Tokyo Chorus

"Excellent"

Tokyo Chorus Review


The earliest of three silent comedies directed by Japanese master Yasujiro Ozu and released by The Criterion Collection, 1931's Tokyo Chorus is one of many early Ozu films that clearly telegraph all the thematic concerns he would tackle in dozens of subsequent films while also showing off the very particular techniques that have fascinated students of cinema for decades.

In this simple tale, young and insouciant insurance executive Shinji Okajima (Tokihiko Okada) gets himself fired when he berates his boss for badly treating one of his colleagues. In typical Ozu fashion, there's a bit of slapstick in the argument. Watch as the two men poke each other with Japanese fans with steadily increasing force. It's bad news for Shinji because, like America, Japan is feeling the effects of the Great Depression (Shinji even cracks a joke about Herbert Hoover), and jobs are scarce.

Now concerned about money, Shinji goes back on his promise to buy his son Chounan (Hideo Sugawara) a bicycle. When Shinji shows up with a cheap scooter instead, Chounan is outraged and calls his father a big liar, an insult that earns him an enthusiastic spanking. Mom (Emiko Yagumo), who's busy with their two other kids, urges Shinji to make things right by buying the bike he promised his son. Issues of trust between parents and children is a theme that Ozu revisits throughout his career.

In order to keep the cash coming in, Shinji takes on the humiliating task of passing out restaurant fliers around town--much to the embarrassment of his wife--but when their daughter gets sick and the hospital bill comes due, he takes an even more drastic step, selling his wife's treasured kimono collection without telling her. In a brilliant Ozu moment, the family plays a fast round of four-way patty-cake as an amazing range of emotions passes across Shinji's wife's face: anger at what he's done, sadness about what she's lost, relief that her daughter looks happy and healthy, and then joy in realizing that they're all together no matter what.

All throughout, Okada is a delight to watch. He's as expressive as Chaplin and is a great physical comedian. (It's sad to learn he died just three years after making the movie at the very young age of 31.) Ozu doesn't give the Okajima family a traditional happy ending, but he wraps things up warmly with a celebration of loyalty among friends, people helping others even when they don't really have the means to do so, and families sticking together through tough times.

Aka Tokyo no kôrasu.

The rest of the band couldn't make it.



Tokyo Chorus

Facts and Figures

Run time: 90 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 1st December 1982

Distributed by: Criterion Collection

Production compaines: Shochiku

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

IMDB: 7.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: Tokihiko Okada as Shinji Okajima, Emiko Yagumo as Tsuma Sugako, Hideo Sugawara as Sono Chounan, Hideko Takamine as Sono Choujo, Tatsuo Saitô as Omura Sensei, Chôko Iida as Sensei no tusma, Takeshi Sakamoto as Rou-Shain Yamada, Reikô Tani as Shachou, Kenichi Miyajima as Hisho, Isamu Yamaguchi as Kaisha no Douryou

Also starring: ,

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Office Christmas Party Movie Review

Office Christmas Party Movie Review

Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman reunite with The Switch directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck...

Snowden Movie Review

Snowden Movie Review

Here's another remarkable biopic from Oliver Stone, who has used all-star casts and intensely pointed...

The Birth of a Nation Movie Review

The Birth of a Nation Movie Review

This true story from 19th century America feels eerily relevant today in its depiction of...

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

An unusually realistic teen movie, this drama gets deep under the skin of its characters,...

Bleed for This Movie Review

Bleed for This Movie Review

This is such a ripping true story that it can't help but grab hold of...

Moana Movie Review

Moana Movie Review

In a clear echo of Frozen, this Disney animated adventure centres on a fiercely independent...

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

The 2003 comedy Bad Santa is a holiday classic that skilfully mixes gross-out humour with...

Advertisement
Allied Movie Review

Allied Movie Review

There's a terrific script at the heart of this World War II thriller, with a...

A United Kingdom Movie Review

A United Kingdom Movie Review

Based on a powerful true story from the late 1940s, this drama is packed with...

Indignation Movie Review

Indignation Movie Review

Philip Roth's layered novels are a challenge for filmmakers (see also 2003's The Human Stain...

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

It's been five years since the last Harry Potter movie, and J.K. Rowling has been...

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Yet another bonkers thriller starring Nicolas Cage, this trashy crime comedy comes from director Paul...

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

"Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall" is a DVD...

Arrival Movie Review

Arrival Movie Review

This sci-fi drama has an enjoyably brain-bending plot that leaves the audience almost stunned with...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.