Sunday, June 24, 2007


The pendulum swings in the opposite direction...

From Stacey Case's Trash Palace, we now move to Cinematheque Ontario, which for the duration of the summer will be running a retrospective of films from the Janus Films collection (Janus Films being an independent North American distributor which can be credited with introducing to North American audiences over the last five decades some of the greatest films and directors of world cinema). Call it a Best-of-the-Best, or All-Killer-No-Filler - Renoir, Kurosawa, De Sica, Bergman, Bresson: all the directors your cinema studies profs have been drilling into your heads for the last few years (and if you can still stomach them after all that, then you are to be commended).

If you have the time (often we don't) and the money (as students. we rarely do), I'd encourage you to see as many films as possible. But if I was going to recommend to you one film to see at Cinematheque this summer (and I say this with great hesitation, as many of my favourite films will be playing there), it would have to be Yasujiro Ozu's 'Tokyo Story'. Now, I'm sure there are many a cinephile out there that is groaning at this choice, given that the film just topped a critics list of 'greatest films of all time'. But if we can get past our cultural elitism (a disease that is positively rampant in this city), I think we can all admit what a beautiful, utterly human movie 'Tokyo Story' is, and how necessary it is to see such a film on the big screen (I've seen it at Cinematheque at least twice).

For a more qualified opinion, I quote Donald Richie, a Japanese film scholar whose writings on Ozu I don't fully endorse (I find his views on the essential nature of the 'Japanese tradition' problematic) but who nonetheless has the most sensitive appreciation for Ozu out of all the critics I've read on the subject:

'The end effect of an Ozu film - and one of the reasons that he is thought of as a spokesman for the Japanese tradition - is a kind of resigned sadness, a calm and knowing serenity which persists despite the uncertainty of life and the things of this world. It implies that the world will go on and that mutability, change, the evanescence of things, also yield their elegiac satisfactions.' - from 'Japanese Cinema' by Donald Richie

Not that Cinematheque needs our money (they have corporate sponsorship) and not that we can't go to Queen Video and rent most of these films ourselves. Nonetheless, I encourage all of you to choose one or two films from this summer's program to see. And being a Kurosawa fan (Kino-Eye's official mascot is, of course, Toshiro Mifune), I would be remiss not to encourage you to see 'Rashomon' or 'The Seven Samurai'. Classics, all.

Check out the full list of films offered this season at Cinematheque, as well as info on how to become a member, by clicking on this little link.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Like your writing style Dirks.