Friday, April 6, 2007

April 6th Log

2004, Katsuhito Ishii, Japan
1st Viewing, DVD

What a fun film this is. Filled with quirky charm and inventiveness The Taste of Tea is an imaginative blend of genre. This is the third film from Japanese writer-director Katsuhito Ishii, and what he does is frees the film of a serious tone while remaining sincere. What results is a film that is a refreshing comedy centered around an eccentric family and the many characters, landscapes, visual imaginations within their lives. The film is strange and wild, yet at its core is truly touching (capped off by an incredibly sweet and moving scene when the family discovers their grandfathers collection of animated books he made for each family member). There are some wonderfully crazy visuals elements and characters and it is often the minor little quirks that make them so charming (the manga artist who is wearing bandages from being beaten up by his co-worker; surreal man-eating sunflowers; mud men; etc). However, the heart of the film lies in the family and they are each developed with such sincerity and warmth that you can not help but want to take part of it. While the Taste of Tea plays with genre, ultimately it is free of any conventions and the beauty is that the film never takes the narrative to any contrived or preachy levels, focusing on the characters and their behaviors a narrative message or conventional conclusion. At once funny and touching, bizarre and gentle The Taste of Tea is a charming and heartfelt film of family or more specifically of people.

1933, Yasujiro Ozu, Japan

Repeat Viewing, DVD

With Passing Fancy Ozu place a sense of heartwarming comedy amongst the setting of a Tokyo slum. In the most thoughtful and beautifully realized expression, Ozu captures the essence of a father-son relationship. The setting of this film was a change from Ozu's earliest work. While his previous films dealt more with subjects of youth and college, Passing Fancy became a transition into the working world. Passing Fancy was the first of an eventual thematic trilogy of sorts about Kihachi, a stubborn everyday man with a good heart. In these films (which also include A Story of Floating Weeds and An Inn in Tokyo), Kihachi is played by Ozu-regular Takeshi Sakamoto. Through Ozu's open, unpredictable, and simplistic narrative style, as well as Sakamoto's incredible performance, a deeply complex emotional texture is revealed within this character as well as his son (who is played with equal brilliance by Tomio Aoki). The film opens with a remarkable sequence that details Ozu's mastery of comedy and visual expression. Passing Fancy is a masterpiece of silent cinema, and a film that stands among the most pivotal of all Ozu's work.

>>> More on Passing Fancy @ A2P Cinema's Yasujiro Ozu website HERE

>>>> Here is a clip of the opening moments from Ozu’s heartwarming 1933 silent film Passing Fancy (Dekigokoro). The opening moments establish the films tone of poverty, community, and family while also detailing Ozu’s mastery of visual comedy and Takeshi Sakamoto’s natural performance:


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