Eclipse Series 3: Late Ozu

Discuss DVDs released in the Eclipse and Essential Art House lines and the films on them.
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The Elegant Dandy Fop
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#201 Post by The Elegant Dandy Fop » Fri Aug 10, 2007 7:56 pm

Michael Kerpan wrote:Ozu wouldn't have been caught dead using Eastmancolor (or his own domestic Fujicolor). And he didn't care for earlier versions of Agfacolor. It was only when Agfacolor finally offered a color film he truly liked -- in the late 50s -- that he agreed to switch to color. (Richie talks about Ozu and Agfacolor in his book on Ozu).
Thanks a lot, really appreciate it.

I'm assuming it's the same color process for The Story of Floating Weeds too, right? Do you know why he switched to Technicolor for Good Morning?

I've been trying to use Google, but it redirects me to IMDb, which I can't trust on older films.

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Michael Kerpan
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#202 Post by Michael Kerpan » Fri Aug 10, 2007 8:21 pm

The Elegant Dandy Fop wrote:I'm assuming it's the same color process for The Story of Floating Weeds too, right? Do you know why he switched to Technicolor for Good Morning?
He didn't. The Criterion DVD just mistakenly makes the film LOOK like it was shot in Technicolor. None of the other versions look like this. An Italian site gets this right.

Click here for more information on early Japanese color film usage (and confirmation of Ozu's use of only Agfacolor).

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#203 Post by funkcisco » Thu Oct 04, 2007 5:10 am

In Tokyo Twilight, what did Akiko got arrested for? Did the cop think she was an prostitute or what?

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Michael Kerpan
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#204 Post by Michael Kerpan » Thu Oct 04, 2007 9:03 am

funkcisco wrote:In Tokyo Twilight, what did Akiko got arrested for? Did the cop think she was an prostitute or what?
I think more likely "protective custody" due to violation of (unofficial) curfew (for an obviously non-criminal but distraught well-to-do young woman.

The policeman may have initially thought she _might_ be a prostitute -- but by the time he took her to the station they were mostly being paternalistic. Trying to put the "fear of God" into her -- and cause her to behave in a more prudent and lady-like manner in the future....

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ltfontaine
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#205 Post by ltfontaine » Thu Oct 04, 2007 1:01 pm

Yeah, it's as though she's suspected of being susceptible to vaguely delinquent tendencies. Like Judy in the roughly contemporaneous Rebel Without a Cause, she ends up in the cop shop for being out of place and out too late. And for being unhappy in public, I guess.

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GringoTex
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#206 Post by GringoTex » Fri Nov 09, 2007 8:27 am

Just watched Tokyo Twilight. This is Ozu's film noir. It contains what may be the most shocking instance of screen violence I've ever seen. Absolute masterpiece.

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justeleblanc
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#207 Post by justeleblanc » Fri Nov 09, 2007 9:24 am

GringoTex wrote:Just watched Tokyo Twilight. This is Ozu's film noir. It contains what may be the most shocking instance of screen violence I've ever seen. Absolute masterpiece.
Agreed, this was my favorite of the box.

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Michael Kerpan
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#208 Post by Michael Kerpan » Mon Nov 12, 2007 2:15 pm

justeleblanc wrote:
GringoTex wrote:Just watched Tokyo Twilight. This is Ozu's film noir. It contains what may be the most shocking instance of screen violence I've ever seen. Absolute masterpiece.
Agreed, this was my favorite of the box.
This and Munekata Sisters constituted my first online purchase from France. Since I did not then have a VCR that could play SECAM videos, I couldn't even watch these until I found someone who had a converting VCR (and could make me n NTSC version). While Munekata Sisters proved to be a (comparative) stinker, it was love at first sight for Crépuscule à Tokyo. ;~}

In all the formats I've encountered this in since then, it has consistently held a spot in my Ozu top 5. In the next day or so a friend (with, sadly, a dissenting opinion) and I should begin a debate of sorts on the Classic Film forum over on IMDB.

BTW -- Ozu actually anticipated noir (to a considerable extent) back in the 30s -- especially in "Woman of Tokyo" and "Dragnet Girl".

Tokyo Twilight debate (argument) going on at IMDb boards.

Mind you -- my opponent in this and I rarely disagree too strenuously. So we are trying to keep things as good-natured as possible -- despite "full and frank" discussion (as diplomats call it). ;~}

MEK

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#209 Post by TheRanchHand » Thu Nov 15, 2007 2:09 am

Just watched Equinox last night and was really taken by it. It certainly ranks up there for me with Tokyo Story and Late Spring. It is always interesting for me to be so hypnotized by these films made years before I was born and in a country I have never been. But, that is a testament to him as a filmmaker.

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HerrSchreck
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#210 Post by HerrSchreck » Thu Nov 15, 2007 2:40 am

Is it that exceptional for you to slip into a time and place not of your own? I'm not jabbing at you, mind you, but in a forum fixated so strongly upon the alleged joys of The Great Old Foreign Film, I'm just interested.

I probably sound like I'm needling you, but I don't mean it that way..

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#211 Post by TheRanchHand » Thu Nov 15, 2007 3:46 pm

No offense. Maybe you are right and that is not so much a surprise. I was approaching from the point of view that nostalgia can play a big role in a movie watching experience, seeing something that taps into a fond memory. But, maybe the idea of being exposed to a more "fantasy" place can have its own role in the appeal.

Strangely enough, as much as I have fallen in love with foreign films over the past 6 years or so, I still find myself drifting off to sleep through many of them (Bergman, Ozu, Antonioni). Now, I grant you I usually watch films late at night (between 11pm and 1am) but find it interesting as I love these films so much but they sometimes require a couple viewings for that reason. And I don't find them boring by any means (though I know most people I know would) it is just there is this strange lulling that overtakes me when I watch them.

But with Equinox Flower the other night I went straight through from beginning to end....

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HerrSchreck
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#212 Post by HerrSchreck » Thu Nov 15, 2007 5:26 pm

That "lulling", and what triggers it from person to person, is probably subject to infinite varieties but when a film bleeds out from the screen and, in the case of home viewing, causes the whole room to take on a new, dreamy, maybe a bit dreary-- but very relaxing-- atmosphere, then I've got a new candidate for addictive nightlights reportoire. It's a very pleasant phenom... most recently Muzhi Yuan's very early talkie STREET ANGEL (1935) has been doing it for me. Many of these films from Shanghai's golden age need to be tapped into, not to mention brought out in decent transfers in R1. I just recently realized that the SFSFF put out a glorious couple of Ruan Ling-yu films including THE GODDESS (with NTSC one one side and PAL on the other side of a flipper disc).

Anyhow, back OT, and LATE OZU. (and thanks for your honest reply RanchHand).

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#213 Post by Michael Kerpan » Thu Nov 15, 2007 8:51 pm

The "Ruan Lingyu book with Goddess DVD" set can be ordered in the US from the University of Washington Press. People in other countries can check the Hong Kong University Press website.

Excellent set -- and a absolutely stunning film (just watched this new version a couple of days ago). Although the director of Goddess (Wu Yonggang) made this right after coming back from Hollywood, the film is the most like Japanese films of the era that I have seen from China in this hour.

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HerrSchreck
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#214 Post by HerrSchreck » Thu Nov 15, 2007 9:00 pm

I know we've veered a bit OT here, but just to call it to your attention Mike, I always thought the real source on this release was The San Fran Silent FilFest, which also offers Ling-Yu's THE PEACH GIRL, along with a few other Shanghai related products.

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Michael Kerpan
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#215 Post by Michael Kerpan » Thu Nov 15, 2007 10:44 pm

HerrSchreck wrote:I know we've veered a bit OT here, but just to call it to your attention Mike, I always thought the real source on this release was The San Fran Silent FilFest, which also offers Ling-Yu's THE PEACH GIRL, along with a few other Shanghai related products.
What I'm holding in my hands (right now) is a box set published by Hong Kong University Press. The book is by Richard Meyer (published in 2005) and the DVD also has a featurette by him. The score is by Richard Purrone. And Ball State University (Muncie, Indiana) helped provide funding (etc.). It looks like the SFSFF simply resells this. The price is the same from both SFSFF and the University of Washington Press -- $27.95. Really a bargain.

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#216 Post by sidehacker » Thu Dec 06, 2007 12:46 pm

After watching all of the films in the boxset, along with An Autumn Afternoon, I gotta ask: does anyone else see a significant change from Ozu's earlier work to this? I mean this is in the best possible way too. Almost all of the films in this boxset are over two hours long and never was I not completely absorbed in them. Yet, I find myself struggling in comparison to Ozu's films from the 40s, which don't get me wrong, are certainly good. It's just that there is something intangible about his work after Tokyo Story. All of the films in this boxset, save for Tokyo Twilight (which is pretty good but tries too hard to find a conventional narrative, a few melodramatic flourishes here and there as well) he gives off a more relaxing mood rather than a rigorous one. I suppose this could be contributed by his material, during his later years he seems more fixated on photographing drunk people singing - something he's masterful at, by the way.

Really, I just wanted to know where I should go from this point. Along with the above mentioned films, I've also seen Late Spring, Tokyo Story, Record of a Tenenment Gentlemen, A Hen in the Wind, A Story of Floating Weeds, Floating Weeds and Early Summer. Late Autumn and An Autumn Afternoon are easily my favorites.

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#217 Post by Michael Kerpan » Thu Dec 06, 2007 1:02 pm

sidehacker wrote:Really, I just wanted to know where I should go from this point. Along with the above mentioned films, I've also seen Late Spring, Tokyo Story, Record of a Tenenment Gentlemen, A Hen in the Wind, A Story of Floating Weeds, Floating Weeds and Early Summer. Late Autumn and An Autumn Afternoon are easily my favorites.
Assuming you can play R3 DVDs, you can begin sampling Ozu's early films (subtitled Panorama DVDs from HK are available at Yesasia.com and elsewhere online). If you can't play R3 DVDs, you'll just have to wait until more becomes available (or buy an all-region DVD player).

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#218 Post by sidehacker » Thu Dec 06, 2007 1:05 pm

I can and do.

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Michael Kerpan
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#219 Post by Michael Kerpan » Thu Dec 06, 2007 1:46 pm

Some recs for early Ozu now posted in a spot that won't cause people to yell at us for discussing them in this Late Ozu thread.

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#220 Post by jojo » Thu Jun 05, 2008 3:12 pm

This is the only Eclipse set I've willingly bought so far (The Flamenco Trilogy was a blind buy because I wanted to burn some money on something unknown), and that's solely on the strength of Ozu's ability to magnetize me.

Having briefly went through this thread, I can certainly understand some of the complaints that Ozu pretty much recycles the same themes over and over. But for me-- as Glen Kenny said, and I'm paraphrasing: "Ozu's oeuvre is like a deep forest--they're as different and as alike as trees, and it's always great to have more to explore."

Also keep in mind that Ozu was a studio director, much like Hitchcock. While Hitch spent his time pleasing studios by making thrillers over and over, Ozu spent his time making successful "women's pictures" as they might be called in his time. So a sort of "sameness" can be expected given the type of work he was contracted to do.

As for the transfers/image quality, I'm not a big expert on technicalities like that, but I can definitely say that I feel satisfied with them overall. Agree with most that Equinox Flower seems to be in the worst shape of the collection, but it wasn't bad enough to diminish my enjoyment of it.

My ranking:

1. Equinox Flower
2. Early Spring
3. Tokyo Twilight
4. End of Summer
5. Late Autumn

Agree with most that Tokyo Twilight is the most interesting picture in this set, but I have reservations about how the melodramatic elements mix with Ozu's post-war style. Definitely warrants future re-viewings, though.

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#221 Post by TheRanchHand » Fri Jun 13, 2008 2:18 am

I just finished watching Late Autumn and really enjoyed it. I felt it kept my attention and stayed well within the usual interplay of Ozu's themes. I have been watching everything so spread out I have not really been comparing them, but this one was special (I was a big fan of Late Spring).

I have the last to watch yet and then will jump into the silents....

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#222 Post by movielocke » Fri Sep 12, 2008 4:29 am

Late Autumn was superb. I was also a bit surprised to see a slight undercurrent of homosexuality to the film, particularly with Ayako it seems that the 'betrayal' of Yukiko at becoming an accomplice in arranging a marriage (after Yukiko pledged she would hate it if Ayako marriage and it ended/harmed their friendship) was an important tipping point for her.

Also, having the mother being arranged into another marriage in order to compel the daughter to accept an arranged marriage seems even more effective than using the father in the same role in Late Spring. It sets up, imo, a much stronger and more powerful parallel between the two generations, and it seems to be a much more clearly damning indictment of the arranged marraige. Particularly powerful, to me, was that the mother--the older generation--that ultimately rejects the arrangement, breaks with tradition and asserts her independence. I think she says something along the lines of, "I don't want to go through with this again." The power of managing to escape the patriarchical mistreatment despite years of acquiesing to it was quite hopeful, imo, even though that hope is bitterly undercut by erasing the identity and independence of Ayako by dressing her up in such a traditional costume and makeup, transforming her from a person into a role--the wife.

I may even like this more than Late Spring, but I need to revisit that film first.

I do hope that Criterion releases a third Ozu eclipse set next spring, hopefully with four films. :) there are not enough of his films available in region 1!

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#223 Post by Michael Kerpan » Fri Sep 12, 2008 9:28 am

Another important difference from Late Spring -- the mother clearly wants the daughter to know the truth about the situation.

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#224 Post by movielocke » Wed Sep 17, 2008 2:28 am

very good point.

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#225 Post by jojo » Fri Sep 26, 2008 4:20 pm

movielocke wrote:Late Autumn was superb. I was also a bit surprised to see a slight undercurrent of homosexuality to the film, particularly with Ayako it seems that the 'betrayal' of Yukiko at becoming an accomplice in arranging a marriage (after Yukiko pledged she would hate it if Ayako marriage and it ended/harmed their friendship) was an important tipping point for her.

Also, having the mother being arranged into another marriage in order to compel the daughter to accept an arranged marriage seems even more effective than using the father in the same role in Late Spring. It sets up, imo, a much stronger and more powerful parallel between the two generations, and it seems to be a much more clearly damning indictment of the arranged marraige. Particularly powerful, to me, was that the mother--the older generation--that ultimately rejects the arrangement, breaks with tradition and asserts her independence. I think she says something along the lines of, "I don't want to go through with this again." The power of managing to escape the patriarchical mistreatment despite years of acquiesing to it was quite hopeful, imo, even though that hope is bitterly undercut by erasing the identity and independence of Ayako by dressing her up in such a traditional costume and makeup, transforming her from a person into a role--the wife.
It's interesting that all of the points that you focused on were solely the women in the film, and I do agree with what you've said. But you didn't think that perhaps the film spent a little too much time on the scheming of the old men? While I understand that they were the ones used to move the "plot" along, I felt that the "wussified old Japanese men prying into other people's affairs" message/subplot got rather tired by the second reel.

Or maybe I say this because I these old men remind me so much of my own (very) annoying family/relatives who still act like this? :lol:

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