The next Masters of Japanese Cinema film will be Ozu Yasujiro’s wonderful 1951 film Early Summer. It screens at Pickford Film Center (1318 Bay Street) at 6:30pm on Tuesday, April 7th. Further details can be found here: http://www.pickfordfilmcenter.org/programs/pickford/early-summer/
Ozu probably doesn’t need much introduction (at least for readers of these emails), but it can be hard for the casual viewer to keep all the films straight, particularly for those with seasonal titles (Late Spring, Early Spring, Late Autumn, etc.). Complicating this is the fact that many of his postwar films deal with a similar story situation: the potential marriage of a daughter in the family. Each film plays out differently; it’s almost as if Ozu was conducting story experiments where he would change different variables from film to film to see what the results would be. Each film also presents us with different models for effects of choices around marriages and how marriages play out by presenting multiple options in the same film. Taken all together, these films make for one of the most remarkable bodies of work ever produced (and that’s not even counting all of Ozu’s other films).
More importantly, each film is engaging on its own terms. Early Summer is one of my favorites. It features many actors who appear repeatedly in Ozu’s postwar films: Hara Setsuko in the lead role, as well as Ryu Chishu, Sugimura Haruko, and Miyake Kuniko, among others. Hara and Sugimura are especially affecting here. This film has one of the richest portrayals of a family in Ozu’s work, with four generations represented. As with Ozu’s other films, characters are portrayed with considerable sympathy, but little sentimentality. There’s a great deal of gentle humor in the film, as well as a full sense of the significant implications of seemingly simple choices. Great film! I hope to see you all there.