989 The Flavor of Green Tea over Rice

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swo17
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989 The Flavor of Green Tea over Rice

#1 Post by swo17 » Wed May 15, 2019 4:43 pm

The Flavor of Green Tea over Rice

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One of the ineffably lovely domestic sagas made by Yasujiro Ozu at the height of his mastery, The Flavor of Green Tea over Rice is a subtly piercing portrait of a marriage coming quietly undone. Secrets and deceptions strain the already tenuous relationship of a childless, middle-aged couple, as the wife's city-bred sophistication bumps up against the husband's small-town simplicity, and a generational sea change—in the form of their headstrong, modern niece—sweeps over their household. The director's abiding concern with family dynamics receives one of its most spirited treatments, with a wry, tender humor and buoyant expansiveness that moves the action from the home into the baseball stadiums, pachinko parlors, and ramen shops of postwar Tokyo.

SPECIAL FEATURES

• New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
What Did the Lady Forget?, a 1937 feature by director Yasujiro Ozu
• New interview with film scholar David Bordwell
Ozu & Noda: Tateshina Diaries, a new documentary by Daniel Raim on Ozu's relationship with longtime screenwriter Kogo Noda
• New English subtitle translation
• PLUS: An essay by scholar Junji Yoshida

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HinkyDinkyTruesmith
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Re: 989 The Flavor of Green Tea over Rice

#2 Post by HinkyDinkyTruesmith » Wed May 15, 2019 4:53 pm

The special features look wonderful––including another Ozu film, WHAT DID THE LADY FORGET! This is very exciting indeed! This was one of my least favorite postwar Ozus when I went through all his stuff before FilmStruck kicked the bucket––does it have any ardent defenders around these parts?

Edited: sorry!
Last edited by HinkyDinkyTruesmith on Wed May 15, 2019 5:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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mfunk9786
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Re: 989 The Flavor of Green Tea over Rice

#3 Post by mfunk9786 » Wed May 15, 2019 5:00 pm

HinkyDinkyTruesmith wrote:
Wed May 15, 2019 4:53 pm
Although the title font is a bit too void of character, I think the cover is gorgeous
There's a thread for this! Please try to keep conversations about releases on topic. Thanks!

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swo17
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Re: 989 The Flavor of Green Tea over Rice

#4 Post by swo17 » Wed May 15, 2019 5:06 pm

This is fantastic news, particularly because it's one of the few Ozus BFI never got around to

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bottled spider
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Re: 989 The Flavor of Green Tea over Rice

#5 Post by bottled spider » Wed May 15, 2019 5:13 pm

Stop making me buy stuff, Criterion. This, The Inland Sea, the Koker Trilogy, Swing Time... will it ever end?

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domino harvey
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Re: 989 The Flavor of Green Tea over Rice

#6 Post by domino harvey » Wed May 15, 2019 5:17 pm

ineffably lovely
Come on now

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zedz
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Re: 989 The Flavor of Green Tea over Rice

#7 Post by zedz » Wed May 15, 2019 5:23 pm

I think this is one of Ozu's best comedies: the relationship between the spouses is beautifully observed and some scenes even manage a slightly screwball kick. It'll be great to finally have this in HD.

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Re: 989 The Flavor of Green Tea over Rice

#8 Post by dda1996a » Wed May 15, 2019 5:37 pm

It doesn't sound like much of a comedy from the description though...?

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HinkyDinkyTruesmith
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Re: 989 The Flavor of Green Tea over Rice

#9 Post by HinkyDinkyTruesmith » Wed May 15, 2019 5:38 pm

The comedy in it, which is very easy to miss, is like the comedy in Late Autumn rather than Good Morning.

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movielocke
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Re: 989 The Flavor of Green Tea over Rice

#10 Post by movielocke » Wed May 15, 2019 5:57 pm

excellent, been wanting this for years! It's one of my favorites of the unreleased Ozu films.

And the last mainline Ozu new release was nine years ago, July of 2010! so about time they got around to releasing more of his films!

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Michael Kerpan
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Re: 989 The Flavor of Green Tea over Rice

#11 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed May 15, 2019 7:13 pm

This is, in part, a re-make of What the Lady Forgot, crossed with a war-time script that the censors (rather mystifyingly) nixed. Plenty of humor in this, mixed with some serious moments. It has what is surely the "sexiest" (albeit not the least bit salacious) scene in any (surviving) Ozu film. Up until now, all home video releases of this have looked pretty mediocre (worse than Ozu films from the same general period). I hope they manage to get this to look significantly better (but not sure how this can happen unless a much better source has been found).

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Re: 989 The Flavor of Green Tea over Rice

#12 Post by Cold Bishop » Wed May 15, 2019 8:21 pm

It’s less a comedy of belly laughs than it is for its amiable atmosphere... which of course makes the moment when the chasm between the couple finally tears that more effective. I’m not the biggest Ozu fan, but I enjoyed this.

What Did the Lady Forget? is much more of a screwball comedy, and might indeed be the better film of the two. Then again, I like the energy of 30s Ozu more than the quiet simplicity of his post-war stuff.

I’m curious which scene you had in mind Michael?

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Re: 989 The Flavor of Green Tea over Rice

#13 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed May 15, 2019 8:29 pm

The next to last scene -- in the kitchen at night: husband, wife, pickle jar, etc. There is also a similarly functioning matching scene in WDtLF. I love both these films pretty equally.

I wonder if the long scene of the wife alone on the train (thinking, not thinking?) provided any inspiration for the similar (but even longer scene) in Rivette's Secret défense

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Re: 989 The Flavor of Green Tea over Rice

#14 Post by FrauBlucher » Wed May 15, 2019 8:33 pm

I saw this when it toured last year. It looks lovely. The humor is subtle in an everyday life kind of way, like when people are funny without trying. It has become one of my favorites from Ozu

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Re: 989 The Flavor of Green Tea over Rice

#15 Post by artfilmfan » Wed May 15, 2019 8:50 pm

Going by the number of times I’ve seen each of these two films, I must say I like What The Lady Forgot more. I wish it had been restored as well.

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zedz
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Re: 989 The Flavor of Green Tea over Rice

#16 Post by zedz » Wed May 15, 2019 9:46 pm

Michael Kerpan wrote:
Wed May 15, 2019 8:29 pm
The next to last scene -- in the kitchen at night: husband, wife, pickle jar, etc.
That was the scene I had in mind when I mentioned the slight screwball vibe. The way the two actors work around each other in that scene has an Old Hollywood physical charm. Now that you mention it, it is pretty sexy.

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Re: 989 The Flavor of Green Tea over Rice

#17 Post by bottled spider » Thu May 16, 2019 9:37 am

Donald Richie, from his book OZU, on the original, wartime script for FOGTOR:
After his return, he wrote a good script, The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice (Ochazuke no Aji) It was never produced, though he used the title later for a different picture. It was about a man and wife who take the customary final meal together before he leaves for the front. Rather than customary rich ceremonial food, they decide on a dish that is among the most simple, the most Japanese. It was to have been a gentle, intimate, reflective film, filled with observations of Japanese character in times of stress. it was rejected by the Cencorship Ofiice of the Home Ministry, which passed on all film scripts before production and refused many. The censors declared the script fumajime ("unserious"), and perhaps it was by the standards of the day. "Dramatic art must forget the old individulaistic and class attitudes," said an editorial in a leading magazine, "and mus begin to realize that it has a cultural role to perform in the total program of our new national consciousness"

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Re: 989 The Flavor of Green Tea over Rice

#18 Post by bottled spider » Thu May 16, 2019 9:46 am

And from the same source, Richie again on the actual movie:
About this film Ozu has said: "I took this film out of the drawer where it had been since I'd written it, after the Army wouldn't let me make it. I took it out because there was no longer any reason for it to stay there. Because the times had changed, I rewrote it." He rewrote it to such an extent that it is unrecognizable, and the sharing of the ochazuke (green tea over rice) at the end loses its original point. It merely means that the somewhat snobbish wife is coming round to her husband's simple and popular tastes. "I wanted to show something about a man from the viewpoint of a woman, but this film wasn't very well made". Ozu rarley attempted to graft new materila onto old in this way, which was wise since his grafting efforts were rarely successful. This film has many admirable things in it, so many that some people prefer it to his finer pictures. But it does not have the perfection of Late Spring or Tokyo Story.

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Re: 989 The Flavor of Green Tea over Rice

#19 Post by Michael Kerpan » Thu May 16, 2019 10:32 am

Does Richie actually miss the fact that almost half the scenario is borrowed from What Did the Lady Forget?

While I might agree that FoGToR doesn't quite rise to the level of Tokyo Story or Late Spring, Richie seems to have given this a rather unfair brush-off.

My main criticism of the film is that it really doesn't explore the husband's character, but rather makes him quite uncomplicatedly "good" -- which is quite possibly sort of a meta-cinematic joke by Ozu, because the actor (Shin Saburi) was most known for playing rather "peppery" (or even sarcastic, bordering on mean) characters (his roles in Toda Family and Equinox Flower were much more his norm). Michiyo Kogure (playing the wife), on the other hand, gets to play an unusually complex role (much more complex than the wife in WDtLF).

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Re: 989 The Flavor of Green Tea over Rice

#20 Post by Satori » Sat May 18, 2019 7:10 am

That Richie quote does seem rather unfair. It has been awhile since I've seen this, but it seems to me that the titular dish wasn't just about the wife's "snobbishness" and the husband's "popular taste." These tastes are a reflection of their more fundamental (socio-economic) class difference. While I suppose the final scene is less emotionally charged than it would have been in the wartime version, I remember it being rather moving. It also lends additional credence to the claim above that this is in part screwball comedy, as love overcoming class difference is the fundamental theme of that genre!

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Re: 989 The Flavor of Green Tea over Rice

#21 Post by bottled spider » Sat May 18, 2019 5:02 pm

Haven't seen it myself yet. I'd say Richie tended to have a steep gradient in his likes and dislikes for a given director, based on his Kurosawa and Ozu books.

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Re: 989 The Flavor of Green Tea over Rice

#22 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sat May 18, 2019 9:31 pm

One wonders whether he had even seen some of the less common Ozu films more than once when he wrote his book (as it wasn't all that easy to see Ozu's films at that point). Kurosawa's films, on the other hand, were probably much easier to re-see...

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Re: 989 The Flavor of Green Tea over Rice

#23 Post by artfilmfan » Sat May 18, 2019 10:41 pm

Oh, let the man RIP. After all, in his own way, didn’t he help expose Ozu’ films to Western audiences? Let’s be grateful for that. I don’t see unfairness in the quote above. I agree in the assessment that The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice does not have the perfection of Late Spring and Tokyo Story.

In my early days of exposure to Ozu’ films, I felt fortunate to have access to resources on his films which greatly enriched my fondness of the films. Among those resources were Bordwell’s book, peerpee’s website, and Richie’s book. And thanks also go to discussions with Michael K on this forum.

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Re: 989 The Flavor of Green Tea over Rice

#24 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sun May 19, 2019 12:25 am

Not an _attack_ on Richie -- simply noting that when the book was written, people (even one with good connections) did not usually have the ability to watch and re-watch movies. They watched something (perhaps only once) and made some notes -- and that was that. The problems with Richie's writings is not Richie -- it is the fact that many things he wrote long ago are lazily treated as "gospel" by many even today (even though Richie may have issued corrections later).

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Re: 989 The Flavor of Green Tea over Rice

#25 Post by artfilmfan » Sun May 19, 2019 10:36 am

Ah, the “gospel” according to D. Richie. It is still an interesting and enjoyable read nevertheless. If I were to do it over again, I would still read Bordwell’s book, the materials at peerpee’ website, and Richie’ book. These are/were valuable resources, not for researching purpose to write my own book or teach a film class or anything like that, but for a simpler reason of enjoying the films.
Last edited by artfilmfan on Sun May 19, 2019 1:16 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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