7.9/10
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Nagaya shinshiroku (1947)

In post-war Japan, a man brings a lost boy to his tenement. No one wants to take the child for even one night; finally, a sour widow, Tané, does. The next day, complaining, she takes the ... See full summary »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Chôko Iida ...
Hôhi Aoki ...
Eitarô Ozawa ...
Father
Mitsuko Yoshikawa ...
Kikuko
Reikichi Kawamura ...
Tamekichi
Hideko Mimura ...
Okiku
...
Tashiro
...
Kihachi Kawayoshi
Eiko Takamatsu ...
Tome
Taiji Tonoyama ...
Photographer
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Yûichi Kôno
Seiji Nishimura
Fujiyo Osafune
Yoshino Tani
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Storyline

In post-war Japan, a man brings a lost boy to his tenement. No one wants to take the child for even one night; finally, a sour widow, Tané, does. The next day, complaining, she takes the boy to his neighborhood and finds his father has gone to Tokyo; it seems the boy has been abandoned. Tané wants to leave him there, but he follows her home. The next morning he disappears fearing a scolding after wetting the bed. Tané realizes she likes having him there, searches for him, and keeps him when he's found that night. Within days, she considers him her son. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Plot Keywords:

boy | japan | post war | widow | tenement | See All (16) »

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Drama

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Release Date:

20 May 1947 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Historia de un vecindario  »

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Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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User Reviews

 
Paging Mo'Nique
16 August 2010 | by (New York, New York) – See all my reviews

It wasn't just the use of "Precious" in one of the subtitles -this Ozu film had me thinking in Hollywood mode -wouldn't it be a perfect remake vehicle for Mo'Nique to followup her success in PRECIOUS? This odd way of thinking was not as far out as I first imagined in the early reels -by film's end Ozu had demonstrated a filmmaking format quite similar to that used by Lee Daniels all these decades later.

With such radically different styles it is not obviously apparent, but both films are in essence preachy social statements masquerading as entertainment. As others have mentioned, post-war censorship may have forced this on Ozu, just as having Oprah (not to mention Tyler Perry) and the burden of such a famous best-selling book caused Daniels' film to be so heavy-handed in the Western Union department.

It fascinated me that the settings, dissimilar on the surface (post-war devastated Japan, modern New York City with its suffering underclass) had much in common. The irascible old heroine, who we come to like in spite of first impressions a couple of reels before she becomes a true softie is a tailor-made role for Mo'Nique, softening the rough, rough edges of her legendary PRECIOUS turn. We never got to like her character in PRECIOUS since she was such a monster of an abuser, but we did come to understand her.

Choko Iida is masterful as Tane, who unwillingly takes the lost boy into her care, only to fall in love with him in time-honored Silent Era Pathos fashion. She does plenty of schtick, but keeps it under control in a way Mo'Nique could benefit from, after viewing this movie. Co-star Chishu Ryu, most recognizable cast member due to his classic work in so many famous Ozu films, gets to strut his stuff in a memorable scene leading all his friends in a chant/song with elements of a sea shanty to it -very well-recorded, as is all the dialog, in direct sound.

While this is clearly a minor work in his canon, Ozu's patented visual compositions were a treat throughout, and I especially enjoyed the scene of the two protagonists at a lonely beach (similar to the post-war malaise beach of the all-time classic Gerard Philipe film UNE SI JOLIE PETITE PLAGE, only not as gloomy), which suggested several Japanese paintings I've seen depicted on the nation's postage stamps. When our heroine attempts to abandon the boy there, Ozu so subtly injects his only moving camera shots of the entire film - a lesson to current music-video-addled directors on the power of using camera movements sparingly and only when necessary.

Film missed perfection for me due to its false ending -there is a wonderful buildup and resolution which cried out to be the finish, but is followed by a tacked-on twist ending (not as bad as is done in so many modern horror films, but still way too gimmicky) that tried to make for a bittersweet resolution plus that all-important social commentary on the plight of orphans and kids on their own post-war.


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