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The New York Film Festival Celebrating Ozu

YASUJIRO OZU: A CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION

October 4 - November 5, 2003 A Special Event of the 41st New York Film Festival Sponsored by Grand Marnier left: tokyo story

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Presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and Shochiku Company Ltd. in collaboration with The New York Times and the Government of Japan. Additional support provided by The National Endowment of the Arts. Special thanks to the Toho Company, Kadokawa Daiei, Cowboy Pictures, the Criterion Collection, The Japan Foundation, and the Japan Film Center of New York. Film descriptions by Derek Lam (http://www.camerastylo.com). To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Japanese film director Yasujiro Ozu, the New York Film Festival will present a complete retrospective of Ozu's extant works. Universally regarded as one the greatest film directors, Ozu's work was discovered outside of Japan much later than that of Kenji Mizoguchi or Akira Kurosawa. Although the winner of more Kinema Junpo "Best Film" awards (the Japanese Oscar) than any other director, his work was never deemed suitable for export as it was assumed that audiences would consider it "too Japanese." Only at the very end of his life did he begin to receive some international recognition; his final film, An Autumn Afternoon, opened commercially in Paris months before his death. In 1963, at the First New York Film Festival, AN AUTUMN AFTERNOON received its U.S. premiere, sparking an interest in his work that led to the subsequent commercial release of several Ozu masterworks in the 60s and 70s.

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The New York Film Festival Celebrating Ozu

Ozu has been seen as the great traditionalist of Japanese cinema, yet increasingly scholars see his films as monuments to a certain kind of modernist spirit in Japan. The director considered too Japanese for foreign audiences was in fact steeped in foreign, especially American, pop culture. Moreover, there is no other recognized master director of the classical cinema - not Sergei Eisenstein, nor John Ford, nor Jean Renoir - who continues to exert a comparable influence over contemporary filmmakers as does Ozu. His work has been cited as having a major influence on the films of artists as diverse as Jim Jarmusch (USA), Abbas Kiarostami (Iran), Aki Kaurismaki (Finland), and Hou Hsiao-hsien (Taiwan). This 36-film series will be a splendid and rare opportunity to discover the unique artistry of a major filmmaker whose work extends from the silent era to, through his profound influence on so many contemporary filmmakers, into the cinema today. Special thanks to the Toho Company, Kadokawa Daiei, Cowboy Pictures, the Criterion Collection, The Japan Foundation, and the Japan Film Center of New York. All silent films will have live piano accompaniment by Donald Sosin. TOKYO STORY / TOKYO MONOGATARI 1953; 135m Borrowing its premise from Leo McCarey's Depression-era masterpiece Make Way for Tomorrow (1937), as well as incorporating elements from Ozu's own BROTHERS AND SISTERS OF THE TODA FAMILY, TOKYO STORY follows an elderly rural couple (Chishu Ryu and Chieko Higashiyama) whose visit to the city finds them callously treated by their self-absorbed offspring. Only the surprising kindness of their widowed daughter-in-law (a luminous Setsuko Hara) provides a measure of spiritual relief. The occasion for the most inspired pairing of Hara and Ryu since their collaboration in Late Spring, TOKYO STORY climaxes with a poignant, electrifying exchange between the in-laws acknowledging life's inevitable disappointments that Ryu's otherworldly serenity renders little short of sublime. Deservedly a perennial favorite when it comes to polls of the Greatest Films Ever Made, TOKYO STORY counts among its many partisans Jim Jarmusch, Paul Schrader, Lindsay Anderson, and Aki Kaurismaki. Sun Oct 5: 2; Thurs Oct 16: 2; Fri Oct 17: 1 & 6:30 I WAS BORN, BUT.../ UMARETE WA MITA KEREDO 1932, silent; 91m (with live piano accompaniment) Ozu was a great director of children who resisted easy sentimentality and the temptation to reduce kids to cuteness. It follows that I WAS BORN, BUT... is not so much a children's film as a film about childhood, the rules of that peculiar universe and its antagonistic relationship with an adult world it at times uncannily mirrors. (Ozu hints which side has lessons to learn from the other by subtitling his film A Picture-Book for Adults.) When Yoshi (Tatsuo Saito) moves into his boss's neighborhood, his two young sons (Hideo Sugawara and PASSING FANCY'S Tokkan Kozo) find themselves mercilessly bullied. They fight their way back, claiming inspiration from their authoritarian father, only to be shocked one day when they observe his obsequious manner in front of his boss. Determined to rid him of his self-demeaning ways, the boys take on a hunger strike. Ozu's caustic commentary on social hierarchies and the essential injustice of power relations was sufficiently dark for Shochiku to delay its initial release for two months. Ozu later remade the film in color and sound as GOOD MORNING / OHAYO. Sun Oct 5: 12 noon; Sat Oct 25: 2 & 6:30 GOOD MORNING / OHAYO 1959; 94m Predicting that "TV will produce 100 million idiots," Hayashi (Chishu Ryu) refuses to buy his two young sons their much-desired boob tube. When he quiets their protest by scolding them for talking too much, the boys take a vow of silence, arguing that, after all, most adult talk is meaningless, idle chatter. And indeed, they are right. The housewives in the neighborhood circulate rumors through their daily gossip that would be malicious if they weren't so ridiculously trivial, while prospective lovers discuss the weather instead of declaring their affections for one another. Exactly how effective are those casual addresses like "Ohayo!" as a "social lubricant?" An amiable, at times sparkling comedy demonstrating once again Ozu's mastery working with child actors and his wry view of consumerist Japan, GOOD MORNING revisits the basic premise of I WAS BORN, BUT with an undimmed youthful enthusiasm for childhood rebellion and flatulence gags (this shortly

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The New York Film Festival Celebrating Ozu

after Ozu received the government's Purple Ribbon Medal, one of Japan's highest honors!) Sun Oct 5: 4:45; Thurs Oct 23: 4:30; Sun Oct 26: 3; Tue Oct 28: 1 LATE AUTUMN / AKIBIYORI 1960; 128m In this light-hearted reworking of LATE SPRING, Setsuko Hara returns, not as the daughter whose reluctance to marry makes her father anxious, but as a widow who frets over her daughter's unwed status. To the generally somber tone of the earlier film, Ozu adds much comedy in the form of a trio of aging, emasculated businessmen, friends of the family who try to goad the widow into marrying one of them. Mariko Okada, daugher of Tokihiko (star of such '30s Ozu classics as THE LADY AND THE BEARD and TOKYO CHORUS), gives a sparkling performance as the daughter Ayako's free-spirited friend, her modern, liberated attitude a foil to Ayako's stiff conservatism. One of Ozu's loveliest films. Sun Oct 5: 6:45; Thurs Oct 30: 3:30 & 8:20 AN AUTUMN AFTERNOON / SANMA NO AJI 1962; 133m As much a reworking as an updating of LATE SPRING, Ozu's final film recasts Chishu Ryu as an aging widower anxious to settle his daughter's marriage. Taking into account the social transformations of the intervening decade, Ozu recontextualizes the earlier story by making the female characters far more assertive (Shima Iwashita's Michiko flatly tells her father to do the dishes) and keeping an eye out for characters enamored of expensive golf clubs and refrigerators, thus extending the ironic commentary on growing consumerism laid down in OHAYO/GOOD MORNING. Ozu's mother, with whom he had lived all his life, died during the film's pre-production, and even more than usual AN AUTUMN AFTERNOON is suffused with a strong sense of nostalgia. The film's Japanese title, THE TASTE OF MACKEREL, alludes to the time in late summer when the delicacy is in season, and Ozu's wistful swansong is never less than poetic in its evocation of particular moods, flavors, and places, not least the hauntingly empty house to which Ryu once again returns in an unforgettable coda. Sun Oct 5: 9:15; Mon Nov 3: 3:45 & 8:15; Wed Nov 5:3 THE ONLY SON / HITORI MUSUKO 1936; 103m Ozu's first complete talkie, as well as one of his finest films, THE ONLY SON is among the most disquieting depictions of parent-child discord. As a child, Ryosuke's promising achievement at school prompts a teacher to recommend him to middle school. Initially refusing, his mother, the widowed Otsune (Choko Iida), eventually agrees to support his education by forsaking retirement and continuing to work in a silk mill. Thirteen years later, she visits Ryosuke in Tokyo, only to find that her son ekes out a living as a lowly night-school teacher. Parental disillusionment is a theme Ozu would return to many times, notably in EARLY SUMMER and TOKYO STORY, but THE ONLY SON illustrates it with a piercing sadness and unparalleled sense of despair. For Ozu, the widening gulf between mother and son reflects not only their age differences, but the latter's advanced education as well: in a pitch-perfect episode, Ryosuke excitedly takes his illiterate mother to an imported talkie (a biopic of Franz Schubert, of all things!), only to find her falling asleep. Filled with such acute observations and featuring a knockout performance from Choko Iida, THE ONLY SON is an unforgettable, emotionally devastating experience. Sat Oct 4: 1:30; Mon Oct 6: 7:45; Sun Oct 12: 1:30 WHAT DID THE LADY FORGET? / SHUKUJO WA NANI O WASURETA KA 1937; 71m Following THE ONLY SON, Ozu proposed an even bleaker film, WHAT A CHEERFUL GUY, THIS MR. YASUKICHI, about an aging salaryman who loses his sanity. Shochiku demanded something lighter, and Ozu responded with this sparkling comedy that takes him from his usual downtown milieu to the well-appointed dwellings of the privileged classes. The plot revolves around the henpecked Professor Komiya as he's prompted to rebel against his overbearing wife during a visit by his high-spirited niece Setsuko. Ozu has great fun la Lubitsch skewering bourgeois niceties, while the comic disconnect between carefree youth and their often stuffy, intractable elders looks forward to

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The New York Film Festival Celebrating Ozu

such postwar work as EQUINOX FLOWER, AN AUTUMN AFTERNOON, and THE FLAVOR OF GREEN TEA OVER RICE. Prededed by KAGAMIJISHI (1935; 19m) KAGAMIJISHI is a lion dance in kabuki theater, about a court dancer possessed by the spirit of a lion mask, transforming from a shy maiden to a ferocious creature. One of a number of bunka eiga "cultural films" commissioned by the Japan Cultural Association to promote indigenous culture abroad, Ozu's only documentary showcases celebrated kabuki performer Kikugoro Onoe IV (whose performances apparently inspired Cocteau's The Beauty and the Beast). Divided into two parts, one a silent segment documenting the actor behind the scenes, the other capturing Onoe's famed dance in sync-sound, KAGAMIJISHI testifies to Ozu's lifelong interest in traditional theater (see the two versions of FLOATING WEEDS), and anticipates the memorable kabuki sequences in LATE SPRING as well as THE FLAVOR OF GREEN TEA OVER RICE. Mon Oct 6: 6 & 9:45 DAYS OF YOUTH / WAKAKI HI 1929, silent; 104m (with live piano accompaniment) Ozu's earliest surviving film is a hilarious, Hollywood-style student comedy, replete with homages to Frank Borzage and Ozu's beloved Lubitsch. Gleefully ignoring their studies, happy-go-lucky Watanabe (Ichiro Yuki) and his geeky friend Yamamoto (a very Harold Lloyd-like Tatsuo Saito) try to outdo one another in winning the affections of a young girl. When the action moves to the ski slopes, Ozu pulls out all the stops for a series of great physical gags, including the neat, vertiginous POV shot of a neophyte skier. Keep an eye out for the sign of a barbershop: it was common practice for Shochiku and rival studio Nikkatsu to sneak in names of each other's screenwriters as an in-joke, and whose appears here other than that of the great Kenji Mizoguchi? Tue Oct 7: 2 & 6:30 I GRADUATED, BUT / DAIGAKU WA DETA KEREDO 1929, silent; 70m (with live piano accompaniment) Recent college graduate Tetsuo (Minoru Takada) has to swallow his pride when, after several rejections, he's still unable to find a job, and can no longer hide his status of unemployment from his mother and fiance. In a country where over 300,000 were unemployed, Ozu's timely drama resonated with the populace, and became part of the zeitgeist when its title caught on as a popular catchphrase. The great Kinuyo Tanaka, who would go on to star in a number of masterpieces by Ozu, Naruse, and Mizoguchi as well as embark on her own directorial career, makes her Ozu debut with a delicate performance as the young fiance Michiko. Tue Oct 7: 4:30 & 9:15 WALK CHEERFULLY / HOGARAKA NI AYUME 1930, silent; 99m (with live piano accompaniment) Opening with a bravura tracking shot that only hints at the virtuoso filmmaking to follow, Ozu's highly entertaining gangster pastiche revels in Hollywood iconography and stylistic abandon. Nicknamed "Ken the Knife" (shades of The Threepenny Opera), temperamental swindler Kenji finds himself falling hard for the target of one of his cons. As he contemplates reform, his sinister girlfriend Chieko (a vampish Satoko Date, donning a Louise Brooks bob cut) attempts to lure him back into a life of crime. Crammed with playful stylistic devices and lurid expressionist borrowings, the action-packed WALK CHEERFULLY paved the way for Ozu's later, even more extravagant, chiaroscuro underworld fantasia, the spectacularly delirious DRAGNET GIRL. Wed Oct 8: 2 & 6:30 BROTHERS AND SISTERS OF THE TODA FAMILY / TODA-KE NO KYODAI 1941; 105m Following the death of their father, the brothers and sisters of the Toda family find themselves laden with debt. Mrs. Toda, with her youngest daughter in tow, tries to set up residence with one her married children, only to be shunted around from one household to the next. The youngest son Shojiro, returning from work in Tianjin, upbraids his siblings for their selfishness. Ozu's wartime movie is not without its propagandistic aspects (Shojiro's business activity in China is described

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The New York Film Festival Celebrating Ozu

in the context of economic expansion rather than outright military invasion), but distinguishes itself by a scrupulously detailed depiction of its upper-class milieu. The confident handling of an extended family structure and its numerous characters also anticipates the large casts of TOKYO STORY and the saga-like THE END OF SUMMER. Wed Oct 8: 4:15 & 8:30 I FLUNKED, BUT / RAKUDAI WA SHITA KEREDO 1930, silent; 64m (with live piano accompaniment) Ozu was given a week to make this diverting "exam hell" vignette about a student who fails his graduation test when the shirt on which he wrote his crib notes gets taken away by the laundry lady. The film's gags are pulled off with characteristic aplomb, and Ozu cranks up the irony by letting the failed student enjoy his indefinitely prolonged school life while the graduates go on to suffer job search humiliations. An amusing obverse of I GRADUATED, BUT that provides a comic perspective on unemployment. Preceded by A STRAIGHTFORWARD BOY / TOKKAN KOZO 1930, silent; 38m (with live piano accompaniment) Taking its inspiration from O. Henry's "Ransom of Red Chief," this charming short follows two hapless kidnappers who find more than they bargained for when their abductee, a mischievous brat with a seemingly endless supply of energy, pesters them incessantly for toys and candy. Shot in just three days, A STRAIGHTFORWARD BOY was a vehicle for Ozu's favorite child star, Tomio Aoki, who, as a result of the film's popularity, adopted his character's name (literally, "a boy who charges into you.") Aptly characterized by film scholar David Bordwell as "diabolical," the irrepressible Tokkan Kozo would further display his Dennis the Menace-like antics as the younger brother in I WAS BORN, BUT, and as another mean kid with a sweet-tooth in the great Kihachi film, PASSING FANCY. (Fans of Howard Hawks may note that he also adapted the same O. Henry story, even if Ozu's is arguably the finer film.) Thurs Oct 9: 2:15 & 6:30 THERE WAS A FATHER / CHICHI ARAKI 1942; 94m Throughout his career, Ozu demonstrated great sympathy for the plight of schoolteachers. Often, he would sketch them as sadly impoverished retirees, their down-and-out status incommensurate with the efforts they've made in educating children. Normally giving them a secondary role, Ozu only once placed a teacher center stage, in this wartime fatherand-son drama. Chishu Ryu plays a self-abnegating schoolteacher who sternly insists on placing duty above personal feelings. Once again, as in THE ONLY SON, a parent is separated from his child in order to provide for his education: Horikawa (Ryu) places his son Ryohei in a boarding school while he looks for work in Tokyo. But here the gulf between the two is self-imposed. After Ryohei graduates and becomes a rural schoolteacher, he offers to move to Tokyo to take care of his father, only to be rebuffed; Horikawa would not want him to take leave of his work. There may have been a propagandistic edge to the film's emphasis on self-sacrifice: a few offending scenes were cut for THERE WAS A FATHER'S postwar rerelease. Thurs Oct 9: 4:30 & 8:45 RECORD OF A TENEMENT GENTLEMAN / NAGAYA SHINSHIROKU 1947; 72m Ozu returns to the downtown milieu of his Kihachi films for this Occupation-set tribute to loving motherhood and the communal spirit. Widowed Otane (Ozu stalwart Choko Iida) is initially reluctant to take care of the homeless boy her neighbor puts in her charge. But eventually she takes to him, and when the boy runs away in fear of punishment for wetting his bed, she goes on a frantic search. The war left in its wake many orphans, and RECORD OF A TENEMENT GENTLEMAN represents Ozu's contribution to the genre of films depicting that problem. It also harkens back to the warmhearted, "just folks" neighborhood drama that was the specialty of Ozu's studio, Shiro Kido's Kamata division, in the 1930s. The film's stylistic rigor and humanist concern prompted scholar David Bordwell to remark: "If Ozu had made only this seventytwo minute film, he would have to be considered one of the world's great directors." Fri Oct 10: 2:30, 6 & 9:30

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The New York Film Festival Celebrating Ozu

A HEN IN THE WIND / KAZE NO NAKA MENDORI 1948; 83m This dark foray into seemingly Mizoguchian territory in fact revisits the storyline of Ozu's own WOMAN OF TOKYO. In the earlier film, a woman secretly supports her brother's education by working at a bordello, only to be violently reproached when he finds out. Here, with her husband away at the battlefront, a young mother (Kinuyo Tanaka, heartbreaking) prostitutes herself for one night in order to save her ailing child. Learning her actions upon his return, her husband responds with a shocking, physical savagery. Even more atmospheric in its depiction of Occupation Tokyo than RECORD OF A TENEMENT GENTLEMAN, A HEN IN THE WIND finds the postwar metropolis littered with tawdry film posters, army ration tin cans, and cartons of penicillin. Fri Oct 10: 4:15 & 7:45 YASUJIRO OZU: INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVES October 11 and 12 As part of our five-week retrospective of Yasujiro Ozu, Columbia University together with the Film Society has organized a conference on October 11 and 12 featuring scholars from around the world who will offer new approaches to Ozu.s films and their legacy. Four panels are planned: (1) (2) (3) (4) THE PLACE OF OZU WITHIN JAPANESE FILM HISTORY THE INTERNATIONAL REACTION/RESPONSE TO HIS FILMS OZU AND MODERNISM ARTIST'S SYMPOSIUM: OZU TODAY AND TOMORROW

Conference Organizers: Paul Anderer and Richard Pea Generous Support for this Conference was provided by the Weathered East Asian Institute, the Donald Keene Center, the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Free Admission Saturday, October 11 Walter Reade Theater, 165 West 65th Street, Plaza Level Lincoln Center: 2 pm - 4 pm: The Place of Ozu in Japanese Film History Moderator: Daisuke Miyao, Columbia University Panelists: Richard Combs; Keiko McDonald; Mitsuhiro Yoshimoto; Tadao Sato 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm Ozu Outside: The International Response to Ozu's Work Moderator: Zhang Zhen, New York University Panelists: Claudio Espaa; Tom Gunning; Chuck Stevens Sunday, October 12 Italian Academy, 1161 Amsterdam Avenue at West 117th St. Columbia University 2 pm - 4 pm Ozu and Modernity Moderator: Dudley Andrew, Yale University Panelists: Shiguehiko Hasumi; Charles Tesson; Robin Wood; Yoshishige Yoshida 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm Ozu Today and Tomorrow Moderator: James Schamus, Columbia University Panelists: Phillip Lopate; Paul Schrader The conferences will be held at the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center on Saturday, October 11 from 2-6:30, and at Columbia University, Italian Academy, 1161 Amsterdam Avenue at 117th Street, on Sunday, October 12 from 2-6:30 pm. Admission is free. Complimentary tickets for both days may be picked up at the Walter Reade Theater Box Office starting September 15. LATE SPRING 1949;108m Ozu's favorite, LATE SPRING brought about a fruitful reunion with screenwriter Kogo Noda that would last for the remainder of his career. It also marked the Ozu debut of Setsuko Hara, in the first of many classic pairings with regular Chishu Ryu. Hara plays Noriko, a loving, uncommonly old-fashioned daughter who refuses to marry so that she can take care of her widowed father, Professor Somiya (Ryu). When Somiya begins to worry that she might grow despondent once he passes away, he devises a ruse to incite her to marry - namely, by
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The New York Film Festival Celebrating Ozu

pretending to consider remarriage himself. A film of subtle glances and quiet, eloquent gestures, LATE SPRING contains one of the most indelible images Ozu ever put to screen: the sight of Ryu returning to an empty house following his daughter's wedding, sitting alone and peeling an apple. With its prototypical late Ozu storyline, the seminal LATE SPRING set the template for such later reworkings as EARLY SUMMER, LATE AUTUMN, and AN AUTUMN AFTERNOON. It can also lay claim to being one of the director's most influential films, counting among its many admirers directors Claire Denis and Hou Hsiao-hsien (who incorporated a clip into his historical epic, Good Men, Good Women). Sat Oct 4: 3:45; Mon Oct 13: 4:15 & 8:50 THE MUNEKATA SISTERS / MUNEKATA KYODAI 1950; 112m When a group of top-ranking actors left Toho during a strike to form their own production company, they engaged Ozu to direct this prestigious adaptation of Jiro Osaragi's serialized novel. Tradition-bound Setsuko (Kinuyo Tanaka) stays faithful to her husband Mimura despite his violent, drunken rages. Her liberated sister Mariko (Naruse regular Hideko Takamine) encourages her to leave him and rekindle a romance with a former lover, Hiroshi, whom she herself is secretly in love with. Meanwhile, their aging father (Chishu Ryu) is diagnosed with cancer. Billed at the time as the most expensive movie in Japanese film history, THE MUNEKATA SISTERS is a high production-value heritage film, shot on picturesque locales throughout the country that Ozu presents with adoring reverence as sites of Japanese tradition. Mon Oct 13: 2 & 6:30 EARLY SUMMER / BAKUSHU 1951; 124m The Mamiya family, boisterous grandchildren and all, enjoy a contented existence and a lively household. They worry, though, about the future of daughter Noriko (Setsuko Hara), who, at twenty-eight, has passed the conventional age of marriage. While her parents and elder brother mull over a marriage prospect, Noriko makes a sudden, impulsive decision of her own. The move befuddles her parents and meets with furious objections from conservative brother Koichi (Chishu Ryu). Ozu seldom depicted three generations living under the same roof, but here he provides an elegy mourning the loss of that traditional ideal in the face of changing social economics. When Noriko marries, the loss of extra income triggers the breakdown of the idyllic, extended household into more modern, nuclear units. The film's original Japanese title, WHEAT HARVEST SEASON, refers to the film's haunting final shots of a wheat field in harvest, an oblique memorial to the war dead, and a reminder from Ozu that Shoji, the Mamiyas' missing son referred to throughout the film, was also a casualty of that disastrous conflict. Tue Oct 14: 3:45 & 8:30; Wed Oct 15: 6:15 THE FLAVOR OF GREEN TEA OVER RICE / OCHAZUKA NO AJI 1952; 115m Tired of her husband Mokichi's unsophisticated, earthy manners, spoiled, snobbish Taeko escapes on a hot spring getaway with her friends from the rich wives club. In her absence, Mokichi encourages her young niece to run away from an arranged date. The unpardonable faux pas provokes Taeko to unleash her full fury, daring any further breaches of propriety. Ozu returned to Tokyo and the social satire of WHAT DID THE LADY FORGET? for this genial, comic examination of how well the traditional folk virtues embodied by the unpretentious Mokichi stand up in a flashily modernized, bourgeois setting. An unexpectedly dynamic depiction of postwar Tokyo, complete with pachinko parlors and baseball games, THE FLAVOR OF GREEN TEA features a surprising amount of camera movement for postwar Ozu. Tue Oct 14: 6:15; Wed Oct 15: 4 & 8:45 EARLY SPRING / SOSHUN 1956; 144m Bored with his marriage and the routines of office life, young salaryman Shoji has a brief fling with a commuter friend. The liason estranges him further from his wife and threatens their already precarious relationship. The rituals of workaday life, from the morning commute to the banal gossip among bored coworkers, have rarely been observed with as much patience and attention to diurnal rhythms as here. "I wanted," said Ozu, "to portray the pathos of the white-collar life within the

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The New York Film Festival Celebrating Ozu

context of a transforming society." The object of critique may remain the same as Ozu's prewar, salaryman silents, but the method has changed, from overt, comic satire to something more minimalist and expansive: "The film may be the longest among my postwar work, but I wanted to avoid any sense of dramatic plotting, instead to relate a number of seemingly disconnected episodes where nothing much happens, so as to let the viewer experience the peculiar sadness of the office man's existence." Thurs Oct 16: 4:35; Fri Oct 17: 3:45 & 9:15 THAT NIGHT'S WIFE / SONO YO NO TSUMA 1930, silent; 66m (with live piano accompaniment) After he robs a bank to pay for his feverish daughter Michiko's medical treatment, impoverished artist Shuji (Tokihiko Okada) finds himself trapped in his apartment, where his loving wife and a determined cop wait out a suspenseful evening until Michiko recovers. With this unusual hybrid of crime thriller and domestic drama, the young Ozu set himself a daunting technical challenge that he surmounted with a typically resourceful command of film language: save for the opening reel-a visual tour-de-force depicting the bank heist in a tense eight-minute sequence without resort to a single intertitle-the whole of THAT NIGHT'S WIFE takes place on a single set. Ozu's fluid and endlessly inventive coverage obviates any sense of visual claustrophobia, while the many surprise twists and reversals in his and screenwriter Kogo Noda's scenario keep viewers in an agreeable state of suspense. Preceded by WOMAN OF TOKYO / TOKYO NO ONNA 1933, silent; 47m (with live piano accompaniment) One of Ozu's preferred ways to present intergenerational conflict was by pitching self-sacrificing parents against progeny of various degrees of self-absorption. Rarely, though, did he dramatize that clash with such intensity as here. Elder sister Chikako secretly moonlights in a sleazy nightclub in order to put her brother Ryo through college. When the unsuspecting Ryo finds out, he attacks her for bringing shame to the family, and comes rapidly unhinged with guilt. The usual parent-child relationship takes on a sibling variation in this remarkably concentrated short. Ozu recalls embarking upon his systematically unorthodox form of coverage with WOMAN OF TOKYO, the film featuring many of the stylistic hallmarks (low camera angle, matching compositions, across-the-axis cuts, and duration-based editing) that would make his cinema increasingly one governed by formal, near ritualistic, rigor. It also gave him yet another opportunity to pay tribute to his favorite Hollywood filmmaker, Ernst Lubitsch. Wed Oct 22: 1 & 6 TOKYO TWILIGHT / TOKYO BOSHOKU 1957; 140m TOKYO TWILIGHT takes place in a dark, wintry Tokyo, a nocturnal town of smoke-filled bars and seedy mahjong parlors. Chishu Ryu plays a father whose wife left him years ago with a subordinate, and whom he has made his daughters Takako (Setsuko Hara) and Akiko believe is dead. At a time of crisis for both sisters - Takako returning to her family home following an argument with her abusive husband, Akiko seeking an abortion after a futile search for her boyfriend - the long-missing mother makes a visit to Tokyo with her new husband to devastating result. One of Ozu's darkest films that courts melodrama as it paints the picture of a forlorn generation severed from past traditions and bereft of hope for the future. Wed Oct 22: 3:15 & 8:15; Sun Oct 26: 7; Tue Oct 28: 3 EQUINOX FLOWER / HIGANBANA 1957; 118m Stern, workaholic businessman Hirayama (an outstanding Shin Saburi) denounces the unromantic arranged marriage his parents imposed on him, yet recoils in anger when his own daughter, Setsuko, decides whom to marry without consulting him. Accused of being inconsistent, he angrily protests: "Everyone is inconsistent, except God. The sum total of inconsistencies is life!" With this ambivalent, seemingly hypocritical patriarch, Ozu fashions one of his most memorable characters: a sad, remarkably dour pater familas of conflicted impulses stubbornly clinging to preordained, conservative thinking in spite of his own better judgment. Ozu's first full-fledged comedy in over twenty years, the gorgeously shot EQUINOX FLOWER was also his first film in color. Though he remained steadfast in opposing widescreen, which to him resembled "a roll of toilet paper," Ozu took to color with great enthusiasm. Particularly enamored of the way red tones reproduce on Agfa film, he playfully populates his shots with objects possessing various shades of the color. "There are about ten different shades of red," he told one interviewer. "People who like
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The New York Film Festival Celebrating Ozu

red are either geniuses or madmen." Thurs Oct 23: 2; Sat Oct 25: 4 & 8:30 THE LADY AND THE BEARD / SHUKUJO TO HIGE 1931, silent; 75m (with live piano accompaniment) Kendo champ Okajima (Tokihiko Okada) is conservative in more ways than one: he sports an unfashionable beard, refuses to wear Western clothes, and clings to old-fashioned conventions when dealing with women. When the love of a demure, kimono-clad office girl prompts him to shave his beard and modernize his ways, he finds himself suddenly attracting the affections of a chic, haughty aristocrat and a tough, brazenly westernized swindler. Ozu shot this comic parable of the conflict between tradition and modernity in a mere eight days, and designed it as a showcase for matinee idol Okada, with whom he had already made THAT NIGHT'S WIFE and YOUNG MISS. Ozu would go on to observe again with irony the obstinacy of those who hold onto past traditions in the face of changing values, but the anarchic humor of THE LADY AND THE BEARD may be unrepeatable - a priceless gag (which narrowly escaped the attention of government censors) manages, mischievously, to conflate Abe Lincoln with the equally hirsute Karl Marx. The punchline: "All great men have beards!" Fri Oct 24: 1 & 6 TOKYO CHORUS / TOKYO NO KORASU 1931, silent; 90m (with live piano accompaniment) Few have made truer depictions of a young household - the spontaneous, daily interactions between neophyte parents and their often unpredictable kids - than Ozu accomplishes in this beautifully realized film. The performances of the child actors are exceptional, even by Ozu standards. The plot is an expert amalgam of various storylines from Komatsu Kitamura's Middle-Class Avenue (Shoshimin-gai), a popular collection of short stories revolving around common urbandwellers. When Okajima (THE LADY AND THE BEARD'S Tokihiko Okada, superb), an insurance man and fledgling parent, defies his boss by defending an unjustly dismissed colleague, he gets fired and joins the ranks of the unemployed. A chance encounter with a former schoolmaster, now the proprietor of a curry restaurant, leads to a temp job carrying billboards through the streets whereby Okajima must tame his pride. At once student comedy, salaryman film, and domestic drama, TOKYO CHORUS is quintessential early Ozu, with a classic, Lubitsch-like sequence of coworkers nervously trying to figure out each other's bonuses that rings uncomfortably true today. Fri Oct 24: 3:15 & 8 WHERE NOW ARE THE DREAMS OF YOUTH / SEISHUN NO YUME IMA IZUKO 1932, silent; 92m (with live piano accompaniment) Interrupted by a child actor's injury during the shoot of I WAS BORN, BUT, Ozu made this hybrid of the student comedy and the salaryman film. Four fellow graduates find their friendship tested when one of them, Horino, inherits his father's firm and offers the others employment. His buddies suddenly turning meekly deferential, Horino comes into particular conflict with the impoverished, cowardly Saiki, who happens to be in love with the same woman as him. For this stinging critique of class divisions, screenwriter Kogo Noda modeled his script on the German play Old Heidelberg, the story of a student prince in love with a bakery girl that also served as the basis of Ernst Lubitsch's The Student Prince. Sun Oct 26: 1 & 5 DRAGNET GIRL / HIJOSEN NO ONNA 1933, silent; 100m (with live piano accompaniment) Like WALK CHEERFULLY, Ozu's earlier gangster film, the exuberant DRAGNET GIRL is a stylish compendium of cleverly reworked Hollywood genre conventions. With great panache and technical virtuosity, Ozu dazzlingly appropriates the baroque flourishes and brooding atmospherics of such Sternbergian landmarks as Underworld and Blonde Venus, luxuriating in the fantasy of a Tinseltown-inspired dreamland where jazz is played non-stop, gangsters and molls haunt the pool halls, and Nipper, the RCA Victor Dog, is the presiding cultural icon. Once again, a gangster, now a one-time champion boxer turned small-time ringleader, finds himself moodily torn between the affections of a vamp (Kinuyo Tanaka, cast against type in the

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The New York Film Festival Celebrating Ozu

Dietrich role) and an innocent maiden (a very adorable Sumiko Mizukubo). An eye-opener for those who know Ozu primarily through his postwar films, DRAGNET GIRL is among the most brazenly stylized of his silents, a neon-lit aggressively modern world filmed through mirror reflections and distorting panes of glass. Wed Oct 29: 2 & 6:30 FLOATING WEEDS / UKIKUSA 1959; 119m To fulfill a promise he had made to Kenji Mizoguchi, Ozu took leave from Shochiku for this Daiei production. Remaking his own 1934 film, STORY OF FLOATING WEEDS, Ozu changed the setting to a seaside town and exploited the palette of Mizoguchi's regular cinematographer, Kazuo Miyagawa, for some of the most gorgeous images in his color work. The story remains largely the same as before: when the head of an itinerant troupe (Ganjiro Nakamura) visits the small town where he fathered a son years before, his mistress (Machiko Kyo) attempts to bring about a confrontation with his former lover and now adult son. Avoiding historical reconstruction in his attempt to evoke the spirit of the Meiji era, Ozu unfolds his tale in an anachronistic, vaguely contemporary setting, suffused with nostalgia for a long-lost world. FLOATING WEEDS features an outstanding lead performance by celebrated kabuki actor Nakamura, and is Ozu's sole collaboration with the stunning Machiko Kyo, by then world famous and the veteran of such works as Mizoguchi's Ugetsu, Kon Ichikawa's Odd Obsession, and Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon. Wed Oct 29: 4 & 8:30 PASSING FANCY / DEKIGOKORO 1933, silent; 100m (with live piano accompaniment) Ozu grew up in Fukagawa, one of Tokyo's downtown districts strongly imbued with the lively, neighborhood spirit of the Edo era, and the brash, earthy types he remembered from his childhood inspired his series of Kihachi films, so-named for the recurring, central persona embodied by actor Takeshi Sakamoto. The Kihachi introduced in PASSING FANCY and seen again in A STORY OF FLOATING WEEDS and AN INN IN TOKYO is Ozu's proletarian Everyman; the precise qualities of Kihachi may vary from film to film, but the character's happy-go-lucky nature and stubborn sense of honor remain constant. Like so many Ozu films the story of a parent and a child, PASSING FANCY depicts the comic relationship between dim-witted day laborer Kihachi and his spirited young son Tomio (Tokkan Kozo). (Critic Tadao Sato has noted the film's resemblance to King Vidor's The Champ.) Fatherly love is put to the test when Kihachi's drunken behavior and infatuation with a young girl prompt his son to protest. Introducing an element of communal goodwill into his affectionate, humane vision of downtown, Ozu has friendly neighbors rallying to help when, in the central crisis of the film, little Tomio falls deathly ill. Thurs Oct 30: 1:30 & 6:15 A MOTHER SHOULD BE LOVED / HAHA O KOWAZU YA 1934, silent; 93m (with live piano accompaniment) After her husband dies of a heart attack, widowed Chieko selflessly devotes herself to the raising of son Kosaku and stepson Sadao. Her unconscious refusal to deal with Sadao as strictly as her own son causes resentment in both. When, as a college student, Sadao finally uncovers the secret of his parentage, he tries to quit the family and live on his own. Originally planning to make a film about the decline of a wealthy family, Ozu instead delivered this characteristic, moving ode to selfless motherhood. The first and last reels of the film - a prologue depicting life with the father and an epilogue bringing about a family reconciliation - are missing. The anniversary print fills in the lacunae with summaries from Tadao Ikeda's screenplay. Sat Nov 1: 4:15 & 8:30 THE END OF SUMMER / KOHAYAGAWA-KE NO AKI 1961; 103m An epic saga revolving around the decline of a bourgeois family, THE END OF SUMMER tells the story of the Kohayakawas. Neglecting the family sake business that's fast running out of steam, aging patriarch Manbei busies himself philandering with a former mistress. His actions cause the resentment of his daughters, but when he suffers a heart attack, the family rallies to his side. Ganjiro Nakamura gives a lively, raucous performance as the untamable Mambei, a pater familias gone AWOL into regressive, adolescent

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The New York Film Festival Celebrating Ozu

behavior. As with his two other films not made for Shochiku, Ozu shoots outside Tokyo, this time in the Kansai region, where he divides the film's geography between the contrasting cities of Osaka and Kyoto, the one sparklingly modern, the other a sacred repository of tradition. Sat Nov 1: 6:15; Sun Nov 2: 3:30; Tue Nov 4: 1 A STORY OF FLOATING WEEDS / UKIKUSA MONOGATARI 1934, silent; 86m (with live piano accompaniment) One of Ozu's favorites of his silents that he later remade in sound and color, STORY OF FLOATING WEEDS was itself a reworking of George Fitzmaurice's The Barker (1928). Ozu reintroduces his proletarian Everyman, Kihachi (Takeshi Sakamoto), this time the head of an itinerant acting troupe visiting a small town where he fathered a son with the local caf owner years before. Kihachi endeavors to hide his identity from his now college-educated son lest his lowly status shame him. But his jealous mistress has other ideas in mind: bribing a young actress from the troupe to seduce the son, she schemes to bring about a confrontation. In the meantime, the troupe struggles to survive in a season of heavy rains and low attendance. With its rural village setting and entirely kimono-clad cast, STORY OF FLOATING WEEDS represents a departure for Ozu the urban filmmaker, for once entirely removed from the rhythms and textures of city life and setting his sights on poeticizing life in the countryside. The result is one of his most intensely atmospheric and sheerly beautiful films. Sun Nov 2: 1:30 & 5:35 AN INN IN TOKYO / TOKYO NO YADO 1935; 80m The grimmest of Ozu's Kihachi films, AN INN IN TOKYO reflects the post-Depression reality of '30s Japan with a sensitive, sympathetic portrayal of the down-and-out that prefigures the neorealism of a De Sica. Under a harsh, unforgiving sun, widower Kihachi (Takeshi Sakamoto) wanders looking for work in the parched, industrial flatlands of Koto with his two young sons. After a brief stint trying to earn food by turning in stray dogs to the police, the family looks forward to better times when Kihachi finds work at a factory. Yet when the daughter of a kind woman they meet falls ill, Kihachi contemplates theft in order to save her life. Although Shochiku was already producing talkies at the time of AN INN IN TOKYO, Ozu persisted in making a silent film owing to a promise he had made to his cinematographer, Hideo Mohara, who was perfecting his own sound system. As a compromise, Shochiku inserted sound effects and music, including a few original songs. The absence of spoken dialogue must have made Ozu concentrate doubly on the visuals: the atmospheric cinematography has a near-tactile quality that renders the many scenes played out in scorching summer heat oppressively visceral. Mon Nov 3: 2 & 6:30; Tue Nov 4: 3:15 TOKYO-GA Wim Wenders, 1985; 92m "If there was still such things as sacred objects in our century... if there was something like a sacred treasure of the cinema, then for me that would have to be the work of the Japanese director, Yasujiro Ozu." Wim Wenders In his filmed diary, Wenders pays homage to his mentor in a personal, contemplative, and moving film, revealing his own impressions of Ozu and of Tokyo (contrasting drastically with those of Ozu's Tokyo), in addition to interviewing Ozu's cameraman, Yuharu Atsuta, and the celebrated Japanese actor Chishu Ryu. Wenders's Tokyo Story consciously alludes to Ozu's film of the same name, which he cites at the beginning and end of this work. Tue Nov 4: 9; Wed Nov 5: 1 about the series | film descriptions and times | 2003 nyff home page

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