The film’s singular ambition is to immerse the viewer in the thick of a frenzied drive toward the promise of a lover’s touch and a few more minutes of life. But we’re not looking at these shots in isolation. Our aesthetic perception is linked to our perception of Henry himself, so that the film becomes a study of empathy through aesthetics. It’s a shocking moment in the film, not just because Hirayama suggests that defeat was a good thing but also because he seems so ill-fit for post-war life that you might have suspected he’d spent those years bitter that his life had been defined by a losing effort. Given its twilit suburban adventures and encroaching security forces, the story exudes a superficially classical sensibility, recalling Starman and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. “Jungleland” is exhilarating for the reason that all legendary rock songs are, rendering small details on an epic scale, allowing us to feel as if our daydreams are the material for either grand transcendence or Greek tragedy. Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, a visionary depiction of a near-future dystopia, is almost impossible to imagine as a work of prose fiction. Such songs allow us, no matter how insignificant we may often assume ourselves to be, to momentarily feel bigger. Maybe the problem is that the characters are so skilled at hiding their emotions that many scenes play flat, even if later they are revealed to be false demonstrations of composure. But the acceleration toward the cataclysmic finale abandons any such traces of metaphorical nuance. Anderson uses to brilliant effect a series of archived audio recordings—leading up to the titular “breakthrough” session—that document a disturbing case of split personality. And in the tensions Ozu sets up between the different elements that he places so carefully within the frame, the tensions of the narrative are often worked out in miniature. (Incidentally, this is one of several scenes in which Chishū Ryū reminds me of a Japanese version of Tom Skerritt, circa A River Runs Through It, and with that in mind it’s easy for me to picture Hirayama in his younger Top Gun-esque days in the military.). As she would the following year in Blue Velvet, Dern nails the devastation of a young woman learning how evil and exploitative the world of men can be, and just as David Lynch’s film ended on a note of society’s mask of civilized jollity reasserting itself in the face of deeper awareness, so, too, does Smooth Talk conclude with Connie, faced with no recourse to change anything, find a way to compartmentalize her rude awakening for the sake of survival. This is particularly true of Horie’s relationship with his young new wife, which prompts lots of jokes about impotence and vitality, as well as some jabs at henpecked husbands. One of the dominant themes of An Autumn Afternoon—and many other Ozu films—is the state of post-war Japan as a country increasingly torn between traditional values and the Westernization and modernization that took over as Japan developed from devastation to renewed prosperity in the decades after the war. But if that’s the case, Ozu should be praised explicitly (and justifiably) for his craftsmanship. I find specific moments in Ozu fairly devastating, but they are the exception to the rule, and so “probing examination” and “overwhelming” aren’t words I’d use to describe this film on the whole. Evil is a force implicitly summoned by personal dysfunction in Bryan Bertino’s films, whether it’s the failed marriage proposal of The Strangers or a mother’s alcoholism in The Monster. It’s this aspect of his work, in part, that I was getting at by leading off with a discussion of the poetic quality of the film’s opening images. Such details are highly self-conscious, as Winkler is striving for a broadly mythic kind of American strife that will allow him to eventually honor the indomitability of the human spirit, but he initially handles this kitsch confidently. Gonzalez, The Mad Max trilogy is the work of a talented virtuoso who blended seemingly every trope of every movie genre into a series of punk-rock action films. After one particularly gruesome interlude, Blanche parts from the Blackledges with a snarling, “Maybe you understand my family now.” We sure don’t, but perhaps that backstory would feature the fiery intelligibility that this damp melodrama never achieves. EH: Well, there’s no arguing what you feel, and if you find that Ozu’s undeniable formalist craftsmanship overshadows the subtle emotions at the core of his stories, that’s simply a very different response than the one I have. This admission chillingly crystallizes the thin line, within the male gaze, between adoration and contempt. Ozu partly plays this off as a joke on Koichi, who seems weak and hesitant as a consequence of his wife’s forcefulness, but I think Ozu also gets a kick out of Akiko’s sharp wit. This is why films like An Autumn Afternoon, despite the specificity of Ozu’s commentary about post-war Japanese society, resonate with me in more universal ways as well. The actors playing Koichi and Miura have no choice but to sit in the same erect posture, not because it’s “in character” (in the scene on the rooftop, they’re much more relaxed) but because that’s what Ozu’s visual aesthetic requires. The characters in Ozu’s films don’t generally express themselves directly, seldom diverting from meaningless social chit-chat. When I watched An Autumn Afternoon, I scribbled down the words “animatronic” and “confined.” In this film, and in the other Ozu films I’ve seen, the actors often seem bolted in place, as rigid as something out of a Star Wars prequel. Some rely on complicated special effects, others use none at all. Ash (Bruce Campbell), horrordom’s most memorable wuss, and his girlfriend, Linda (Betsy Baker), share an intimate, peek-a-boo moment in which he gives her a necklace, and when he’s later forced to kill her, Raimi takes great joy in referencing this coquettish exchange of affection. Partly, that’s because Ozu’s cinema steadfastly refuses the kinds of concrete meanings that would allow for more solid, definitive interpretations. Instead, these scene-setting images have multi-faceted, quietly suggested implications that resonate with the film’s themes and emotions in indirect ways. Nichols was forthright about the motives of his protagonists, but cagey about whether their causes were worth believing in. But after the two younger men have left, Tomoko sits down next to her father and looks at him with an expression of despair and disgust. The central theme of the film is precisely that lack of control over one’s life. The conjuring of this feeling has been Springsteen’s life project—it thrums throughout his and the E Street Band’s recent Letter to You—and such a feeling connects his music with a strain of American films concerned with working-class complications, like Elia Kazan’s On the Waterfront and John Avildsen’s Rocky. And yet when discussing Ozu there’s a tendency to want to ascribe a meaning to specific shots that just isn’t there within the shot (or brief series of shots) itself. As elegantly composed and achingly tender as any of the Japanese master’s films, An Autumn Afternoon is one of cinema’s fondest farewells. When Ozu positions a small black-and-white TV set amidst the clutter of traditional tea cups and sake pitchers, it’s yet another small suggestion of modernity and traditionalism coexisting, though it’s also (and perhaps more obviously) simply a way of setting the scene at a small bar where businessmen are watching a baseball game after work. Jaime Christley. As viewers, we’re welcome to consider the persistent motif of walls collapsing, subterfuges dissolving, and rugs being pulled out from still more rugs. There’s nothing “wrong” with that, per se, so long as we don’t force a meaning onto those shots that I don’t believe is there to be found. It’s difficult to capture the perils of sexual awakening in young people without coming across as prudish, but Chopra never depicts her protagonist as either stupid or insensibly provocative, instead patiently and shrewdly observing the contradictions of human behavior that Dern conveys. His best films—and An Autumn Afternoon unquestionably belongs in that category—are overwhelming, but overwhelming in a very subtle and specific way. That film, though, is a much more universal examination of generational cruelty and neglect, as the children of this elderly couple (the patriarch played, as here, by Chishū Ryū) are reluctant to interrupt their busy lives to spend time with or care for their parents. Nothing hinders surrealism more than the sense that its creators are actively working for it, though Koko-di Koko-da is nonetheless difficult to dismiss. 1922 informs Stephen King’s pulp feminism with primordial, biblically ugly force. is it suspenseful? And so I suspect that for too many years Hirayama clung to his fantasy of a victorious Japan. The racial dynamics of Margaret’s resentment and kidnapping are plain enough, and for a while Kindred is a genuinely unsettling horror allegory about the ease with which a powerful white woman can strip autonomy from a black woman. Marcantonio effectively creates an imposing environment with the brooding presence of the ravens and other pieces of moody mise-en-scène, but there’s a creakiness to the story that often makes it more aggravating than horrifying or unnerving. As flighty and self-absorbed as the average teenager, Connie whiles away her summer days thinking about boys and quarrelling with her conservative mother, Katherine (Mary Kay Place), who openly favors her older daughter, June (Elizabeth Berridge), and belittles Connie as lazy and a good-for-nothing. An Autumn Afternoon (1962) December 4, 2015 July 5, 2016 p-s-chapman An Autumn Afternoon , analysis , film , review , Yasujirō Ozu Leave a comment As director, Yasujirō Ozu’s sense of shot-for-shot symmetry and balance is visually therapeutic and deeply moving. Cast: Leif Edlund, Ylva Gallon, Peter Belli, Katarina Jakobson, Morad Baloo Khatchadorian, Brandy Litmanen Director: Johannes Nyholm Screenwriter: Johannes Nyholm Distributor: Dark Star Pictures Running Time: 89 min Rating: NR Year: 2019. But as I listened to his commentary, I came away with the feeling that Bordwell knows Ozu and this film almost too well, because at this point he seems to see An Autumn Afternoon through Ozu’s eyes and with Ozu’s sensibility: Ozu was obsessed with color, particularly red, and so Bordwell fittingly calls attention to the presence of color in many shots. This approach to performance is as much a part of Ozu’s carefully constructed milieu as his static camera placement, finicky mise en scène and avoidance of dissolves and fades. Yes, those shots begin to set the mood—but they only begin to do that. Cast: Tamara Lawrence, Fiona Shaw, Jack London, Edward Holcroft, Chloe Pirrie, Anton Lesser Director: Joe Marcantonio Screenwriter: Joe Marcantonio, Jason McColgan Distributor: IFC Midnight Running Time: 101 min Rating: NR Year: 2020.

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