• Tokyo Story

    Tokyo Story

    ★★★★★

    Kyoko Kagawa looking into the camera and saying "Isn't life disappointing?" while Setsuko Hara smiles bravely and replies "Yes, it is." ... might be one of the most poignant remarks in the history of cinema, but the profundity of that scene seems almost childish compared to the moments when Noriko bares the laments of her soul to her father-in-law in the following scene. Many westerners are tempted to view Noriko's words as false modesty, a well-meaning attempt to stay humble…

  • The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice

    The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice

    The titular final sequence is outstanding, of course, but Early Spring is Ozu's definitive marriage film, and as far as nieces going to visit Aunt and Uncle goes, I much prefer watching Michiko Kuwano boozing it up with geisha and falling in love with a bad math tutor in What Did The Lady Forget?

  • Tokyo Sweetheart

    Tokyo Sweetheart

    Just couldn't get into this one, but nice to know I've seen enough 1950s Japanese cinema to not be surprised when a film that otherwise isn't a musical ends with underwater singing and dancing at the bottom of Tokyo Bay.

  • Repast

    Repast

    ★★★★½

    Now this is the one Setsuko Hara - Mikio Naruse collaboration I really like. Setsuko's character Michiyo suffers and complains like all of Naruse's indulgent commiserations, but she actually has some fighting backbone and subversive spirit.

    One of Setsuko's finest performances.

  • Early Summer

    Early Summer

    ★★★★★

    Early Summer belongs to that very small group of films that are among the greatest movies ever made. Ozu finds so much comedy in the day-to-day lives of these ordinary people, and so much pathos in their temporal pain. While many reviewers want to compare Early Summer to Late Spring, either favorably or unfavorably, I think this is a completely different film thanks to the ensemble cast. Late Spring is an intimate Father-Daughter film that ends one way, but Early…

  • The Idiot

    The Idiot

    Setsuko Hara, Toshiro Mifune, Masayuki Mori, and Yoshiko Kuga surely must have been the greatest cast in Japanese history? And yet The Idiot is a melodramatic failure.

    Kurosawa filming ice skating with torches = great great great

    Kurosawa filming people talking in a room = bad bad bad

  • The Munekata Sisters

    The Munekata Sisters

    Pretty much said this with my first review, but The Munekata Sisters is style over substance. Good Ozu to have on in the background if you're half paying attention.

  • Late Spring

    Late Spring

    ★★★★★

    Late Spring belongs to that small category of films which are among the greatest movies ever made. All of Ozu's cinematic language comes together at last ... the bike ride on the beach, the train, the elision into ambiguity, the crowd of people funneling into a small space, empty mirrors, passageways, a woman with a wildly violent and eccentric smile saying the most brutal, incongruous things.

    Chishu Ryu gives the greatest father speech of all-time near the end of this…

  • The Blue Mountains: Part II

    The Blue Mountains: Part II

    Parts I and II together are almost great, but the ridiculous and stupid fight scene near the end drops this one into the " just good" category. Still, the school investigation scene goes on for like 30 minutes and amazingly never gets boring, the scene with Yoko Sugi and Ryo Ikebe sunbathing must have felt like a Roman Porno flick to 1949 Japanese audiences, and the final bicycle ride and scene on the beach vibing to the famous Blue Mountains theme song make this a worthy two-night viewing.

  • The Blue Mountains: Part I

    The Blue Mountains: Part I

    The Blue Mountains was supposedly one of Kurosawa's favorite films, probably because Setsuko Hara shows a little nipple and then dances with a girl who falls down and puts her face in the actress's lap. What ... no? Actually it's a good if dated film about a city girl who goes into the country and teaches the locals how backwards they all are.

    Really liked Yoko Sugi in this one to be honest.

  • Here's to the Young Lady

    Here's to the Young Lady

    Cheers to the Young Lady is a romantic comedy with no chemistry between the leads. Setsuko Hara seems as disinterested in shacking up with a man as in any of her Ozu work, and Shuji Sano is clearly just showing up to earn his paycheck.

  • A Hen in the Wind

    A Hen in the Wind

    ★★★★½

    Underrated Ozu with an incredible performance from Kinuyo Tanaka. Shuji Sano is good too, if you've seen his other movies then you know he has so much range.

    A Hen in the Wind is more violent than most Ozu but I kinda like that ... as a rarity. The outdoor shots of Kinuyo Tanaka carrying her baby home and talking with her friend on the grassy hillside are further developed into transcendent filmmaking in Late Spring and Early Summer, respectively.…