Wednesday, July 07, 2010

A Straightforward Brat

A Jigsaw Flatplan

Ozu's earliest surviving work — or one of them — fragmentarily extant from 1929 — is a great surrealist work in its concatenation of scenes. The boy (Tomio Aoki, dead in 2004 but whom we can watch in other films by Ozu and by Kon Ichikawa, along with two films by the greatest living Japanese director — Seijun Suzuki's extraordinary Yajû no seishun [Youth of the Beast, 1963] and kantoku's 2001 masterpiece Pistol Opera) gets kidnapped by the John Carradine of Ozu's silent cinema, Tatsuo Saitô. The miscreant's false moustache finds an echo in the bald patches (malnutrition? scalp disease? they regardless rhyme with Aoki's kimono's pattern) of the alopeciac co-conspirator, played by Takeshi Sakamoto. Not-Mabuses, the unashamed pair share residence in a domestic-hovelship of crime, Sakamoto especially making a perfect target or twelve for the suction-cup projectiles launched from Aoki's pistol-toy. Clever gag in the oft-typically-lame Japanese Slapcorn Idiom, which Ozu will nonetheless hew and refine five years on for Aoki's turn in A Tale of Floating Weeds [Ukigusa monogatari, 1934].

Tokkan kozô [A Straightforward Brat] by Yasujirô Ozu, 1929:

Both the first act and the last act (separated across fourteen minutes) represent a forgotten realm, a 'nook' of city, mini-labyrinth probably not much more than five-hundred feet square, a kind of Fontaínhas for the 'passing-by.' It brings to mind reels by Essanay Studios or Max Sennett. The premise of the kidnapping is unknown, and that being such centers the premise back into the realm of kid-age anxiety over kidnapping — 'they kidnap you because they want to kidnap you!' and not because, as one realizes upon growing older, that the shadow-they want you for sexual slavery. Ozu configures the chaste childhood bedtime-ceiling-stare version, — it's a comedy, after all. All the antics find Carradine/Saitô redeposit Aoki at home-base and, soon after, his band of friends chase the kidnapper back down for revenge-pelting. A fascinating, justified early work by the Master of the Seasons.

Tokkan kozô [A Straightforward Brat] by Yasujirô Ozu, 1929:

If you're able to get a hold of this Silent Film, you should watch it silent with volume off, or accompanied by "Audrey's Dance" by Angelo Badalamenti.


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