Sunday, January 30, 2011

Tokyo Story

(just watch it)

I've been having uncommonly good luck with movies lately. Tokyo Story is one of the most beautiful movies I've ever seen. It is a movie that slows us down to its own pace. It makes us want to be kinder, more understanding, and more patient. It is about nothing more or less than the passage of time, the inability of us humans to appreciate one another, and our ability to acclimate to any situation life creates for us. On the surface, it seems like a warm-hearted movie about family and modernity, but lying just beneath themes seem to pounce upon us that are anything but. This is a movie about the life cycle - a subject as ancient as life itself - and our inability in our short time allotted to be consoled by those to whom we should be closest.

Of course much (too much?) is always made of Ozu's style - a mostly stationary camera that lingers in rooms far after people are no longer occupy them (seconds seem like an eternity). Every critic seems to have his/her own theory about what that signifies. I suppose the simple act of having a pet theory is unavoidable in any discussion of Ozu. So mine is simple: we are watching life filmed from the point of view of the inanimate objects that occupy our space even when we're not there. When we leave the room, the chairs and tables are still there, and in a sense they observe us far more than we observe them. In the absence of God, who else is there for us to plead our case?

And so life continues. We breathe, we eat, we talk, we draw closer to some people and further apart from others. There are those with whom we develop a private language, and those with whom we've never really communicated. We go through life full of understanding and misunderstanding. Hopefully, we're wise enough to know that we should be kinder, and sufficiently wise to know that we probably won't.

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