Photo by Tom Taylor

Ebert on Ozu

I've recently been watching and studying the films of the great Japanese director, Yasujiro Ozu. "Studying" as in reading up on him on the internet and watching the films with commentary tracks on with the Criterion editions. In fact, I'm kind of a bit obsessed with Ozu at this point of my life. There's something about his quiet, understated but poetic approach to everyday people that I find very compelling.

In honor of the passing of the great film critic Roger Ebert, Criterion has shared this opening of the commentary track of Ozu's "Floating Weeds" (a film I have yet to see) by none other than Ebert. It makes me want to watch the rest immediately. It also makes me miss Ebert's voice, which I hadn't heard in years. Some 40 seconds in, Ebert sums up Ozu in a way that I could not and which feels absolutely perfect to me. Commenting on the simplicity of the opening credits he explains how this serves notice to the viewer that "You're entering into a world that will not be highly charged with plots and with special effects, but into a contemplative world. a world that critic Paul Schrader wrote about Ozu in his book about Ozu, Bresson and Dryer, is a world about transcendental film, films that try to lift us up out of the ordinary and invite us to contemplate the beauty and the simplicity, the tragedy and the joy of ordinary human life."

To me, the noblest role that a critic can fill is to heighten one's appreciation for a great work of art. Ebert did this often and his work will be sorely missed in this age when snark and glibness pass for serious analysis.

posted by Jim Chadwick @ 7:15 AM,


At 8:02 PM, Blogger Scott Peterson said...

To me, the noblest role that a critic can fill is to heighten one's appreciation for a great work of art.

Spot on.


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Jim Chadwick is a native New Yorker who has been living in southern California for the past 20 years. Jim has worked in comic books, publishing, toys and video games for way longer than he'd care to admit. That's because he is way older than he would like to be.

Jim is an editor for DC Comics, working out of the company's west coast office in Burbank, California. But if you came here looking for industry dirt, forget it. I like my job and I'd like to keep it. While I may sometimes talk about comics, this is mostly dedicated to my other interests.

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The title of the blog comes from an old Elvis Costello song that originally appeared on the album (and I can say "album" because I originally bought it on vinyl) called Blood and Chocolate. It's not my favorite Elvis song (though I like it a lot), but I chose it because in the lyrics, the subjective speaker is telling someone that they are now going to have to essentially shut up and listen to what he has to say. Which seemed kind of appropriate to the nature of blogging.

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