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An Inn In Tokyo (free)

  • Vilas Hall 821 University Avenue Madison, WI, 53706 United States (map)
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UW Cinematheque's fall "Silents, Please!" series, which has showcased a number of shorts and features from around the world, will wrap up with a rare 35mm screening of the great Yasujirō Ozu's 1935 film An Inn In Tokyo. From the late 1920s through the early 1960s, the Japanese director steadily developed his artistic sensibility with a continual focus on the dynamics of the close-knit family and its generational tensions. While under contract at Shochiku Studios in the 1930s, Ozu tried on many hats and experimented with more genre-rich tropes in jaunty comedies, tender melodramas, and the proto-noir/crime drama Dragnet Girl (1933), a previous Cinematheque presentation. However, the working-class struggles at the heart of An Inn In Tokyo feel more liberated from studio-imposed restrictions, and therefore more urgent and resonant. The subsequent decades have shown Ozu to be progenitor to the Neorealist movement that would emerge in 1940s post-war Europe (perhaps best represented by Roberto Rossellini's Italian war trilogy). The landscapes of An Inn In Tokyo may not prove to be as harrowing or physically ruptured, but the narrative involving an unemployed and homeless father, Kinhachi (Takeshi Sakamoto), is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit. Without the proper means to support his his two sons, Zenko and Masako (Tomio Aoki and Takayuki Suematsu), he finds himself wandering the industrial flatlands of Kōtō City in Tokyo while his sons attempt to catch stray dogs for reward money so they may eat and afford shelter. In a fortuitous turn, Kinhachi runs into his old friend Otsune (Chôko Iida), whose soulful benevolence promises a more stable future for the displaced family. Improvising pianist David Drazin will not be providing live musical accompaniment as he did for the November screenings in this series, but the film will be presented with its original synchronized orchestral soundtrack. —Grant Phipps