LACMA’s last picture show: Ozu’s “Late Autumn” on July 30 2


There are still several wonderful films between now and then, but for your calendar’s purposes, one date stands out.

The final screening of LACMA’s weekend classic film program, begun 41 years ago and overseen by Ian Birnie for the last 15, features Yasujiro Ozu’s “Late Autumn” (1962). That’s on Saturday, July 30, 2011.

In his program note setting up the film, reprinted below, you’ll note Birnie’s inclusion of the word “heart” in the first sentence. This indicates why so many of us love his screenings. Take it away, Ian:

Japanese cinema occupies a special place in my heart so I was gratified that every program we mounted including single revivals (Tokyo Twilight, The Story of Late Chrysanthemums) attracted large and dedicated fans. In addition to two series of Japanese classics curated by Susan Sontag, the department presented major retrospectives devoted to three of Japan’s greatest filmmakers: Kenji Mizoguchi, Nagisa Oshima, and in 2004 Yasujiro Ozu who remains in a class by himself.

Like The River, Ozu’s late color masterpiece is steeped in nostalgia and the acceptance of life’s disappointments; and its tale of a widow who urges her single daughter to marry and leave home marks the passage of time. No plot summary can convey the harmonious achievement of Ozu’s unique style of filmmaking: the geometric framing of the shots, the musical rhythm and repetition of the scenes, the muted color palette, and the restrained performances of actors like Setsuko Hara as the mother and Chishu Ryu as a family friend all magically combine to produce a work of profound insight and compassion.

LACMA’s Weekend Classic Film Series: Celebrating Classic Cinema: Curator and Audience Favorites | Late Autumn | Saturday Oct 30, 2011 7:30 pm

2 thoughts on “LACMA’s last picture show: Ozu’s “Late Autumn” on July 30

  1. Joshua Ireland Jul 28,2011 2:33 am

    I have Mr. Birnie to thank for seeing my first Ozu film, in 2009. This will be my second Ozu.

    Due to the digital revolution I own DVDs of practically all of the movies that I know and like. I can see old movies on Turner Classics that are new to me and that I would never have had a chance to see otherwise. And I can watch them on my flat screen TV almost as if it were a movie theater experience. So there are positives in this changing world for movie lovers. But to lose the good taste of an Ian Birnie, a Ron Haver, as a guide, is irreplaceable.

  2. Samantha Jul 27,2011 3:26 am

    So jealous of everyone who got to see this film on the big screen! Lovely, quiet, seamless perfection in amazing color. If only new cinema knew such restraint in palette.

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