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Record of a Tenement Gentleman (Nagaya shinshi roku)

Another rediscovered Ozu masterpiece. In a sense, all Ozu films are the same: the same actors, the same plot involving a family crisis, the same refined techniques. But with each viewing and with each new film, Ozu's narrative mastery and thematic depth became more apparent, more visible: the stylistic economy and discrete sensibility (in relation to incidents from everyday life to the pathos of living) are twin aspects of a singular vision, deeply Japanese in its philosophical/artistic roots but profoundly sympathetic to a good many Western eyes and ears. Here, the “plot” concerns a war orphan found on the streets of Tokyo who is sent to live with a middle-aged woman. Unrelieved poverty forms the setting of the film; the chaos of urban life in the immediate postwar period is masterfully evoked, though the main direction of Ozu's art is not sociological.

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