Twitter Sonnet #242
Thin leaves point across a crooked bay arm.
Boiling sweat forgets knowledge at the dawn.
Openness is more expensive than harm.
Old trees bend across a national lawn.
Grey web jagged blocks dim in the slow fog.
Etch A Sketch veins ignore the miner's pick.
Dark earth bubbles under the cotton dog.
Stripper pole baleen sloshed thick ether brick.
Orange band-aid iguana scales slip downstream.
Blank sky eroded every edifice.
Cold wind conducts hints of an erased dream.
Paper mud sloughs on a stone octopus.
Sheets of rippling amber strands lay on rose.
Morning clouds warm as the feline sun goes.
Last night I watched Yasujiro Ozu's 1953 film Tokyo Story. Many of the films made in Japan after World War II are in some way about the people dealing with the impact of the war and the vast cultural changes taking place in the country. Tokyo Story may be the subtlest in its handling of post World War II issues, but in a way that's distinctly Ozu. That is, it's not especially subtle for Ozu. It's just that Ozu had such a singular talent for conveying ideas almost in the way they'd come over you if you actually knew and were living with the people in his films. His almost always static camera and his many long takes of characters carrying out tasks other directors may have left as implied--getting up, walking to the phone to answer it, walking into a room, bending at the knees, sitting, folding towels, putting them carefully in a specific spot--all these things certainly add to the feeling of observing things in real time. And yet this isn't remotely dull. At two hours and fifteen minutes, I wondered if I was going to be able to finish the movie before I had to go to bed last night, but time passed while I barely noticed.
What Ozu accomplishes with this are insights into people and life unique to cinema. The final effect of his Floating Weeds is to show just how hard it is to move people even an inch in their deeply held notions--and even if they do move, they're not likely to ever acknowledge it. In Tokyo Story, it's the real, undeniable inadequacy of the human life span and the inadequacy of the human capacity to connect with other human beings. As the young Kyoko discovers with some shock how her sisters so naturally drifted away emotionally from their parents for their independent lives in Tokyo she observes, "Life is very disappointing." To which Setsuko Hara as Noriko replies, with a polite smile, "Yes, it is." There's nothing sinister, there are no villains. Life simply doesn't hold as much as people need from it.
This, I would say, is one of the reasons Ozu felt compelled to construct every shot as carefully and beautifully as possible, because such beauty really is a precious commodity.