‘What everybody notices first in Ozu is the visual form. He apparently decided at the very beginning of his filmmaking career to adopt his own cinematic language, an idiolect that is both conservative and radical.
‘It is conservative because the choices within his system are severely limited and because in some respects it is just a purification of the standard continuity system. Each scene follows the standard pattern: in, out, repeat if necessary. The scene begins with a long shot that establishes the characters, then moves into medium close-ups. If it is a lengthy scene, it will cut to the long establishing shot again and then back to the close-ups. At the end, it will return to the long shot.
‘The average shot length in his films adheres closely to the norms that prevailed in Japan and Hollywood, and Ozu keeps the duration of the shots within a film remarkably consistent: there are no long takes and very few noticeably quick shots. Most of the cuts are ‘return cuts’, to borrow Klaus Wyborny’s term – that is, they return to a shot already shown.
‘It has been written that Ozu pared down this system further by gradually eliminating camera movement, fades, and dissolves, but these figures appeared only exceptionally even in his first films. From this description an Ozu film might seem like a highly conventionalised TV series, such as Dragnet.
‘But he does everything wrong; he breaks every rule of conventional cinematic grammar. He always puts the camera too low, but he doesn’t angle it up, so the subject of the shot always occupies the top of the frame. The eye-line matches are always wrong.
‘A fundamental rule of standard continuity requires that the camera always stay on one side of an axis created by the actors’ gazes. Thus the camera may not be moved 180 degrees from one set-up to another; it must always stay within a semi-circle on one side of the axis.
‘Ozu doesn’t simply violate this rule, he overturns it: every cut crosses the axis of the gaze. Every cut is a multiple of 45 degrees, most often 180 degrees (especially when he cuts on an action match) or 90 degrees. The standard continuity system was developed to make cuts invisible, to the conscious mind at least. Ozu denaturalises the cuts, making them as noticeable as possible.
‘Then there are the shots of ‘empty spaces’: still lifes, unpeopled interiors, building facades and landscapes. They are Ozu’s trademark, the one part of his system that has been adapted by modern European and Asian filmmakers, and they have given his interpreters a great deal of trouble when they try to assign them a meaning.
‘In his essential book on Ozu, David Bordwell calls these empty spaces “intermediate” because these shots generally occur between scenes (although sometimes as cutaways within scenes). But they are not establishing shots, although some shots in a series may serve that function. They have an autonomy that led Noël Burch to call them extradiegetic, that is “on another plane of reality”, although they exist in the same space as the characters. Perhaps it suffices to define them simply by the absence of the characters and the suspension of the narrative.’ — Thom Andersen, Bfi
Aki Kaurismaki on Ozu
Claire Denis on Ozu
Wim Wenders on Ozu
Hou Hsiao-hsien on Ozu
Stanley Kwan on Ozu
OZU Yasujiro Story / 小津安二郎物語 #1
Video Footage of Yasujiro Ozu
Yasujirô Ozu – The Depth of Simplicity
Wes Anderson & Yasujiro Ozu: A Visual Essay
Visiting Ozu’s grave
Interview: Donald Richie on Ozu
from Midnight Eye
It is now about 50 years since Ozu’s heyday. What relevance do these films still have for today’s generation of viewers worldwide?
Well I think that the strongest appeal of Ozu is, certainly one of the things he was most concerned with, was character. The way he worked, the kind of films that he made – the major interest was people, how they react, how they don’t react. The way he made a film, for example, was that he and his fellow writer Kogo Noda would write the dialogue first, without even knowing who was going to say it. They wanted to create characters out of dialogue. Then they allocated the dialogue to the people who became the characters, and it was only later on that they decided the locations where this should happen. Usually most films are written the other way around: they get the settings and then they put the people in them and then they decide what’s going to be said. Ozu’s films are made completely backwards from that, so consequently there’s a rightness, there’s a logic, there’s an inevitability, there’s a reality about the character. The main thing we feel when we watch an Ozu film for the first time is that we don’t want it to end. We don’t want to leave these people. I’ve heard this from people over and over again. So since this is a universal thing, and since it never gets old-fashioned, and is the same thing we desire and look for in all films, no matter how new or old they are, I think that this is the strongest point. I don’t think anyone in Japanese film could create character as well as Ozu does, and I think that through the characters the films remain alive.
In terms of the aesthetic then, there’s nothing intrinsically Japanese about how the films look…
Certainly not when they were made, no. He was very careful. He hated locations. He liked complete control. Everything was a set. He did it because he wanted control to that extent. I mean when you compare the Ozu script with the Ozu film, there’s no discrepancy. The script is a blueprint. Everything is already decided. There’s not any room for spontaneity, or anything like that. It is going to be done exactly like it was in the script. So consequently he needed it to look as realistic as possible. And so, 1954, ’55, ’56 are there, preserved on the screen exactly as they are, forever. However, we’re now in 2003, and there are no more interiors like that in Japan, and there are no more people who act like that in Japan. The youngsters don’t act like that anymore. So what we have in Ozu appreciation in this country is a retro appreciation, like appreciating Andy Hardy or Doris Day or something like that. Abroad, it still doesn’t look as exotic as it does to the Japanese. The kids know what it is because they’ve seen pictures, but where they live looks nothing like where the Ozu characters live. They don’t have the tatami anymore, they don’t have fusuma [paper doors]. Today these features of Japanese architecture are not included any more, and so we don’t have that severity. So they can look at an Ozu film as a trip to grandpa’s house.
You have labelled Ozu a “modernist”. One thing that struck me, in terms of modern Japan, the surface details such as the costumes and the iconography seem to have changed, but the internal dynamics of the family are still very consistent with what Ozu was doing …
Remember that when Ozu started making films in the 1920s, this was the time that Europe, and consequently Japan, was becoming interested in the possibilities of the new way of observing, which is much less fussy, much less Victorian, much less Edwardian, stripped down through the age of the century of progress, the new silver bullet train in Chicago, new techniques of air resistance in design. Everything was being streamed down. Art as well, with Art Deco. Art Deco is self-conscious about its own design in the way that Ozu’s films are. Ozu was very fond of Art Deco. If you look at the number of his sets, they are very Art Deco, very modernist in their design.
He didn’t know anything about mainstream modernism, by which I mean James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, all the other people who were doing modernist literature. He knew mainly through what he observed about what came in from Europe and America, the kind of modernism which you could see in Japanese cafés in Ginza.
There’s this idea of cutting down, of restriction, of making things coherent by making them less, an avoidance of any redundancy and this great ability to make the continuity without all the links, leaving the audience the option, or the necessity to do this. In most Ozu pictures, for example, the wedding is left out. This idea of leaving out these links and testing your audience to make the links with you, or build the bridge halfway to you, these are all attributes of modernism as a literary form. And so, for these reasons, plus a tremendous influence of European photography – that is still photography, or art photography – on Ozu who would use these still lives to make something like he’d already seen in photographic magazines, all of this gives a modernist tinge to everything he did. So there are two things; he’s a traditional artist and a traditional aesthetician, because he knew Japanese aesthetics. At the same time he was a real modernist. He used the modernist visual vocabulary, and would very often take the plots of American films. A lot of his best films take their inspiration from films he had seen.
A Website Dedicated to Ozu Yasujiro
Ozu Teapot blog
‘Ozu’s Angry Women’
‘Yasujiro Ozu: an artist of the unhurried world’
Ozu vs. Avatar: This really is what cinema has come down to
Roger Ebert’s ‘Silence is Golden to Ozu’
‘A Great Auteur: Yasujiro Ozu
Ozu @ The Criterion Collection
Ozu @ Senses of Cinema
Ozu @ Strictly Film School
Ozu @ mubi
Ozu @ The Jim Jarmusch Resource Page
Book: David Boardwell’s Ozu and the Poetics of Cinema
Video: ‘Ozu – Color “Pillow Shots”‘
Ozu’s Lost Films
‘The Films of Yasujiro Ozu’
‘A modest extravagance: Four looks at Ozu’
15 of Yasujirō Ozu’s 53 films
An Autumn Afternoon (1962)
‘Yasujiro Ozu’s last film, about a middle aged man who gives in to his friends’ urgings to marry off his daughter, has me making associations with, of all people, Howard Hawks. Not only is the theme of individual desire subjected to communal duty typical of both directors, but this film delights in the nuances of human interactions much in the way of Hawks’ late masterpiece RIO BRAVO; both films seem to treat narrative as an afterthought for the sake of exploring and celebrating the ritualized behavior that blossoms when old acquaintances come together. The virtues of Ozu’s artistry may not be appreciated by most people, and even by those who do have trouble explaining his significance. It remains one of the great mysteries of the movies that Ozu’s seemingly light, commercial entertainments can contain such an abundance of human experience, enhanced by an assiduously developed style that demands extended contemplation.’ — alsolikelife
Late Autumn (1960)
‘A trio of old buddies intervenes in the affairs of their old college crush, now a recent widow, and her daughter. The daughter won’t marry, afraid to leave her mother alone; the guys attempt to arrange a marriage between one of them and the mother, with near-disastrous results. Ozu’s attentiveness to the pleasure of small moments shared between good friends is at its peak of perfection — as in all his best films, one forgets that they’re following a story and is just “hanging out” with the people onscreen. However, there’s much more to this film than a matchmaking lark — the pleasure that the viewer gets as a fellow matchmaker conspiring among the men gives way to the quiet pain of mother and daughter as they face imminent separation, leading to an ending every bit as heartbreaking as that of LATE SPRING.’ — alsolikelife
Good Morning (1959)
‘The story, which at times feels incidental, centers around two boys who refuse to speak when their parents refuse to buy a television set. What appears at first to be a lightweight effort is actually a remarkable meditation on human communication in all its forms: the “good mornings” of the title, insidious gossip, fart jokes, hand signals and awkward romantic conversation all figure into the cavalcade of brilliantly rendered interactions between parents, children and nosy neighbors.’ — alsolikelife
Equinox Flower (1958)
‘Ozu’s first color feature, following the harsh, pessimistic black-and-white worlds of EARLY SPRING and TOKYO TWILIGHT, returns to the more whimsical disappointments of domestic life, and the use of color adds to the film’s soothing quality and delight in everyday details vibrantly observed, qualities that Ozu would continue to develop in his remaining color films. A father butts heads with his oldest daughter when she refuses to comply with his wish to arrange her marriage. Another quality to this film that Ozu would develop to better effect in his later works is a movement away from overt narrative — things happen in this film in a static, almost incidental manner, which seems to reflect the experience of the father, insisting on things being the same as always, and yet perceiving gradual shifts almost in spite of himself.’ — alsolikelife
Tokyo Twilight (1957)
‘A deeply, uncharacteristically dark film, even among other “dark” Ozu films (i.e. A HEN IN THE WIND, EARLY SPRING) that may require a theatrical setting for the viewer to be fully absorbed in the strange, dark textures of the world Ozu presents. I myself was pretty alienated for the first 1/2 hour or so until the wintry chill of the mise-en-scene (brilliantly suggested in the slightly hunched-over postures of the characters) found its way into me instead of keeping me at arm’s length. And from there this story builds in unwavering intensity as it follows a family on a slow slide into dissolution: a passive, judgmental patriarch (played by Chisyu Ryu, subverting his gently accepting persona in a way that is shocking), his elder daughter, a divorcee with a single child (Setsuko Hara, playing brilliantly against type — who’d have thought the sweetest lady in ’50s Japan had such an evil scowl?), and his younger daughter (Ineko Arima, a revelation), secretly pregnant and searching for her boyfriend, get a major shakeup when their absent mother, who the father had told them was long dead, re-enters their lives. A masterpiece, without question, one that throws all of Ozu’s depictions of modern society in a beautifully devastating new light.’ — alsolikelife
The entire film
Early Spring (1956)
‘Ozu’s longest feature is a tricky one to read, and quite possibly one of his best works. The running time would indicate some kind of epic statement being made, and Ozu is certainly aiming high by offering a comprehensive examination of how the corporate salaryman mentality has deeply affected the lives of ordinary Japanese people. The film, which centers around a frustrated salaryman, his failing marriage, his dalliance with a younger co-worker and his co-workers increasing concerns, is often solemn and staid but not humorless in the least; in fact I can think of few Ozu films that do a better job of capturing communal ritual in all its highs and lows, which the 2 1/2 hour running time accomodates splendidly. Typical of Ozu, the story moves in a ritualistic pattern through interactions between friends and family, in homes, offices, bars and group outings. There is the recurring instance of a group getting together to eat dinner, often breaking out into song as they celebrate each other’s company — these scenes for me are clearly a highlight of the entire Ozu oeuvre, they shine with spontaneity.’ — alsolikelife
Tokyo Story (1953)
‘Each of the three times I’ve seen this film I wonder more if there is a more perfect film out there. My latest viewing once again filled me with a dual apprehension: that this film in its two hour span states everything on my mind that I would want to say in a movie, so that there’s nothing for me to say, my job has been done; and that I still need to say something anyway, but it will have to be in a way that stands apart from this flawless work of human beauty. No one can use the word derivative to describe director Yasujiro Ozu’s style. His way of assembling a slowly unraveling series of carefully selected, unmoving camera shots explores film space in a subtle but powerful way that brings attention to the spaces between people and comments on the physical nature of human interactions. He sets a lofty standard for original, meaningful filmmaking.’ — alsolikelife
The entire film
The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice (1952)
‘An unassuming husband finds the nerve to employ non-violent resistance against his contemptuous wife after hanging out for an evening with a rebellious niece who skipped her own interview with an arranged fiance. I really could have cared less about the story as the characters were so lovingly drawn and their interactions were a joy to listen to, and that’s really where the action is in Ozu movies, the sounds and spaces between people as they repeatedly bump into each other and modify each other’s state of mind in ways both large and small.’ — alsolikelife
The entire film
Early Summer (1951)
‘I can attest that not only are no two Ozu movies the same, but that each marks a notable development along the continuum of one of the most formidable artistic visions in film. This mid-career masterpiece is no exception — its unique qualities lie partly in its assiduous exploration of interior space in an ingenious opening sequence, beautifully capturing the rhythms and choreography of a family household as they go about their morning routine. It’s no wonder that this is the favorite Ozu movie of formalist film scholar than David Bordwell — Ozu frames and re-frames his compositions, reinventing spaces with each cut and shot, turning an ordinary house into a cinematic funhouse — only PLAYTIME, IVAN THE TERRIBLE and LAST YEAR IN MARIENBAD have offered similar wonders as far as I’m concerned. Neither is this style for style’s sake: as we follow the story of how this family is pressured by social convention to marry off their daughter, the inevitable disintegration of this family makes the synchronicity and synergy of that marvelous opening sequence all the more poignant. In between, there is a rich variety of interactions between three generations of families and friends as they meet their fates, individually and collectively, one exquisite, fleeting moment at a time.’ — alsolikelife
Late Spring (1949)
‘Late Spring provided a chance for me to collaborate with Noda Kogo. Not since An Innocent Maid did such an opportunity present itself. If the director and the scriptwriter are always at odds with each, their work relationship is bound to collapse at some point. Say if one were an early to bed, early to rise type, while the other happened to be a night bird, they’d never strike the right balance, and would just let each other down. Whatever Noda, Saito and I did were in sync, even down to when we chose to take a break or have a drink. This was very important as Noda and I tended to think through every line or dialogue together when we wrote the script. Even without discussing details on props or costumes, there was an unspoken rapport between us. There was never a problem of disagreement, even when deciding to use an “oh” or an “ah” (wa or yo) in the dialogue. It was incredible. Naturally, there were times when we clung to our own opinions. After all, we were both rather stubborn and wouldn’t compromise so easily.’ — Ozu Yasujiro
Record of a Tenement Gentleman (1947)
‘Ozu’s first film after the War is a moving and highly effective piece whose plea on behalf of the underprivileged feels remarkably akin to what the Italian Neo-Realists were doing contemporaneously. Choko Iida gives a marvelous performance as a dour widow who finds herself in custody of a stoic orphan boy with a nasty bedwetting habit. For much of this film Ozu is at his best, when narrative concerns take a back seat to the unbridled joy of witnessing the rhythms of human interaction with all its quirky mannerisms: you’re no longer following a story, you’re watching life unfold before your eyes. Towards the end, the social agenda upsets this rhythm somewhat, but the last shot of numerous orphans lying about in a playground has a deeply troubling quality that lingers in the memory.’ — alsolikelife
Brothers and Sisters of the Toda Family (1941)
‘The family atmosphere here is similar to that of The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice. For this very reason, I paid special attention to making material love the dominating theme. The final scenes were shot hastily. The company said, “if we don’t wrap up the film today, we will miss the screening schedule.” “Today” actually meant “two hours!”. I had to resort to a long shot to finish up. Although this was not the most ideal way to film, one could not tell from the composition. If everyone got on well and had a good time during production, then I would become fond of that film, irrespective of the end result. In that respect, Brothers and Sisters of the Toda Family is a work I’m pleased with. I worked with Saburi Shin and Takamine Mieko for the first time. By the standards of those times, it was a classy production which perhaps explains why it become a box office hit and refuted the theory that my films could never sell. Ever since then, my films had started to perform better at the box office.’ — Ozu Yasujiro
The entire film
The Only Son (1936)
‘Ozu enters William Wyler terrain with a somber upscale family drama about a mother and daughter who are shuttled in unwelcome fashion from one family member’s home to another following the death of the family patriarch. The thematic elements of displacement within a family unit anticipate TOKYO STORY — there’s even a bedtime scene between the mother and daughter that echoes one in the later film. There’s a startling lack of music in this film, esp. during Ozu’s normally music-filled transitional shots, that contribute to an overall sense of tense unease that touches on what might have been the general wartime state of mind among Japanese at that time.’ — alsolikelife
The entire film
A Story of Floating Weeds (1934)
‘Remakably similar in structure yet different in tonal effect to Ozu’s more famous 1959 remake, this story of a travelling troupe’s last days in a seaside village was one of Ozu’s first forays into a quiet, rural background, though it still feels brisk compared to the more staid and sumptuous remake. The depictions of stage life are more slapstick-oriented than in the remake (most notably in Tokkan Kozo’s hilarious turn in a full-sized dog costume), but are counterbalanced by sensitive portrayals of all the characters, especially the great, dignified lead performance by Takeshi Sakamoto. The romantic interludes are as powerful as in the remake, though without employing the overt sensuality of on-screen kissing; instead there appears to be the use of a filter or gauze to give the scenes between the young couple an otherworldly effect, which gives more emphasis of the idea of the actress employed to seduce the troupe leader’s son enacting a “performance”.’ — alsolikelife
The entire film
I Was Born, But… (1932)
‘Put in simple terms, this is one of the greatest silent movies ever made. Though the film was intended to be screened with live voice-over by a benshi narrator, this masterpiece works stunningly well without sound, because Ozu’s unparalleled sense of visual rhythm, choreographed movement, and humor keep one’s eyes dancing in delight. The story concerns two boys who fight their way to gain status and respect among the local bullies, only to realize that their father is a bottom-feeder among the adults. As such it’s loaded with acute observations of Japanese society, and not without Ozu’s penchant for subtle but potent criticism. For people who are used to the “slow” Ozu of the 50s, this film will be a revelation, inspiring speculation as to how and why he changed a style that already was exceptional.’ — alsolikelife
p.s. Hey. ** Jonathan, Hi, J! Thanks, bud. Ah, money work, but you’re getting your licks in too, so fuck capitalism and … still! Nice you saw the Sunn. Weirdly, they haven’t Paris in ages. I don’ know what that’s about. Fun music night, fun music. I like all of that. We just finished the color grading, and it’s looking good/odd, so all is very well, film-wise. Fanny Howe recommendation? She’s terrific. Well, you could go the efficient way and get her ‘Selected Poems’. She’s pretty consistently very good. Last/newest one I’ve read of hers was ‘The Lyrics’ (Graywolf). Her fiction is quite fine as well. Much love in return! ** Tosh Berman, Ha ha, your CSN&Y. Nice. Ditto, basically. Not Terry Riley? ** Marcus Whale, Marcus! How’s it, pal? I will take your sentence as a great compliment even though it would seem to speak to the non-exhaustiveness of your class maybe? No, thanks! How are you? ** Steevee, Hi. For my money, Glass peaked in the mid-70s with ‘Einstein on the Beach’ wherein he really stretched out and found his range. After that, he mostly just played within his range, sometimes pleasurably but not challengingly. Reich isn’t what he was back in his heyday, but he still experiments and occasionally does quite good work, I think. ** David Ehrenstein, I saw Moondog on the street once during a family vacation in NYC. He was regal. ** Jamie, Hey! Yes, we finished the color grading! We almost didn’t because our Production Manager suddenly insisted on watching the final version before our producer signed off on the completion, which took 90 precious minutes, but we did. And we even had time to make a ‘computer version’ which we need for submitting the film to certain festivals. The only difference is that there’s one major scene in the film that is deliberately very dark, and, projected, it looks great, but, on the computer, you literally can’t see anything, so we had to make a second version that raises the visual temperature there a bit. Oh, I’m completely thrilled about the color, the film, everything! I really like your horror film premise. It’s simple in the best way, but it immediately sent my imagination flying about vis-a-vis possible developments and outcomes. Very, very cool. How did working on it last night go? My weekend? Some enjoying the free time in general. Catch up on a bunch of stuff I’m behind on. Probably go see some art. Hang out. It feels open-ended at the moment, which I’m thoroughly enjoying. What are you and your sis/family up to? Or I guess what did you get up to? That sounds nice. My sleep still could have used some extra hours last night, but there’s always tonight to hope towards. May your weekend be the ultimate walkthrough experience! Plenty o’ love, Dennis. ** Sypha, Hi. That’s a great Terry Riley album, yeah. Awesome about the release! I’ll go download that today. Shortly. Really look forward to it! Everyone, Here’s the mighty Sypha with some major news and a big gift. Read his words, click his links, and get consequently knocked out (in the great way). Sypha: ‘Speaking of music, today just so happens to be the official release date of “Hostile Architecture,” the debut studio LP from my new act +Passover-. As always, the curious may listen to and download it for free from the relevant Internet Archive page. Yesterday I also posted a mock interview on the MZR blog where I talk a bit about how +Passover- came to be and discuss some of its influences.’ Have a fine weekend, James! ** Dóra Grőber, Hi! Oh, sure, I think the in between thing is very natural and normal. That’s so great about the fantastic initial feedback! I know exactly what you mean about the feedback proving that what you’ve written is accessible and works as you had hoped. That’s in some way always the best possible thing about feedback. Even when the response isn’t entirely positive, it’s most important to know that your work works. Not everybody is ever going to like what one does, but as long as they get it, the ‘not my thing’ part doesn’t matter so much. Great, great! That’s very happy making, and I can feel your relief and excitement! We did finish the color grading on schedule. Now we won’t be able to even look at the film for two or three weeks, which is a good thing since we’ve been studying it in such close, constant detail that we really do need a break lest we go blind to it or something. Your brother’s coming! Or, wait, is already there! Have a complete blast with him, and tell me how that was and how your weekend went in general! Hugs from here, where it’s chilly and raining gloriously. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben. A karaoke version of ‘It’s Gonna Rain’ may just be the greatest idea I have ever heard in my life. Whoa. That Oscar guy was very in touch with his muse. I suppose it’s not a massive surprise that the career advisor’s advice wasn’t revelatory. But maybe there’ll be a great rabbit hole at the end of one of those links? ** Chris dankland, Hi, Chris! Cool, very happy you liked the music. Me too, duh. The Bryars piece is one of the truly great things, I think. I know and like Stars of the Lid, but not Ray Lynch. I’ll go find him/that. Thank you! No, I’ve been too swamped by the film to listen to 17776 Football yet. But now I’m free for a bit, and I will pronto. I don’t know where that gif is from. I literally did a gif search using the word ‘minimalist’ and it was one of the results, and I grabbed it. I don’t think its source was indicated. Enjoy your morning and its follow-up, man! ** Jeff J, Thanks Jeff. The Cale track is from his second solo album ‘The Academy in Peril’ (1972). It’s more oriented towards compositions, sound/melodic experiments, than songs. I think it’s great. It’s definitely one of my favorite Cale albums. Mm, I I guess I don’t have one favorite Part album or work. Maybe like you, I just know his works in pieces. It definitely sounds like ultimatum time. You’ve clearly been fully patient and have experienced frustration enough. Let me know how that goes. ** Bill, Hi. ‘[L]ibretto by Elfriede Jellinek (!) adapted from text by Leonora Carrington (!)’: whoa! I had no idea that existed. Crazy. Thank you for the link to the excerpts. I’ll get on that in about a minute and a half from now. Glad my encouragement is having a nudge-like effect. Have a swell weekend. ** Right. This weekend I devote the blog’s template to the sublimity that is the films of the ultra-masterly Ozu. Lots of greatness up there if you have the time and are in the mood. See you on Monday.
some of Ray Lynch’s stuff is kind of cheesy (in a cute way) — he’s classified as a New Age artist, although he hated that label. still, some of his stuff sounds like mall music to me, he’s hit and miss imo. but every so often he strays into some cool weird ethereal sounding territory. i love this song called ‘the oh of pleasure’:
i’m embarrassed to admit it but i haven’t see an ozu film before, which is awful. i’ve tried starting a couple but i was either too stoned or my attention span was too short and lazy to get very far into them. but i’m in a distinct mood to watch something quiet and sober and thoughtful. for sure i’m gonna watch one or two ozu films this weekend. thanks for the ozu breakdown !!
and congrats on having the film nearly done !! do u and zac already have a pretty clear idea of what u want the next film to be about, or when the time is right are ya’ll gonna sit down and brainstorm ideas?
What a fantastic minimalist day yesterday. Are many of those works not in the public domain yet, if you wanted to use them in your movie for nothing? Mh. You probably thought of that already.
I will investigate today’s Ozu-fest in detail.
I dreamt about the blog last night, i.e. funnily enough about seeing a classic black-and-white movie from the 40’s on it. Fitting huh?
It was about some Alan Moore-esque political thriller in late 19th century Belfast, where the head of the Irish parliament hired an private investigator to dig into some shady dealings amongst the deputies. The detective is a big tall dude with a bowler hat and doesn’t seem bothered about there being some photos of him amongst radical Marxist groups. Cue long investigation in classic Noir style with a Victorian flavor. In the end it it turned out the Taoiseach was himself leading a communist coup and had hired this red private eye counting on his implicit support.
The detective presents his findings to the Parliament, and all the rebels pull out a black umbrella [wait, why not red? are those not commies? I dunno man, ask Jung] and break into The Internationale. By the way we’re now in technicolor (and full Surround sound, I might add).
Cue killing of the non-reds with the aforementioned brollies (pointy things, those are), and the private eye then asked to wipe out the blood off the beautiful parquet, which is blue (the blood. makes sense in retrospect).
Cue more complicated stories about the secret childhood of the shamus feat. his (maybe) mother walking across slippery mountain fords with a wooden leg, and me googling the movie to get the historical context. A cinema academic has a site with mucho info on it but she says straight off: ‘if you’re coming on here from Dennis Coopers’ blog, goodbye’. She does not want us weirdos on her non-weird site for some weird reason that makes no sense to me. Screw you, I think, and read the whole entry hoping to get enlightened about what the fuck that movie was about and who was whom in it. No luck. The end.
Hahahaha, on that conclusive note, I shall wish you a great fucking weekend my friend.
So nice to see Ozu day again. Though regarded as an Absolute Master now in Ozu’s lifetime he really wasn’t well-known in the West — where Kurosawa and Mizoguchi dominated. His last film, “The Taste Of Autumn Mackrel” (aka. “An Autumn Afternoon”) premiered at the very first New York Film Festival in 1963. There was much scandal in its wake as Ozu died not long fter it was completed and on of the film’s main actors (who played the golf-obsessed son) died too. Ozu (who was gay) was particularly besotted with this actors and at his funeral the actor’s wife threw herself on the coffin screaming ‘OZU HAS TAKEN HIM WITH HIM !!!!!!”
My favorite Ozu films are “Record of a Tenement Gentleman” and “I Was Born But. . .”
I must admit that I find EINSTEIN ON THE BEACH really hard to listen to because of the singers constantly chanting numbers. But apart from that, it is one of Glass’ best albums. It’s on my iPod, and the last time I tried listening to it as I took the subway and walked around New York, I think it took a whole week to get through it.
It’s testimony to the power of Ozu’s vision that it’s a huge influence on the Colombian film I saw Wednesday, THIS TIME TOMORROW. It’s not exactly obvious that a Japanese filmmaker who began working in the ’30s would still exert an influence on a female director in Latin America well into the next century!
I’ve never seen anyone analyze in depth how Ozu’s gayness influenced his films, especially since he obsessively returned to the subject of heterosexual family life, something he never lived out in his own life. To pick one of the other canonical greats of Japanese cinema, Kurosawa actually chose to avoid depicting the nuclear family in many of his films, although he was heterosexual himself, while Ozu kept returning to it. I don’t know what this interest meant to him. Any thoughts, David?
I’ve now heard the entire Tau Cross album from which you posted a clip on the last Gig Day. I know it’s an Amebix/Voivod side project, but to me it sounds exactly like another Amebix album. I like their music a lot, so to me that’s not a criticism, but I was expecting something a bit different.
The Japanese family unit is just as structured as Ozu’s films. In an ironic or funny it resembles the heart of Minimalist music! I only heard about Ozu being gay through here on the blog, but I’m not surprised that he focuses on the male/female family unit. Generally (very) speaking, the family unit remains in place, even though there are affairs, gay or otherwise within the family unit. It’s a structure that is much admired in Japanese culture – where marriage arrangements are still worked out in certain circles. One family joins with another in marriage. So Ozu is very accurate in that sense how he portrayed ‘family’ in all of his films.
And I greatly admire and enjoy Terry Riley. I love the music he made in the 1960s where he cuts up the soul song “Shotgun” and makes loops out of it. That is one of my favorite pieces by Riley. But all of his work is fantastic.
Dennis, thanks for the shout-out. That the album even manifested at all was kind of a surprise for me because (as I said in the interview), I was planning on putting Mauve Zone Recordings on hiatus this year to focus on writing. So much for that! But I don’t foresee too much other activity on it this year… perhaps one or two more +Passover- singles and that will be it for 2017.
Oddly enough I’m in one of those weird periods where I don’t have any new writing projects in the works (as I recently scrapped the 3rd short story collection I’ve been at work on this year). Of the 7 stories I had for it I’m only saving 3 of them: one was published in the Mark Samuels tribute last year, one will be published in Justin Isis’ Neo-Decadence anthology next year, and the 3rd I plan on sending to a tribute anthology for the Russian writer Leonid Andreyev (you ever read him?) that Mark Samuels will be editing. The rest of the stories were pretty uninspired horror tripe that I’ve lost interest in. As you know I’m kind of abandoning Weird Fiction anyway. I know that Justin and his friends are trying to kill the genre off entirely with new genres of their own, such as Neo-Decadence and, more recently, Pleasant Fiction. I’m still not sure what my next step will be. On publisher I’m friends with has invited me to do a short novella/novella for them at some point in the future, and I’d like to write something that Kiddiepunk could use one day as well. So I guess I’ll be focusing on smaller-scale projects until “Harlem Smoke” gets published (though who knows when that will be).
It might be worth mentioning that I was already very familiar with Terry Riley and owned about 8 Riley albums before I got that hard drive with all the minimalist music. But I think I got IN C, which I had never heard before, out of it.
I’m going to see Mario Bava’s LISA AND THE DEVIL tonight. This film represents one of the spaces where the horror genre overlaps with surrealism. Seriously, I think Bunuel could have made it, and its original American distributor was so horrified by it that they cut out a third of it, added new scenes that weren’t shot by Bava, and released the mess they made two years later as HOUSE OF EXORCISM. I’ve only seen it on video, and I’m looking forward to seeing it on the big screen; the only problem is that the Bava retrospective is taking place at a theater that did a great job of renovating itself as a physical space – walking into the theater makes you feel like you’re entering the set of a really cool ’60s movie – but kept their tiny screens, which resemble large-screen TV monitors.
Dennis, hope you’re enjoying your weekend. Did I follow right that you’ve finished with the color grading and now get a break from working on it until doing the sound? I loved that still you posted from the film, with the guys all in white. And yeah, that Sontag quote and essay on Bresson was really helpful to me when I was revising a difficult section of my book earlier this year. BTW, the books are done and one should be on its way to you. I got my citizen ship this week which was big, so kind of coming down from that after 22 years of bureaucracy. Lots of love, Axo
D im sure the mouse loves you long time. Cody, whats up with that crazy kid these days? at moments during the Ace show which was very intimate and fucking rad i thought i was listening to Earth. im a minimalist love my new furnished place with beach theme lol. when i get my emerald flat in paris theres sure to be silk screens. growing up in the 80s i feel so japanese nintendo godzilla ninja movies toshiba nagasaki. my grandpa lived there during the wars. i have an uncle there. i remember i was super high at karate one time and learned the water principle by sticking my arm through a punching bag. taking up aikido becoming s. seagal dealer of justice lol. i love asian boys. my thai boy was a total dollbaby. did you know that almost all movements in karate are based on sword fighting without a sword. yours like shark gills
By looking through your day on Ozu, I realized how the form of Ozu’s films can be disquieting within conservative styles as well as thematics. Especially, the figures (and gestures) of women arranged with larger and constricting backgrounds and stories (family) are interesting to me. There’s something psychologically unsettling, even more so as restrained and automatic in Ozu’s portrayal of women. Thank you for the post and inspiration.
Had to find a new room in Brooklyn (sounds romantic, right?) to move in quickly, so it occupied my days and will continue to do so a bit. Apologies for less diligence and attentiveness. How is your film work going? Have you caught up with other writing projects? It sounds like the heat in Paris has regained its calm now.
PS. reread Duvert’s Atlantic Island, but I’m still unsure why it feels so different from his earlier books. Really want to review the book since, among Duvert’s, its theme is probably most friendly to readers in many kinds and close to my approach to your work as well as my (soft) fantasy ethics, so I’m reading it again. Did you open the book yet?
Oh I forgot addressing you first — Dear Dennis
Thank you! I must agree. I think my biggest fear about the book is/was that it’s so extremely… personal or close to how my mind works without any further explanation that it’s simply incomprehensible for anyone else. It proved not to be true and – as you said – from here on, I’m not so concerned with the actual opinion of the people who read it. I mean, sure, I’d be the happiest if they loved it but I’ll definitely live if it simply works the way I intended it to work.
Congratulations!! I think it might be a good thing, yes, to take a step back now, before heading right into the next phase of the editing process. It’ll be useful to be able to look at what you’ve done so far with fresh eyes.
Thank you, once again!! My brother arrived safe and sound and we kind of just have this chill day together now. It’s really nice and relaxing, especially since our monthly self-help group was yesterday and though it was way, way better than the last few ones (we could even get into the room this time, haha), it exhausted me. I’m glad, though, that it was the way it was because I feel like we could really help a few people out.
How was your weekend? Is it still chilly and raining there? It’s really hot here but we’ve got the occasional storms which help a little. I hope you’re doing very, very well!!
Hey Denderific. How are you? How was your weekend? So cool you got the colour stuff done and dusted and are feeling so positive about the film. It does sound excellent indeed.
I’m really glad you dug my screenplay idea. Thanks. I’ve spent a good bit of time trying to write it up as 400 word synopsis and it’s going quite well. I’ve also read a lot of articles on how to write a synopsis for a screenplay. The only thing that’s slightly bugging me is that, at that length, the synopsis is kind of a plot breakdown with not much talk of tone or atmosphere. But, I wonder if that kind of stuff should be mentioned anyway, or would that be considered a director’s department? Anyway, it’s going good. Hannah’s looking over my 1st draft atm and making comments. She’s always brutal, but correct.
I’m so up for watching an Ozu movie, next chance I have. All the talk at the top of the post about his shots etc really whetted my appetite and all those stills are delightful. Oh, and the gifs with the people walking in technicolour streets are total eye-candy! Thank you!
Dinner with my family made me depressed because no one asked me a single question about how I was, but that’s my family, it seems.
Ooh, and Kate, our friend who’s also coming to Paris, is looking to book tickets for Parc Asterix. She’s organised and excited. Should she get on for you?
I hope you’ve had a lovely weekend and Monday’s like a perpetual massage, but more exciting.
Dennis, I’m totally unfamiliar with Ozu’s work. See? You’ve done it again! 😀
Yes, well, let’s let Bruce Lee describe what he meant:
“This is what it is, okay. I said, ‘Empty your mind. Be formless, shapeless, like water. Now, you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. When you put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can flow, and it can crash. Be water, my friend.’ ”
Seems it has to do with mind over matter, from what little I’ve read about the quote.
I saw DUNKIRK Friday night. Not a bad movie, but not the masterpiece so many reviewers are claiming. The acting’s great, the cinematography is good, the script and dialogue aren’t (they’re rather cliche and very predictable, except in one instance, which was my favorite scene of the movie). It was a frustrating film for me. There were moments of sheer beauty but just as many of sheer mediocrity. At times, I was thinking “Man, this is a really good movie” or “Wow, this has the makings of a great movie,” and just as often, I found myself thinking, “This kind of sucks.” Nolan does some things with layering and transitions but they’re clever, not genius. Nothing new here. I give it three or three-and-a-half stars out of five. Not a bad movie, just not that great either.
And I know you’re wondering: yes, Harry Styles acquits himself very well.
Hey Dennis – Wonderful Ozu day. Still a few of his I need to catch. You admire his later color films as much as the black-and-white ones from the more ‘classic’ period?
I presented his ‘Diary of a Tenement Gentleman’ as part of a film festival I ran years ago. I was warned by local programmers that his work was far too slow, arty, and sophisticated for audiences here. I still recall the warm response it received from a late night midweek audience who mostly knew nothing about his movies. For weeks afterwards when I was at neighborhood bars and restaurants, I was stopped by various strangers who thanked me for showing ‘that Japanese film, I keep thinking about it.’ Only film where that ever happened.
On a less auspicious film note, I saw ‘Dunkirk’ b/c I’d probably see ‘Weekend at Bernie’s II’ in the theater if it was showing on 70mm. Nice to see celluloid again, but the movie doesn’t live up to its reviews and is ultimately pretty forgettable.
Any highlights from your weekend?