A Story of Floating Weeds

A Story of Floating Weeds ★★★★

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Yasujiro Ozu is known as one of the grandest masters of cinema. Recently, his film Tokyo Story topped a poll of 358 filmmakers for the Sight & Sound Director's Top Ten. He's a director that is considered to be dense for many (myself included). But the simplicity of A Story of Floating Weeds showcases why his style works. It's a movie that seems completely separate from every other film I've seen from that time period.

My biggest gripe with Tokyo Story is, frankly, it wasn't that innovative. It was Ozu honing his skills in for the 50th time and making a near perfect movie. This film is the first Ozu film I've seen that, to me, is groundbreaking. In 1930s American cinema you have an over-saturation of romantic comedies. Of course there are great movies that came out of the silent era in America, but nothing that addressed the family dynamic and drama quite this seriously.

The story focuses on a kabuki troupe that is traveling the country and putting on shows. I loved the theater sets. It's a film that bridges the gap between theater on the stage and theater on the screen. Kihachi Ichikawa, the lead, has a number of untied loose ends around the country he is forced to address. Out of wedlock lovers, un-claimed children, domestic violence, this movie's got it all! It's up to Kihachi to right all his wrongs and hold everything together. The drama is sloppy and believable. The cinematography looks like something shot 15 years later. I understand why Ozu re-made this film, it works perfectly with his style.

Ozu understands film. And I think I am starting to understand Ozu.