Floating Weeds (Ukigusa) - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Floating Weeds (Ukigusa) Reviews

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February 25, 2012
Yasujiro Ozu's cinematography and directing style fascinate me. The utterly unmovable camera is such a strange way to tell a story. It's almost like watching a comic book with its tight borders, except that the characters within those borders are allowed to move, enter and exit freely, yet the borders never move, as if utterly uninterested in their comings and goings.

So yeah, visually this is a great movie, masterpiece even. The viewing angles change from sweeping scenery shots to extreme close-ups where the characters stare right into the camera, which at some points creates a feeling of uneasiness, but that works for the movie's favour. Plus, all the colours, all the traditional Japanese clothing, all the over-the-top facial expression on Komajuro's (Ganjiro Nakamura) face, they all come together to form a movie that's definitely nice to look at.

Unfortunately the story itself is a bit boring. It's not that bad, not really, but I just couldn't get all that much into it. A group comes to town, the meet some people, some secrets are revealed, there's drama, there's hurt feelings. It's all very basic, and while the actors do manage to get into their roles and give good performances, I was left expecting just a bit more. A new twist, especially brilliant speech, something touching, but nope... nothing.

So yeah, it's not a bad film. It's actually rather good, great even for those that will appreciate it for its visual style and simple, yet classic story. The latter just wasn't my cup of tea in this case, unfortunately.
½ January 17, 2012
This is an interesting film that Roger Ebert considers one of his Top Ten all-time faves. It is directed by master filmmaker Yosujiro Ozu("Tokyo Story) and is actually a remake of one of his earlier silent works.

It follows an acting troupe who is visiting a small town where the group leader has an ex-lover as well as their son who know him as an Uncle. The story is interesting, and is directed in Ozu's usual style of static shots with a lot of close-ups. A lot of people praise him for this style, which is the antithesis to his counter-part Akira Kurosawa who favours a lot of action and moving shots. For me, the style didn't work on this one. The film has a very slow pace and I found it hard to get into.

I can see why a lot of people hold it in such high regard, but it just didn't fully work for me, but I may give it another try in the future. This one is for film buffs and lovers of Japanese cinema!
½ January 15, 2012
i think better than the original
½ December 31, 2011
An actor (Ganjuro Nakamara) returns from his acting career to his small hometown village along the shore to be with his child and the mother. However, the child, who is now a grown man, refers to him as his live-in uncle, with the belief that his father passed away when he was very young. Unfortunately, when the actor returns, a woman, claiming to be his mistress wants to ruin his life by exposing him for the fake that he really his and wrecking his relationship with both his son and the mother. Yasujiro Ozu's "Floating Weeds" is not as good as his 1953 work "Tokyo Story," but it is a very interesting character study and examination of life surrounding theatre work in small town Japan. Though the film runs at a fairly slow pace, the set pieces, bizarre photography, and performances make up for the film's minor shortcomings. Very well acted and also, a visual treat.
Note: Though this irrelevant to the review, notice how "Tokyo Story" has 37 reviews and no consensus while "Floating Weeds" has 20 reviews and a consensus. Huh?! Just like to point out Rotten Tomatoes' incompetence.
September 18, 2011
A great film, with an unforgettable finale.
August 18, 2011
The movies of Yasujiro Ozu are not for everyone. His films tend to center on the small dramas of families, and he routinely sacrifices "traditional" rules of film for the sake of his special brand of artistic composition. Floating Weeds is one of his few color movies, a remake of an earlier black and white movie. The colors are vibrant, and the switch to color makes his oft used frame within a frame technique more obvious and beautiful.
August 5, 2011
The 3rd film I have seen of Ozu. Even though I still think Tokyo Story is his greatest, this one is not far behind. Probably, my favorite scene is the "lighting of the cigarette" in the near end of the film. I really loved the music score, and the "argument in the rain" scene!
½ March 15, 2011
My Ozu ratings may be more abouit my mood at the time of watching than the work itself.
½ October 29, 2010
It's quite similar to his other films. What sets it apart are its Tati-esque music, and wonderful weather-torn sets shot in a way that sets the town as a major character.
September 28, 2010
Sep 2010 - It is of course very important to see this in contrast to the earlier, silent and black and white version of the movie made by Ozu. The story also has moved to the more modern period. The are certain dimensions added to the movie which makes it richer than the original. In particular the conflict between the generations is more apparent here. Also the colors are so fantastically chosen that despite my love for the expressionist scenes in the earlier version, I loved this one. There are more of the short stories beside the main story and in particular we see and understand other members of the troupe. There is however something that I missed hear and it was the theatrical, stylish and dark atmosphere of the earlier version. I think this matches the story more and for example Ozu's humor in his later movies is not so at home with this story.
September 4, 2010
4 - To say "you've seen one Yasujiro Ozu film, you've seen them all" is actually to say they are all extremely good. All his movies capture the feel of the time in which they are set, are beautifully acted, and lovingly put together. This one is no exception. It's an eloquent drama - perhaps stronger in tone and passion than other Ozu movies - which sees the leader of an acting troupe revisit after many years the town where his nearly adult son (born of a mistress) lives, except his son believes him to be an uncle. As the actor's young wife becomes aware of the situation, their relationship is torn apart by jealousy, but will love and forgiveness prevail in the end after all? Classic. See it.
½ August 31, 2010
A remake of his earlier effort, Ozu doesn't really shake up the story at all. But with a color palette for masterfullly composed shots, and sound for dialogue and music, he has more tools to play with. Worth seeing.
June 17, 2010
wow, how i love the beautiful scenes in it.... and the take is matchless... great... four and a half stars will be it...
½ June 4, 2010
It's not the most interesting story I've seen even this afternoon/evening, but it is packaged neatly by a directorial legend, so people love it.
June 1, 2010
Beautiful and vivid...Ozu brilliantly constructs a drama of sheer perfection resulting in an epic meditation on human relationships.
May 19, 2010
Ozu is the slowest and most serene of all directors. He fashions the film in a tranquil, everyday majesty that flows like a river and unfolds not from plot, but from character. Revisiting "Floating Weeds" is like being re-assured by friends after a hard day.
May 18, 2010
Slow Going, but Worth the Trip

Today, I rediscovered how very, very much I wish I got Turner Classic Movies. I don't read their schedule, because it would just depress me; I would trade AMC, all my sports channels, all my shopping channels, all my "music" channels (now VH1 doesn't seem to be loving things anymore), and Fox News for it. Probably others, really; I don't watch much TV these days. However, as you may recall if you're a regular reader, we did [i]Hail, the Conquering Hero![/i] Sunday night. It's a charming piece of comedic World War II propaganda from Preston Sturges. Today, I was asked if I'd seen it; it was on TCM Sunday night, and the person asking was interested in my opinion of it. Now, I don't mind having made it a Netflix selection; I tend to watch six of their movies a week on a three-at-a-time plan, so that comes to, what, less than a dollar a movie? Not bad, really. However, I know with terrible certainty that not even KCTS will play an Ozu movie, and while I don't know if TCM does subtitles or not, the odds are better.

Komajuro Arashi (Ganjiro Nakamura) is a traveling player with a minor company in post-war Japan. He is not young, and his company is not successful. Years before, when he was younger, he visited the small town he visits here and had some sort of relationship--we don't get a lot of details, really--with sake bar owner Oyoshi (Haruko Sugimura). They had a son, Kiyoshi Homma (Hiroshi Kawaguchi), together, but they have told Kiyoshi all his life that Komajuro is his uncle, because he cannot bear the thought of his son's knowing that his father is someone so unsavoury. Komajuro is now in a relationship with the lovely Sumiko (Machiko Kyō), an actress of the troupe. She finds out about Oyoshi and Kiyoshi, and she is horribly jealous. She decides to get back at Komajuro by sending Kayo (Ayako Wakao), she of slightly loose morals, to seduce the boy.

The way women are portrayed in this movie is slightly uncomfortable. Yes, Komajuro's relationship with Oyoshi is, by this point, quiet and comfortable--they are old friends now. They share a pride in their son. And I guess it's true that, at the time Kiyoshi would have been conceived, there were a lot of children being conceived to unmarried parents, and at that parents who would never in this world see each other again. But Sumiko takes out her anger and jealousy on, let's face it, an innocent. True, hurting Kiyoshi hurts Komajuro. It's just that it's a horrible way to do it. It's not Kiyoshi's fault that his parents are still on good terms, for one thing. And then there's Kayo. Yes, by the end of the film, she's fallen in love with Kiyoshi. On the other hand, she is quite happy to seduce him for money. At that, Sumiko was, before she became an actress, a prostitute. I have no problem with Oyoshi. It's just that other two women have, at least initially, no qualms with using their sexuality to get what they want.

It is a beautiful film, of course. It's one of Roger's favourites, and I can see why. It's a very quiet film. Director Yasujiro Ozu is unafraid to pause for a moment and just let us watch the rain fall. There is that comfort between the two old lovers, the peace that doesn't require talking to express itself. I didn't much get into the story itself, but I could see it unfolding. There was quiet, and most directors are afraid of that. Even in its angry moments, there are pauses, and the rain falls. (Actually, it doesn't rain that much in the movie, but I like rain.) Ozu's actors are good enough to let emotion play on their faces without having to talk all the time, move all the time, to let us know what's behind their eyes. I was talking to Moses recently about what makes a great director, and the ability to get performances like this out of your actors is really the first thing on my list and why a lot of popular directors aren't great.

I spent most of the movie wondering who Kiyoshi thought his father was. He's not really a boy; he works in the post office and is saving up for college. Even if he were, though, the timeline doesn't permit him to be young enough not to have asked the question. After all, it has been many years since Komajuro was in the village. If it had been maybe six, and that was when the son was conceived, that might have been possible. A very small boy might be excused for not considering his father. However, he had to have been told something. When Sumiko, in anger, asks Kiyoshi that dangerous question, I quite wanted to know the answer. I assume Komajuro claims to be Oyoshi's brother. If he claimed instead to be the father's brother, it would surprise me to find out Kiyoshi had never considered the possibility that it wasn't true. I suppose, given the timing, he might be told that his father died in the war without its seeming improbable. It's just a thought I had that I wasn't sure the movie did.
½ March 26, 2010
While this feels a bit slight for later Ozu, it's still a remarkable little film. The atmospheric shots of the fishing village are wondrous. The depth of field in his compositions is often surprising, with characters appearing or disappearing into passageways not always immediately visible. The characters are remarkably human, while Ozu's presentation is typically restrained. The film's easy pace masks the deep emotion running through the characters, but heightens the satisfying conclusion.
February 28, 2010
As film critic Roger Ebert famously said, "Sooner or later, everyone who loves movies comes to Ozu." I, along with many others, was introduced to Ozu through his film "Tokyo Story" which I still consider to be one of my favorite films ever made. "Floating Weeds" is merely a tick behind it.

The film, remade from an even earlier silent film by Ozu, is about a traveling theater group near the end of their line. Funds and energy are at their limits and the leader of the group "coincidentally" winds up in the same town he'd met a women in years previous and had a child with. Not only that, but the child, now a young adult doesn't know who his father is and believes the leader of the group to be his Uncle. Well, the story plays out from here in true Ozu fashion.

The film is simply gorgeous to look at. One of the few Ozu films to be made in color will have you wishing he would've been able to make more. The characters are interesting enough to hold most peoples attention, but this is not for everyone. If you're interested in investigating art-house cinema, Japanese culture, or just love movies, I certainly recommend it. For an extra treat, I recommend a viewing of the Criterion Collection DVD with audio commentary by Roger Ebert himself, very informative...
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