I was asked to do this by a friend on facebook, and having done it. It seems silly not to share more widely: So here it goes:
Tokyo Story (Yasujirô Ozu, Japan, 1953):My first choice, almost always my first choice, and what I measure so much of cinema against is Ozu’s Tokyo Story. I always break up at the end: the kindness, the resignation, the understanding, the wisdom: the mixture of motivations and feelings, so beautifully evoked within a liminal zone where things are not stated but clearly understood; and expressed in a way that makes it feel true and beautiful but also mysterious. Plus I just love looking at Setsuko Hara.
My first Naruse film and it is a revelation: an exquisitely beautiful movie. The river flows at the beginning and the end. Time moves on. But the world is changing. Business gets the upper hand. Family helps but at a price. A restaurant will take the place of the geisha house. There is no room for geishas in the modern world except on the other, grubbier side, of the river. The performances are very moving, with Haruko Sugimura, the coarse and unfeeling daughter from Tokyo Story (Yasujirō Ozu, Japan, 1953), here a stand-out as a drunken fifty-year old geisha. The compositions are a work of art; and the end, where the maid knows all that the characters sense but don’t yet fully realize, made me well up a little.