Some of cinema's best—Lubitsch, Renoir, Bergman—were drawn to the life of a theater troupe, to the idea of living both freely and hand-to-mouth while staving off responsibility and routine. Planted in his world of strict tradition, Ozu makes this idea one of his most congenial, distinct late films, at times a pure farce before a tragedy. You can get quite an effect by getting the two genres to coexist.
(...)Ozu ist für mich der Japanischste aller Filmemacher. Er probierte sein Material immer und immer wieder, verfeinerte es, variierte es - immer behielt er dabei seinen eigenen Stil bei. Ganz so wie die alten Meister bildender Kunst in Japan. Neuland zu betreten war nichts für Ozu, wohl aber die immer wieder neue Gestaltung eines Themas. (...)
Ozu's films are sufficiently obscure for the stuck-up cinephile to use as leverage to reinforce his arguments about the fine quality of his work. Sorry, but they will never be as good as a Coppola or a Verhoeven lol. The 'family' argument is equally embarrassing. If you cared so much about family relations, you'd think you'd spend more time with your family instead of glorifying some dull-ass filmmaker. I'm out.
An acting troupe arrives in town but most of the drama is happening off the stage. Interesting this should pop up while I'm reading Emily St. John Mandel's 'Station Eleven', though this is the more understated of the two. Resplendent colours and gorgeous cinematography, though a little too long for its focus - a neglectful use of the supporting characters.
Every single shot, every single frame is perfect. With his distinct style, Ozu is able to capture the beauty and intimacy of life, and doing it with such laid back ease and patience that it seems natural and real. It's not really in the visuals or the story that gives it a feeling of life, but what bleeds through in the craft of it's delivery
Another color-period Ozu movie, but this time the story is actually a bit different from the usual marrying a daughter. It revolves around a troupe of wandering actors who stop in a small town, where the troupe leader has a son who's been raised to think he's his uncle. Once again Ozu makes great use of colors and this one was actually pretty entertaining for Ozu standards.
The japanese culture depicted in this film is too alien for me. I have no way of evaluating the credibility of their actions. Watching these buffoons stare at me while they deliver their lines heavy-handedly wasn't the cinematic revelation I was hoping it to be (even though I was watching a good print of it on the silver screen). Ozu's idiosyncratic style didn't help either. I'll go back to Imamura.
For an Ozu first timer it's hard to immediately warm to his style, while the compositions are purposefully crafted and tale earnest the pondering pace is hard to keep with. Undoubtedly Ozu stands out as an auteur and seems to be a slow burner before you really fall for him, the slightly hammy, dated melodrama don't aid the cause. Nevertheless the fllm is a tender tale with real keen eye for the struggles of life.
With its saturated colour, westernised score and engaging humour, this might seem a more commercial prospect than some of Ozu's earlier films. Yet as the drama develops, the same themes of love, aspiration and the pathos of familial bonds and betrayal become apparent. It is also, alongside 'Fanny and Alexander' and 'Les Enfants du Paradis', one of cinema's great homages to fading traditions of theatre.