38. “Floating Weeds”, Yasujiro Ozu (1959)

Part of The 100 Greatest Movies I’ve Ever Seen List.

Floating Weeds.jpg

Floating Weeds aka 浮草 or Ukigusa

dir. Yasujiro Ozu scr. Kogo Noda and Yasujiro Ozu cin. Kazuo Miyagawa with Ganjiro Nakamura, Machiko Kyo, Ayako Wakao, Hiroshi Kawaguchi, and Haruko Sugimura

In 100 words: This list could have been populated by several Ozu films and they would all make sense: so consistent is the quality of his pictures, that picking one that stands out is tough. Weeds, however, pushes Ozu far beyond his normal limits—the compositions, with such bright colors, are so much more polished and aesthetically beautiful; the central conflict is more piercing and weightier than his usual fare; and the performances are more alive and feistier. Yet what remains intact is quintessential Ozu: the warmth, the depth and complexity of his relationships, and the quiet beauty and loveliness of his film.

Other Movies for Context: The greatest of all Japanese directors, I think? His style is so inimitably his that one knows it’s an Ozu movie greeting them by that opening tatami shot. Ozu is super consistent, making great movies out of subjects that seem benign. Tokyo Story (1953) is his most celebrated and well-known, and it was hard to leave out. Late Spring (1949) was also remarkably amazing, mostly because that last shot still slays me today. I’m a big fan of his last movie An Autumn Afternoon (1963), which is similarly feistier than normal for him, and screamed at how adorable he directed the kids of I Was Born, But… (1932), a silent movie that feels unlike anything you’ve seen in silents.

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