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Depressing art for depressing times

March 4, 2009

Yesterday I was really glad to find snow had cancelled my work day. I spent the day watching Tokyo Story, which was really great.  When people say the movie’s pace is patient, they aren’t kidding though.  I’m not saying that bothered me – I think patient storytelling is really underappreciated in today’s world.  While my MTV generation brain may have been begging for a little more action, I really enjoyed having the time to sit and think about what was going on and make sense of it all.  (I also recently watched the first Godfather, which I think was REALLY good at this).

I also think a movie like Tokyo Story deserves an updating much more than a number of dumb hollywood movies.  The topic – the children of elderly parents being too self absorbed to entertain and take care of their parents – seems like it would have so many more possibilities in the 21st century than it did in post-World War II rebuilding Japan.  Then again, its possible that some people would just see that as the normal order to things.

I was recommended Tokyo Story after telling a friend I really enjoyed Ikiru.  I guess the connection is that they’re both depressing Japanese movies.  The expected connection in my head though, was that Ikiru takes place during the cold snowy season in Japan.  Since I had off from work because of snow, I figured I’d watch another depressing movie where it snows.  It turns out that Tokyo Story is actually set during the hot Japanese summer, so that was a bit of a bummer.

I have a clip of the overture for Ikiru on my computer, but I cna’t figure out how to upload it.  Maybe I’ll figure it out later.

I do think that its interesting how I gravitate towards artwork with a little more gravitas when I develop a certain outlook on the world.  Its been on my mind when thinking about the upcoming premiere of the Watchmen (both the movie’s release and the era that the original work was written in).  It also crossed my mind while watching and thinking about the state of a defeated Japan in the early 1950’s.  I was also listening to some of  Bartok’s works just before World War I and World War II (specifically his String Quartets from these times) and they just seemed so painful. 

Then again, when I think Great Depression, I think Jazz.  So I guess it goes both ways.

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