simplistic in approach and a film that reexamines many of his father-daughter themes used in previous films. It also contains moments that are inspirational and humorous. Really An Autumn Afternoon is the perfect final film for Ozu as he leaves his final marks on the quintessential style and themes of of his postwar work. As Ozu grew older his films became less and less focused on plot, but the emotional complexities always remain, and this is one of his richest emotional films. Above all, An Autumn Afternoon captures Ozu trademark postwar philosophy of life that change as well as sadness are both necessary and expected, and in order to be happy they should be accepted. Ozu's final images beautifully summarize both the film and his career: A drunk Shuhei (played by Ozu's definitive actor Chishu Ryu) mumbles to himself "Now I'm all alone" before the film cuts to a series of interior shots of the isolated home (representing Shuhei's emotional feeling). Then the film concludes with the final Ozu image of Shuhei alone and pouring tea before sitting down, a truly unforgettable final image that flawlessly (and incredibly simplistically) portrays the emotions of loneliness and loss. It is rather fitting that his final film is one which examines the cycle of life. Ozu died a year after this film was made, but his life remains unforgettable.

>> More on An Autumn Afternoon @ A2P Cinema's Yasujiro Ozu website HERE

>>> Here are the final moments of Ozu’s final film:


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