Sunday, April 18, 2010

Floating Weeds

aka Ukigusa
Yasujiro Ozu, 1959, Japan (7.8*)

This is a beautifully filmed art film from master Japanese filmmaker Ozu, his first in color after a career of b&w masterpieces. His films are slow-moving yet carefully constructed visual set pieces that slowly reveal his characters motivations and emotions. Ozu has won many Japanese film awards, and the b&w film Tokyo Story is his best known, while Early Summer won the most awards.

In this story, a struggling traveling kabuki theater group (ie, the "weeds" of the title) arrives at a sleepy seaside village, a place they've been before, which revives old memories and relationships, including an important one for their leader Komanjuro. While most are simply trying to find local affairs, for Komanjuro, played by Ganjiro Nakamura, and a local woman, wonderfully played by understated Machiko Kyo, theirs is really a family reunion that involves a son they had together.

This is one of film critic Roger Ebert's favorite ten films, but is really more of an art house than a popular film, so it will please fans of Ozu and Japanese art cinema more than more general audiences, who will want more action and movement. That said, each scene here is carefully constructed visually with much emphasis on the importance of understated colors and compositional balance, something that Ozu excels at achieving.

Note: Ranked 1010 on our survey of net polls.. Tokyo Story is ranked 57th.. Late Spring next at 436.. Early Summer (aka Bakushu) won the most awards, is 978.. Depending on which list I check, I see Ozu is ranked 19th on one list with 7 films, but much lower on another with only 5 films.. hmmm..

The film's page at IMDB, the rating there is 7.9, practically the same as mine


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Artist, photographer, composer, author, blogger, metaphysician, herbalist

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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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