Archive for the ‘ Great Classics ’ Category

Great Classics: Tokyo Story (Ozu, 1953)

Japanese Title: 東京物語 (Tokyo Monogatari)

I first watched Tokyo Story in a classroom some time ago and witnessed something curious.  I have never seen a group of people so choked up over a film, ever.  The most curious thing about it though is that most could not place what exactly made them so emotional.  There are moments in Tokyo Story in which you are hit with a wall of emotions, surprised and overwhelmed that this simple little film could evoke such feelings.  It’s something about the characters, the honesty, the way everything hits home despite the cultural and time-period barriers. Continue reading

Great Classics: Tampopo (Itami, 1985)

Who doesn’t love food?

Itami Juzo’s Tampopo is a heartwarming film about people who love, and are often obsessed with, food.  The main narrative follows two truck drivers, Gun (Yamazaki Tsutomu) and Goro (Watanabe Ken) who stumble upon a run down, unpopular ramen noodle shop.  The shop’s owner, Tampopo (Miyamoto Nobuko), is running it all by herself and isn’t too experienced in the “art” of making good ramen.  After a brawl, Gun and Goro take it upon themselves to improve Tampopo’s cooking and redefine her shop.  The film not only focuses on this narrative, but is interspersed with brilliantly transitioned scenes of people’s interaction with food: a white-suited yakuza (Yakusho Koji) and his mistress perform erotic acts with food, a group of homeless turn out to be master chefs, a young corporate subordinate upstages all of his superiors with his knowledge of French cuisine at an expensive dinner, an old lady sneaks around in a supermarket just to feel the food, among others. Continue reading

Great Scenes: “Food fight” from Family Game

Family Game (家族ゲーム) is a 1983 film directed by Morita Yoshimitsu.  The film explores many social issues in Japan at the time including, but not limited to, dysfunctional families, competitive educational problems, and bullying.  Family Game is about the Numata family, which consists of mother, father, and two sons, Shinichi and Shigeyuki.  Shigeyuki is a junior high student who will be taking his high school entrance exams soon, while Shinichi is already attending a prestigious high school.  Shigeyuki’s grades, unlike his elder brother Shinichi’s, are poor.  So his father finds him a private tutor, Yoshimoto, and expects him to help Shigeyuki improve his grades and pass the entrance exam to a top high school.  Yoshimoto is a student at a third-rate University, but still manages to exponentially improve Shigeyuki’s grades using strict and overly odd tactics.  Family Game is a brilliant film that keeps you interested and laughing.  Employing dark humor, Morita effectively keeps the film entertaining while also being provocative.  The film reaches its climax in the following scene. Continue reading