Monthly Archives: February 2005

Passing Fancy

passing fancy

Inspired partly by King Vidor’s The Champ, this silent 1933 masterpiece by Yasujiro Ozu takes place in a Tokyo slum, where a slow-witted, good-hearted, heavy-drinking day laborer (Takeshi Sakamoto) tries to deal with his rebellious son (Tokkan Kozo). It opens with one of the funniest stretches of slapstick Ozu ever filmed, though the remainder is colored by Chaplinesque pathos. As the loving and lovable father, Sakamoto creates one of the most complex characters in Japanese cinema, and Kozo (who played the younger brother in I Was Born, But…) isn’t far behind. The milieu they inhabit is perfectly realized, making this a pinnacle in Ozu’s career. In Japanese with subtitles. 103 min. Dave Drazin will provide live piano accompaniment. Sun 2/6, 3 PM, Gene Siskel Film Center.… Read more »

Dolls

A more unabashed art movie than any of Takeshi Kitano’s other films, this exquisitely composed 2002 feature (made between Brother and The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi) begins with a traditional form of Japanese puppet theater called Bunraku before it segues into three overlapping, highly stylized, but otherwise unrelated contemporary tales. In each the protagonist (a businessman, an aging yakuza, and a female pop singer disfigured in a traffic accident, as Kitano was several years ago) tries to compensate for having chosen work over love and winds up with a mate who has sacrificed everything for it. The overall mood is stately and melancholy, the selective use of color is ravishing, and some of the natural views are breathtaking. In Japanese with subtitles. 113 min. Music Box.… Read more »