Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice ★★★★

I hadn’t seen a sound Ozu since the middle of 2010, and I forgot how weird it is to watch one of his films, meaning if you are following the camera action and cuts and ignoring the drama on screen, it might be infuriating. Example: during the scene where the four women sing at the spa (Ozu’s Spa Breakers, anyone?), he cuts to an outside shot of the building, only to cut back and continue the song instead of fade out. Even just within the intimate two-person scenes, he’ll cut to another entire plane of action without warning or obvious cause. But this is Ozu’s main game, and he makes this work because he has a handle on our relationship to the drama on screen. I wasn’t frankly on board too much at first - the niece is a little bit of a brat, and I found myself much more on the husband’s side than the wife. But it all came together in what is easily my favorite Ozu sequence by far: a couple making a simple meal, working together, and then sharing food at midnight. When she too slurps her food, he doesn’t even acknowledge it, but he also doesn’t have to. Their relationship is stripped of materiality and into simple, common gestures, and she finally sees that while he may be a bit of a cheapskate (another reason why I probably identified with him so much – his love of “cheap but good” food), he’s also caring in ways most other men will never be. Ozu smartly skips the second goodbye at the end (something he also does in The Only Son) to get to the moral lesson we all learn, while also adding a bit of an arsenic taste with the final shot.