EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|TOKYO-GA (aka: TOKYO IMAGES) (director/writer: Wim Wenders; cinematographer: Ed Lachman; editors: Jon Neuburger/Wim Wenders/Solveig Dommartin; music: ''Dick Tracy''/Loorie Petitgand/Meche Mamecier/Chico Rojo Ortega; cast: Chishu Ryu, Yuharu Atsuta, Werner Herzog; Runtime: 92; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Chris Sievernich; Anchor Bay; 1985-West Germany/USA-in English, Japanese and German with English subtitles)|
|"Wonderfully absurd hero-worshiping homage to
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Wim Wenders (''Alice
in the Cities''/''The
666") directs this
wonderfully absurd hero-worshiping homage to Yasujiro
Ozu (1903-1963), Japan's great filmmaker and one of the world's best.
In the spring of 1983, Wenders came to Tokyo with the purpose of seeing
if the Tokyo he recalled from Ozu's films still existed. Instead he
found a modern westernized city, a place that was much different from
the master's films.
cemetery where Ozu is buried (noting only
the Chinese symbol Mu on his tombstone, denoting emptiness), pachinko parlors,
golf driving ranges, a
makes the wax replicas of Japanese food that are displayed in windows
Tokyo restaurants, and
a park gathering of Elvis impersonators and teenage rock dancers.
Taking in the nightlife at Ginza, Wenders runs into French filmmaker Chris
in the La Jetee bar (also the title of his 1962 film). At the Tokyo
Towers, Wenders runs into bitchy fellow German filmmaker Werner Herzog and interviews him at the
The film's highlights are
two long interviews with the likable octogenarian Ozu
stalwarts Chishu Ryu and Yuharu Atsuta.
Leading man Chishu Ryu is gateful Ozu chose him, saying he
doubts if he would have become a star otherwise. He tells of Ozu's long
rehearsals and how he emptied himself of his thoughts to do only what
Ozu wanted, having so much trust in him. Camera operator Yuharu Atsuta
started out as an assistant
cameraman in silents and after 15 years was promoted to cameraman,
in which he worked the next 25 years only for Ozu. Atsuta worked for
Ozu from the beginning to the end. He tells us Ozu was a special
director who cared about his crew and was a man of few words, who knew
how he wanted the film shot and ran a controlled set. We're told Ozu
preferred shooting inside,
as he was bothered by observers during location shots. That Ozu would
check out locations only by foot, and would laugh about that
eccentricity saying "they would only stop looking when they passed
out." The outside shots were mostly of trains, something Ozu
had to have in every picture. Overwhelmed with his memories, the gentle
Atsuta breaks down and
sobs expressing how fortunate he was to work for such a great man.
Tokyo-Ga gets over as a filmed diary, that's more like a home movie. Though it offers some fascinating ruminations on Ozu, that his fans will eat up, if you're not a fan of Ozu you most likely won't appreciate it.
REVIEWED ON 3/26/2011 GRADE: B+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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