Floating Weeds (1959)


Third time with Ozu, after Tokyo Story and Late Spring. Couldn’t find a satisfying poster; this one seems to foreground the kind of melodrama that Ozu sidelines.

Convinced you cannot tire of this visual style. Counted 0 shots with camera movement. Every shot is either square to its subject or at the Ozu angle (thought of Möbius) – faces obscured, emotions hidden. Perspectives are discontinuously recycled. (Komajuro and Kimisho playing chess) Dialogue is square shot/reverse shot. Endless expressibility within given formula (easy to make layman’s comparisons with other Japanese art).

The most dynamic and textured of Ozu’s films for me: drifting drama is roughened with scenes of real tension and even violent outbursts. Ko and Kayo distraught in the theatre’s cellar; he strikes and they ping back to vertical and opposite like weebles – likewise the confrontative domestic conclusion. Disruption heightened by the natural reversion to order. Ozu’s comic touch is more on show here too: a young boy actor breaking character to collect tributes thrown onstage; Ko cigarette wriggling away from a match proffered by Sumiko as he tries to maintain antipathy.

Leaving and returning. The troupe’s first visit in 12 years, since The Surrender. Sense of a lost generation, disruption of the unexpected return. Each character with their own ex-centricities. (Floating Weeds)

I want a lookbook of Ozu’s Mondrian interiors. I want a supercut of Ozu’s characters going up and down stairs. (Every Frame A Painting on Kurosawa’s movement, but Ozu is a real master: domestic rhythms and delicate individual discrepancies [and he can do rain])

Seeing Ki on the steps watching Ko argue with S somehow put Through A Glass Darkly into my mind, Harriet Andersson haunted by the spider god. Central youths taunted with withheld information, fluctuating agency disturbing balances. In fact ship only at the beginning and Ozu trains only at the end – for the most part FW is likewise a film about entrapment, the TS heat building the pressure in a closed loop. (comparing the pier scenes TS and here  – former couple lost and wistful, latter contemplative and isolated)

Easy to make theatrical comparisons but the layabouts in bordello scheming mutiny does feel like a subplot; layers of dramatic irony. Wending and winding of plot rather than slow revelation and development of motivations, as in LS, or steady panning across a story, as in TS. Externality and observation. (the theatre itself has a quiet but Paradiso charm)

Strange, loose ending. Duties vs desires. The snowglobe shaken and most must make do and mend.

Ozu in colour is a treat.



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