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Criterion Collection: An Autumn Afternoon [DVD] [1962] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

Chishű Ryű , Shima Iwashita , Yasujir˘ Ozu    DVD

Price: ú13.03
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Region 1 encoding (requires a North American or multi-region DVD player and NTSC compatible TV. More about DVD formats.)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars  21 reviews
33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime Swan Song 15 Dec 1999
By Rajesh Balkrishnan - Published on
Ozu's final masterpiece is a such a wonderful way to end one of the most distinguished careers in filmmaking. Chisu Ryu is once again superb as a lonely widower trying to grapple with giving away his only daughter in marriage. Although the film runs the gamut of familiar Ozu themes, you never ever tire of the Ozu trick of a "good two hours spent with your neighbors". His beauty of filmmaking, which is drenched in simple joys of everyday living makes him one of the greatest humanists of world cinema, along with Ray and Renoir. Put simply, this film is "stunning visual poetry". This is an absolute "must have" for all you Ozu fans out there, and recommended for all lovers of world cinema.
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ordinary people, extraordinary film-making 30 Jun 2002
By A Customer - Published on
Some have called director Yasujiro Ozu the poet of the everyday. Most of his films deal with ordinary people leading ordinary lives. But what is not so ordinary is Ozu's ability to capture the essence of human relations. His characters seem so real to us, because they are reflections of ourselves and the people we know. In Ozu's final film, Samma No Aji (which literally means "the taste of mackerel"), a widower knows his only daughter must eventually leave home and marry. We watch, as he tries to deal with his growing sense of isolation and loneliness. He becomes nostalgic for the good ol' days. He hangs out at a bar run by a woman who reminds him of his late wife. A popular World War Two song, Gunkan Machi (Warship March) pervades the film. In contrast to this, his married son and daughter-in-law represent the new Japan. They are more concerned about material things like golf clubs and new appliances. There are sad moments in this film, but funny ones as well. One of my favorite scenes takes place in the bar. The widower, who was a naval officer during the war, and a former shipmate are talking. The shipmate says if Japan had won the war, American women would now be wearing geisha-like wigs and chewing gum while playing the shamisen (a Japanese musical instrument). There is no melodrama in this movie, just an honest portrayal of family life and human relations. And it's that honesty that makes watching an Ozu film such a memorable experience.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ozu's Final Masterpiece 5 Oct 1999
By A Customer - Published on
I love Ozu's films. He seems to be one of the few directors to create a style that his and his alone. He seemed to be having a good time with this one - developing humor between many of his characters - the businessman and the old war veteran at the bar. His characteristic still life images are wonderful as well, even plying an occasional trick on the viewer. I love this film - and I hop you get a chance to see it
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Taste of an Autumn Mackerel........ 3 July 2008
By Grigory's Girl - Published on
This was Yasujiro Ozu's final film. Is it phenomenally different than other Ozu works? Is it a film that takes Ozu in a radically different direction? No. It's just the final chapter in one of the most unique filmographies in cinema history. It's like all his other films, in that it's contemplative, beautiful, moving, serene, and simple, yet, it feels new and unique. Ozu's films, if taken all together, are like a long novel, all leading up to this one, which ended up being the final chapter (even though Ozu did not intend it to be that way). Many say that a filmmaker just keeps remaking the same film all his/her life, and with Ozu that may be true. A friend of mine criticised his aesthetic because of this, but whenever I watch a film of his, I feel so alive and peaceful. Ozu's plots are often the same with minor variations, yet, I am watching a great artist paint another portrait in film, and I don't feel that Ozu is repeating himself at all. Despite the differences between the films, the films all feel unique and gentle. They are filled with a deep humanism, and they are all knowing and filled with that eternal longing.

This film has a deeper sadness that Ozu's other work. It also has some very funny comedy, and may I say, even a bit dark for an Ozu film. There is also some bitterness to the characters, a little more tart than other Ozu films, but also that deep humanism as well. There are some really moving scenes here, especially when we see the daughter in her wedding gown, and the final shot of the film (and the final shot of Ozu's career) where Chishu Ryu sits down in a darkened kitchen, alone.

The transfer of the film is a little grainy at times (probably due to the source material), but the film is still very watchable. There are 2 trailers (and they feature Ozu himself directing the film), a fascinating excerpt from a French TV show about cinema (with Michel Clement, the famous film critic), and commentary (which is your standard, film professor type boredom).

The original title of this film was The Taste of an Autumn Mackerel, which doesn't really translate well into English. The American title is An Autumn Afternoon, and it's a much better title for the film. It's a great, wonderful film, a worthy final chapter to one of the greatest, most unique directors in cinema history.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ozu's Valedictory Film Seems a Most Fitting Summation of His Legendary Career 31 Oct 2008
By Ed Uyeshima - Published on
The last work from revered filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu is a surprising delight, at once a summation of the family dramas that dominated his postwar career and a celebration of his quiet artistry. It's a movie that doesn't call attention to itself and even goes as far as lifting entire sequences from his previous films. At the same time, this 1962 drama is not so much a re-telling of the same stories (co-written with longtime collaborator K˘go Noda) as it is a re-evaluation of the same dramatic themes that inform the director's work since Late Spring, his 1949 classic to which this film bears the strongest resemblance. Ozu aficionados will find all his familiar, idiosyncratic touches here - the elliptical narrative, the observational view of the characters from the outside, the thoughtfully composed shots, and the stationary, slightly above-ground camera angles to replicate the perspective of someone sitting on a tatami mat. Moreover, Ozu liked using the same actors over and over again, so it comes a no surprise that frequent Ozu actor Chishu Ryu stars in the director's valedictory film.

The character-rich plot centers on middle-aged businessman Shuhei Hirayama who lives with his 24-year-old daughter Michiko and younger son Kazuo. In the absence of a mother, Michiko takes care of the wifely responsibilities for her father and brother and hasn't considered marriage in the near term even though Japanese tradition would label her an old maid soon enough. Hirayama's old friend Kawai has an eligible bachelor in mind to connect with Michiko, but her heart belongs to someone else who is unaware of her interest. Hirayama thinks there is no hurry to marry his daughter off until he sees his old middle schoolteacher comically nicknamed "The Gourd" by his old classmates. Hirayama and Kawai take the wizened man home in a drunken state after a night of sake and beer. They see that he now owns a run-down noodle shop and lives with his daughter, an aging spinster who reveals hints of her sad fate. As Hirayama forges ahead with his daughter's prospect, his older son Koichi struggles to live within his modest means with a wife who nags him about his spendthrift ways. He needs to borrow money from his father to buy a new refrigerator but wants to buy a set of used MacGregor golf clubs against his wife's objections. The plot threads eventually come together when Michiko does marry leaving Hirayama to share household responsibilities with Kazuo.

What first catches your eye is Ozu's vivid use of color, especially a bold use of red in both defining and transitional shots. The other aspect is tonal as the director has moved from the barely concealed emotionalism of his early works to a certain ruefulness in his last film. The last few minutes cover the exact same dramatic finale of "Late Spring", but this time, it doesn't seem nearly as tragic, evoking a slightly melancholic resignation. The stoic Ryu plays the role of the widowed father in both films, this time given an intriguing backstory as an officer in the Imperial Navy during World War II. This leads to my favorite scene at a bar where Hirayama runs into a former sailor under his command (played with boisterous relish by Kurosawa favorite Daisuke Kato) and speculate what Japan would be like had they won the war. Played by Ky˘ko Kishida, the bar hostess will be familiar to art-house connoisseurs for the title role in Hiroshi Teshigahara's classic Woman in the Dunes. Another familiar face is Haruko Sugimura (the selfish older daughter in Tokyo Story) whose cameo as the schoolteacher's spinster daughter is heartbreaking. Eijiro Ton˘ (Tora! Tora! Tora!) cuts an effectively pitiable figure as her father.

Shima Iwashita plays Michiko with snippy plaintiveness, effective enough but a far cry from the luminous Setsuko Hara in the earlier film (her reassuring presence is missed here). Keiji Sada (who sadly died in a car crash soon after this film was made) and Mariko Okada etch a revealing postwar portrait of a young Japanese couple struggling to make ends meet in their small apartment. Compared to previous Ozu classics released by the Criterion Collection, the extras on this 2008 release are sparse and limited to one disc. First, there is a highly informative commentary track by author David Bordwell (Ozu and the Poetics of Cinema). The second is a fifteen-minute excerpt from a 1978 French TV special, "Yasujiro Ozu and The Taste of Saki" just as France was discovering his work. Critics Michel Ciment and Georges Perec lend their rather pretentious perspectives. Two theatrical trailers round out the disc extras. There is also a 28-page booklet about the film's production included in the slipcase.
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