In honor of his centenary, Shochiku (the studio for which Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu made almost all of his films) has made Ozu's filmsincluding many of his silent filmsavailable to North American audiences. The Archive, in conjunction with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, is proud to bring this retrospective to Los Angeles.
UCLA Film and Television Archive presents
Thursday, November 4 Saturday, December 11
The Wests canon of classic Japanese cinema is made up largely of the work of three giants: Kurosawa, Mizoguchi and Ozu. While the films of Kurosawa (considered the most Western of the three) are regularly revived in Los Angeles, the films of Yasujiro Ozu (1903-1963) have been almost impossible to see on local screens in recent years. In honor of his centenary, Shochiku (the studio for which Ozu made almost all of his films) has made Ozus films available to North American audiences, and the Archive, in conjunction with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, is proud to bring this retrospective to Los Angeles.
Ozu first became known outside of Japan late in his career, with his remarkable melodramas outlining the disintegration of the family in postwar Japan. With their almost motionless camera and straight-cut editing, these films have influenced directors from Jim Jarmusch and Wim Wenders to Hou Hsiao-hsien and Abbas Kiarostami. (In fact, the latest films from these last two directors are explicit homages to Ozu.) Ozus postwar films have earned him a reputation as the most Japanese of the big three Japanese filmmakers. However, Ozus prewar work has garnered more attention in recent years, and these films are anything but transcendental in style. In fact, with their gangsters and femmes fatales, their use of dramatic lighting and camera movement, they reveal an Ozu enamored of genre and of Hollywood. (He once claimed that Lubitsch was his favorite director, but the influence of von Sternbergs drama and Harold Lloyds deadpan comedy are visible as well.)
Together, the screenings at the Archive and LACMA display the range of Ozus genius, from rollicking farce to heartbreaking subtlety. The Archives screenings include several gems from his prewar period, including the uproarious I WAS BORN, BUT and the remarkable, Sternberg-inspired gangster film DRAGNET GIRL. We open with LATE SPRING, the masterpiece that many (including Ozu fans Claire Denis, Hou and Wenders) count among the filmmakers finest. And we close with the sublime AN AUTUMN AFTERNOON.
*All films in this series are presented in Japanese with English subtitles.
Saturday, November 6
I WAS BORN, BUT
(Umarete wa mita keredo)
Generally considered Ozus first major film, I WAS BORN, BUT is not so much a childrens film as a film about childhood (and its antagonistic relationship with the adult world). When Yoshi (Tatsuo Saito) moves into his bosss neighborhood, his two young sons find themselves mercilessly bullied. Claiming inspiration from their father, they fight back only to be shocked one day when they observe their fathers obsequious manner in front of his boss. Determined to rid him of his self-demeaning ways, the boys embark on a hunger strike. Ozus 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 with sound and color as GOOD MORNING.
Shochiku. Scenarist: Akira Fushimi. Story: James Maki. Cinematographer: Hideo Mohara. Editor: H. Mohara. With: Tatsuo Saito, Mitsuko Yoshikawa, Hideo Sugawara, Kozo Tokkan. 35mm, silent, 91 min.
The brash, earthy types Ozu remembered from his Tokyo childhood inspired his series of Kihachi films, so-named for the recurring, central persona embodied by actor Takeshi Sakamoto. Kihachi is Ozus proletarian Everyman; the precise qualities of Kihachi may vary from film to film, but the characters 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 (critic Tadao Sato has noted the films resemblance to King Vidor's THE CHAMP) depicts the comic relationship between dim-witted day laborer Kihachi and his spirited young son Tomio (Tokkan Kozo). Fatherly love is put to the test when Kihachis infatuation with a young girl and his drunken behavior prompt his son to protest.
Shochiku. Story: James Maki. Cinematographer: Shojiro Sugimoto. Editor: Kazuo Ishikawa. With: Takeshi Sakamoto, Nobuko Fushimi, Den Ohikata, Choko Iida. 35mm, silent, 103 min.
*Live musical accompaniment provided by Michael Mortilla
Sunday, November 14
(Hogaraka ni ayume)
Opening with a bravura tracking shot that only hints at the virtuoso filmmaking to follow, Ozus 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 is also full of trademark Ozu themes, motifs and devices, including his famous tatami shot, with the camera placed at the level of a person sitting on a tatami mat.
Shochiku. Scenarist: Tadao Ikeda. Story: Hiroshi Shimizu. Cinematographer: Hideo Mohara. Editor: H. Mohara. With: Minoru Takada, Hiroku Kawasaki, Nobuku Matxuzono, Utako Suzuki. 35mm, silent, 96 min.
(Hijosen no onna)
In his spectacularly delirious DRAGNET GIRL, Ozu appropriates the baroque flourishes and brooding atmospherics of such Sternberg landmarks as UNDERWORLD and BLONDE VENUS, luxuriating in the fantasy of a Tinseltown-inspired dreamland where jazz is played nonstop, gangsters and molls haunt the pool halls, and Nipper, the RCA Victor Dog, is the presiding cultural icon. Once again, a gangsterhere a one-time champion boxer turned small-time ringleaderfinds himself torn between the affections of a vamp (Kinuyo Tanaka, cast against type in the 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.
Shochiku. Scenarist: Tadao Ikeda. Story: James Maki. Cinematographer: Hideo Mohara. Editor: Kazuo Ishikawa. With: Kinuyo Tanaka, Joji Oka, Sumiko Mizukubo, Hideo Mitsui. 35mm, silent, 100 min.
*Live musical accompaniment provided by Michael Mortilla
Wednesday, November 17
A family drama set in Kamakura, the leisurely, poignant EARLY SUMMER ends, as so many Ozu films do, in tears. The Mamiya family takes up the challenge of finding a husband for eldest daughter Noriko, a happily unmarried working girl. Her boss suggests a middle-aged businessman as a suitable prospect, but when Noriko impulsively accepts another proposal, the family begins to disintegrate. Consistently ranked (with LATE SPRING and TOKYO STORY) as among the best of Ozus postwar films, EARLY SUMMER is perhaps the most freely structured of the three in its elliptical, enigmatic narrative. The film's original Japanese title, Wheat Harvest Season, refers to the haunting final shots of a wheat field in harvest, a reminder from war veteran Ozu that Shoji, the Mamiyas' missing son, was a casualty of that disastrous conflict.
Shochiku. Screenwriters: Kogo Noda, Yasujiro Ozu. Cinematographer: Yuharu Atsuta. Editor: Yoshiyasu Hamamura. With: Setsuko Hara, Chishu Ryu, Chikage Awajima, Kuniko Miyake. 35mm, 124 min.
Sunday, November 21
WOMAN OF TOKYO
(Tokyo no onna)
A quickie, both in that it was made in eight days and that it lasts only 47 minutes, this Depression melodrama tells the story of a young woman who, to put her younger brother through college, works two jobs: translator by day, prostitute by night. When the boy finds out about his sisters night job, tragedy ensues. While reminiscent of the social realism of Mizoguchi, WOMAN OF TOKYO also nods to comedy in a clip from Ozus favorite Hollywood director, Ernst Lubitsch. After its premiere revival in New York, J. Hoberman enthused about the films subtle riot of discordant formal devices. The eye-line matches are as weird as the spatial jumps are bizarre...The crucial scene is dominated by a giant close-up of a teapot Ozu never made another film like this one, and neither has anyone else.
Shochiku. Screenwriters: Kogo Noda, Tadao Ikeda. Based on the story Twenty-six Hours by Ernest Schwartz. Cinematographer: Hideo Mohara. Editor: Ishikawa Kazuo. With: Yoshiko Okada, Ureo Egawa, Kinuyo Tanaka, Shinyo Nara. 35mm, silent, 47 min.
*Live musical accompaniment by Michael Mortilla
All UCLA programs screen at the James Bridges Theater in Melnitz Hall, located on the northeast corner of the UCLA
Westwood campus, near the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Hilgard Avenue.
Advance tickets for all films screening at UCLA are available for $8 at www.cinema.ucla.edu <http://www.cinema.ucla.edu>
Tickets are also available at the theater one hour before showtime: $7 general admission; $5 students, seniors and UCLA Alumni Association members with ID.
Parking is available adjacent to the James Bridges Theater in Lot 3 for $7; there is free parking on Loring Ave. after 6:00 p.m. on weekdays and all day
Los Angeles County Museum of Art presents
YASUJIRO OZU: THE CENTENNIAL RETROSPECTIVE
Friday, November 19
Tokyo Chorus (1931/b&w/90 min./silent) scr: Kôgo Noda; dir: Yasujiro Ozu; w/Tokihiko Okada.
Live musical accompaniment
That Nights Wife (1930/b&w/67 min./silent) dir: Ozu w/Tokihiko Okada, Togo Yamamoto, Emiko Yakumo, Tatsuo Saito
Live musical accompaniment
INFO: 323.857.6010 / www.lacma.org
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