FilmSnob

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  1. I'm also starting a memorabilia list, one item I would love to have from each Essential Ozu film. For Walk Cheerfully, it would be this Clara Bow poster hanging up in Ken's apartment. The poster comes from Paramount's top 1927 Rom-Com, Rough House Rosie, starring Clara Bow. Cool picture, but I think the poster version looks even better. There's a game wheel or something with a bunch of college names on it in Student Romance: Days of Youth -- Stanford, Yale, Princeton, etc.-- that's the other item I would pick so far.
  2. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Schedule for Week #3: Movie of the Week: That Night's Wife (Ozu, 1930) Also: I Flunked, But ... (Ozu, 1930) ----------------------------------------------------------------------- That Night's Wife is a much more tense, suspenseful, proto-noir crime thriller. Looking forward to it!
  3. Movie of the Week #2: Walk Cheerfully (Ozu, 1930) Starring: Minoru Takada, Hiroko Kawasaki, Hisao Yoshitani, Satoko Date Story by: Hiroshi Shimizu, Tadao Ikeda Piano score: Neil Brand Silent, Black and White, 1 hour 35 minutes. Romantic Crime Drama (with lighthearted comedy) Kenji Koyama, a.k.a Ken the Knife, leads a small-time band of crooks and thugs in this highly stylized, romantic and unabashedly sentimental gangster film. The story crafted by Hiroshi Shimizu, a fellow director and Ozu's good friend, plays out as the very definition of a morality tale: the title was inspired by Quaker founder George Fox's famous quote: "Walk cheerfully over the world answering that of God in everyone, that your carriage and your life may preach among all sorts of peoples, and to them...whereby in them you may be a blessing, and make the witness of God in them to bless you." In other words, Ken has a crisis of conscience. He's a feared boxer who commands criminal respect through superior intellect and brute force. He and his gang find creative ways to rob people-- and if necessary-- beat them up. Eventually, he falls in love with one of his targets, a kind and beautiful "good" girl named Yasue, who is thought to be rich, but turns out her family doesn't have any money at all. They develop a romance, his girlfriend gets jealous, etc. but when Yasue finds out about Ken's life of crime, she refuses to see him again. Point blank. Can Ken "The Knife" escape his troubled past and become a changed man? Does he really want to? You'll have to watch the movie and find out. Personally, I loved this film. There will undoubtedly be critics who call it mindless, sentimental rubbish, or "not essential Ozu". It's a facsimile film made by a 26 year old man who was (at that age) infatuated with Western culture, particularly Hollywood American culture. The characters lack all but the most obvious depth. The world of the story is not realistic -- this is pure cinematic pastiche. Walk Cheerfully is not The Godfather. It's not a character study. There's a scene where Ken displays his intellectual superiority -- not by giving sage advice like "keep your friends close, but your enemies closer" -- but by simply telling everyone to calm down, he needs time to think. It's that basic sometimes, and yet it works. It's fun. The film never tries for more than it can handle. (Hiroko Kawasaki, Nobuko Matsuzono, and Minoru Takada in Walk Cheerfully) The acting performances range from serviceable to pretty good. Minoru Takada presents a likeable, believable Kenji the Knife, except for the parts where he's asked to show greater range, and then you can see him struggle. Hiroko Kawasaki makes a fine Yasue, the good girl he falls in love with. She was particularly impressive with her performance in this scene near the end of the film: More often than not, Ken's friend Hisao Yoshitani, playing Senko, steals the show. You can even call this a tearjerker buddy comedy at times. (Minoru Takada and Hisao Yoshitani in Walk Cheerfully) Altogether, Walk Cheerfully was a thoroughly likeable, enjoyable, kindhearted film. It's not an unqualified masterpiece like Tokyo Story or Late Spring, but it's been described as Ozu's most "fun" film and can be appreciated as much lighter fare. I definitely recommend watching this movie, and I'm adding it to the Essential Ozu list. Essential Ozu: Student Romance: Days of Youth (1929) Walk Cheerfully (1930) Check out these films and more Ozu sometime on Filmstruck if you have the chance!
  4. Sorry for the delay but I will have a review up for our movie of the week tomorrow. An Introduction to Marriage (Ozu, 1930) -- lost film Ozu's first film of 1930 was a festive New Year's comedy about a post-honeymoon married couple who start to get on each other's nerves. For the first time, Ozu worked with a star actress, Sumiko Kurishima. She was a top actress for Shochiku studio at that time. Ozu's thoughts: I tracked down a couple more stills from An Introduction to Marriage. Here they are below. (Upper right)
  5. Ozu made one last film in 1929, a short comedy, and it's our warm-up this week. A Straightforward Boy Two kidnappers kidnap a boy, but he turns out to be more than they can handle. After the kid terrorizes the men, they try to return him, only to get chased around by a band of children instead. Ozu's thoughts: Review: The synopsis sounds better than the actual portion of the film that survives. It turns out there are some missing sections. As is, I found A Straightforward Boy unfunny and uncomfortable to watch. OK, that was funny! That's the very beginning of the film, which did make me laugh because it was totally unexpected. I don't think I laughed any other time, though. One of the men creeps up on the boy in an alley, and then they make funny faces at each other as he attempts to lure the child into abduction. I didn't find any humor in these scenes at all, considering the circumstances. There's even a scene as they are walking through the city towards the kidnapper's house, where they are sitting on a bench, entirely too close to each other, playing with fake mustaches. Evidently A Straightforward Boy was a huge viral success in Japan, so much so that the child star Tomio Aoki became instantly famous and even changed his name to Tokkankozō, the Japanese title of the movie. It's funny because the kid appeared in other Ozu films after this, and he's listed as Tokkankozō in the credits. Nevertheless, I thought the setup for this movie was handled very poorly. The story really lacked any comedic frame of reference, such as abduction for child labor or ransom. The men just take the kid back to their house. Anything more creepy than that? I wasn't in any mood for laughs. Essential Ozu: I've decided to come up with an "Essential Ozu" list based on my reviews for all of these films. So far: Student Romance: Days of Youth (1929) -- despite its flaws, still enjoyable and has its charm If you're pressed for time, I would just watch that and skip everything else that I've watched so far. Days of Youth serves as a good baseline for Ozu's earliest works.
  6. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Schedule for Week #2: Movie of the Week: Walk Cheerfully (Ozu, 1930) Also: A Straightforward Boy (Ozu, 1929) -- this one is just a short ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Walk Cheerfully was the first of Ozu's early 1930s crime dramas and it's his second surviving feature film, heavily influenced by Josef von Sternberg's Underworld and The Docks of New York. Definitely worth watching if you're only familiar with the domestic dramas that Ozu directed later in his career. A Straightforward Boy isn't very long and it became a viral sensation in Japan. Both are available with English subtitles on Filmstruck or can be purchased on DVD. Looking forward to it!
  7. The Life of an Office Worker (Ozu, 1929) -- lost film A salaryman looks forward to receiving a year-end bonus for his family, but instead he gets fired because of the Great Depression. He looks for a job, but fails to find one. Eventually, he gets hired by his friends. This film was not too dissimilar from I Graduated, But ... The Great Depression affected Japan before the stock market crash on Wall St. Only 40% of recent college graduates could find employment in Japan in 1929. Ozu's thoughts: Zhang Yimou is a director who used the dissolve brilliantly. I'm thinking of the nice editing sequence at the end of Raise the Red Lantern, where all of the lanterns, both real and imagined, circle around Songlian as the walls close in around her. Maybe my favorite editing sequence that I've ever seen. What would Ozu would have thought?
  8. I've been inserting images into my posts for reviews and artwork, but the last time I did this I was told the file size had to be smaller than 400-something KB. I resized the images to get under the limit, but now I tried to post again and was told the limit was trivially small this time, leaving me unable to include images in my posts. Help?
  9. By the way I admit to being a shallow person. I always admired Hedy Lamarr for her beauty, not her brains. She was the first woman I ever watched in a movie when I was a teenager and thought, wow this woman must be super old or dead by now but holy smokes she was hot back in the day.
  10. It was my understanding that she had a minor role in the development of the technology, suggesting a music-related pattern. She was probably smart enough to understand everything and had a minor part, but not the inventor or co-inventor...although I could hardly say that's more than second or third-hand information. It would be lovely if such a beautiful and talented actress were indeed a genius, although looks and fame do tend to have a negative impact on one's intellectual abilities, the person who can rise above and overcome those limitations being the exception rather than the rule. Regardless, even a minor role in such a historical event would be an amazing one.
  11. This is the shot sequence I had a problem with in I Graduated, But... The husband decides he must take a job, one way or another. He gets up early the next morning, and the wife sees him off during a driving rainstorm. Most of the (edited down) film is framed well and nice to look at, and the beginning of this particular scene is no exception. Notice the lighting contrast between the couple and their home, everything the husband will leave on the left, and the dark right side of the screen. Again, look how dark the background is behind the wife. The husband will exit the scene in that direction. Their future is uncertain. The wife turns and watches as her husband walks off into the dark. And then this was the very next shot that I really don't like... The position of the actress in the frame and the lighting all look wrong to me. It was only one shot in ten minutes, pretty good for early Ozu, but what do you think?
  12. FilmSnob

    I Just Watched...

    Clara was definitely the 'It' girl, but I thought the backside shot of her co-star looked more skin-tight and shapely to me. Interestingly enough, Clara makes several appearances in the Ozu movie Walk Cheerfully. Her poster from Rough House Rosie hangs on the main character's wall in his apartment, and features quite prominently in the mise-en-scene of some scenes.
  13. FilmSnob

    I Just Watched...

    I saw it on Halloween last year. It was well acted but not that scary, just shocking in how vulgar it was at times.
  14. FilmSnob

    Sexual Freedom

    Poor Clara
  15. FilmSnob

    Sexual Freedom

    I sometimes wish we could go back to the conservative old days of flapper girls in the 1920s.

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