Friday, October 29, 2010
LATE SPRING (1948, JAPAN), TOKYO STORY (1953, JAPAN), FLOATING WEEDS (1959, JAPAN), AN AUTUMN AFTERNOON (1962, JAPAN)
(Father, Mother, Daughter #1, Daughter #2 and Son #1 are sitting around the dinner table.)
Father: I just wanted to say how happy I am to have my entire family with me.
Mother: Yes, I can't wait for tonight's meal!
Daughter #1: Grandmamason and her legendary Suykiaki have never let us down.
Mother: And don't forget the Shishimi, honey.
Daughter #2: Yum!
Father: Has anyone seen my bottle of sake?
Mother: Go easy on the sake, husband.
(Grandmamason comes in and serves the Shishsimi)
Father: (Twirling a chopstick between his fingers) Thank you, Grandmamason!
(Grandmamason smiles, but grunts as she serves.)
Mother: I don't know about Grandmamason carrying that
heavy food bowl. She might fall down and break a hip.
Father: And if she does, we will be sure to all handle all of her medical needs.
What's that Confucian proverb say?
Daughter #2: (Speaking quickly) Be a good son or daughter when your parents are alive for none can serve them beyond the grave. We learned that in school!
(All nod in agreement as they pass around the plates. Father watches
his family with pride before taking a drink from his bottle of sake.)
Father: And what else have you learned in school?
Daughter #2: Much...much...I am accumulating much wisdom
Father: (Smiling) And what about you eldest daughter? Isn't it about
time for you to find a husband and continue the life cycle?
Daughter #1: I don't know, I'm happy with the way things are now.
(All nod in agreement as they continue to pass around the plates. Father continues to watch his family with pride before taking a drink from his bottle of sake, which had been next to him the entire time.)
Father: How about you number one son? What do you think about your sister marrying?
Son #1: I'm just thinking about dinner.
Mother: (To husband) Go easy on that Sake.
Father: You don't need to worry about me.
Daughter #2: One question, father. Why are we talking like this?
I don't usually call you father.
Father: We're trying to have a normal family conversation
in the tradition of the films of Yasuro Ozu. He magnified the simplicity and the complexity of family life in subtle terms few have been able to master as well before or since. The subtext of any simple conversation can have multiple interpretations, such as-
Daughter #1: Oh-who? Never heard of him. And the simplicity of family life doesn't really sound all that exciting to me. Besides, eating on the floor like this hurts my back.
Father: (to Son #1) What about you? You like Japanese movies.
Son #1: If its Anime.
Mother: Now, now. All of you need to try to indulge your father.
Daughter #1: This doesn't feel right.
Father: Perhaps you aren't trying hard enough dearest elder daughter.
Daughter #2: I agree with sister. I can't keep this up. It's not natural.
Father: Not natural? It's perfectly natural when Ozu writes it.
What do you think, number one son?
Son #1: I'm just thinking about dinner.
Father: (Putting head in hands before) Oh, who am I kidding?
(Throwing his chopsticks in the middle of the table) There's only one Ozu and its not me!
Daughter #1: (Leaving the table) Don't feel bad, father. I may get married someday, though I doubt it would ever be with anyone you'd approve of anyway.
Daughter #2: (Leaving the table) I've got to go text someone. Can I be excused?
(Son # 1 starts to leave the table)
Father: (to son#1) Where are you going?
Son #1: To play video games. Sayanora, Otosan. (Son #1 bows before departing.)
Father: (Looking at wife) You'll stay with me, won't you?
Mother: I would dearest, but a new episode of The Closer is about to come on.
(Mother takes a couple of steps toward the living room before stopping momentarily to look at her husband with a somewhat guilty look before departing for the living room.)
Grandmamason comes out of the kitchen wiping off her hands with a towel. She stares at her son-in-law sympathetically.)
Grandmamason: Isn't Life Disappointing?
Father: (beginning to peel an apple) Yes, It Is.