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Yasujirô Ozu Double Feature: TOKYO STORY (TOKYO MONOGATARI), 1953, Janus Films, 136 min. Revered master director Yasujirô Ozu dealt with the pathos, poetry and humor of everyday family life in Japan, and his most highly regarded masterwork is, without question, this heart-rending drama of elderly parents (Chishu Ryu, Chieko Higashiyama) leaving their provincial home village to visit their indifferent grown-up children in the city. As in all of Ozu’s pictures, there is a deceptively simple presentation of commonplace events that nevertheless, by the end, have drawn on deep wellsprings of emotion. One of Ozu’s greatest talents was in showing these feelings as universal, as part of the human condition and not specific to Japan; and it is well nigh impossible not to be moved by his films. “It doesn’t want to force our emotions but to share its understanding. It does this so well that I am near tears in the last 30 minutes. It ennobles the cinema. It says, yes, a movie can help us make small steps against our imperfections.” – Roger Ebert. In Japanese with English subtitles.
AN AUTUMN AFTERNOON (SANMA NO AJI), 1962, Janus Films, 113 min. The final film from master director Yasujirô Ozu touches upon many of his favorite themes: marriage, family ties, generation gaps and loneliness among them. Ozu regular Chishû Ryû stars as salaryman Hirayama, a widower who lives contentedly with his daughter and youngest son. But a night out drinking with a former teacher (Eijirō Tōno) prompts Hirayama to wonder if he has consigned his daughter to a life of spinsterhood. One of Ozu’s few color films, this understated drama puts his famously meticulous shot compositions to excellent use. In Japanese with English subtitles.