Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Best films of 2008

Although I'm still waiting to see Milk, Let the Right One In, Synecdoche, The Wrestler, The Reader, Revolutionary Road, Gran Torino, Changeling and Frost/Nixon, I've seen a lot of very good films this year. Up to now, here are the best:

  • The Curious Tale of Benjamin Button
  • Doubt
  • Slumdog Millionaire
  • Iron Man
  • Wall-E
  • The Visitor
  • The Dark Knight
  • In Bruges
and in a close second:
  • Vicky Kirstina Barcelona
  • Burn after Reading
  • Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
  • Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Who says 2008 wasn't a good year for films?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Best FSF Films

It's the time of year for making lists. 2008 proved a mixed bag for SF films, ending with a disappointing remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still. But the year also brought us the very strong Benjamin Button, the surprisingly good Iron Man, the luminous WALL-E and the DVD of Satoshi Kon's mind-bending Paprika. So in the spirit of year-end lists, and in no particular order, here's my all time top science fiction films:

  • Lost Horizon (1937)
  • Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
  • The Empire Strikes Back
  • Blade Runner
  • Young Frankenstein
  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
  • WALL•E
  • Forbidden Planet
  • Metropolis
  • A Clockwork Orange
  • Aliens
  • The Thing from Another World (1951)
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Children of Men
  • The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
  • The Road Warrior
  • The Terminator
  • Twelve Monkeys
  • The Invisible Man
  • Dark City
  • Paprika
  • Ghost in the Shell
  • The Fifth Element
  • The Matrix
  • Jurassic Park
  • Star Trek II: the Wrath of Khan
and best fantasy films:
  • Wizard of Oz
  • The Fellowship of the Ring
  • The Princess Bride
  • Ugetsu
  • Princess Mononoke
  • Groundhog Day
  • Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
  • Spirited Away
  • Howl's Moving Castle
  • Kiki's Delivery Service
  • My Neighbor Totoro
  • Fantasia
  • Pan's Labyrinth
  • The Curious Tale of Benjamin Button
  • Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory
  • Harvey
  • Field of Dreams
  • Labyrinth
  • The Wolf Man

Sunday, November 30, 2008

1776 by David McCullough

This is a military history of the first full year of the American Revolution, the year the nation was born. Most Americans remember July 4, 1776 for the Declaration of Independence, and they may know that Washington crossed the Delaware on Christmas. But 1776 was an eventful year. Quoting a wide variety of firsthand accounts and letters, McCullough brings a long, costly and difficult year of military campaigns to life. From the words of sources on both sides of the struggle, the Americans and British are humanized.

As much as anything, this is the story of George Washington's on-the-job training as commander of the Continental Army. In covering the three major campaigns of 1776, in Boston, New York and New Jersey, McCullough tells stories of courage, luck, blunders and betrayals. But in the details of battles and the struggles of soldiers, a nation emerged and a national character began to form. Unlikely heroic leaders emerged, like Nathaniel Green and Henry Knox. Their stories are ours; McCullough melds them into a fascinating and important story.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is a film with ambitions, though either the ambitions or their execution are a shade too modest for excellence. Still, this is an enjoyable science fiction teen romance, which almost aspires to be an art film. It's a beautiful film to watch.

The story is a sequel to a novel well known in Japan, and recently released as a manga, The Girl Who Runs Through Time. The original, by author Yasutaka Tsutsui, has been frequently adapted as feature films and TV series. The anime, from director Mamoru Hosoda and art director Nizo Yamamoto, plays out like Run Lola Run meets Whisper of the Heart. Studio Ghibli veteran Yamamoto also did backgrounds for Whisper of the Heart and it shows. Once again, Tokyo streets and parks are infused with so much reality they seem like an additional character in the movie.

Author Tsutsui also wrote the original for the film Paprika, so he shows a pattern of playing with perception, reality and time. There's a lot to like in Girl Who Leapt as the story and character develop. But the resolution could have been more tightly woven -- it feels like the film has one ending too many or one too few, throwing away some of its potential.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Poetry Friday: Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving (from Via Dolorosa)

Could love give strength to thank thee! Love can give
 Strong sorrow heart to suffer: what we bear
 We would not put away, albeit this were
A burden love might cast aside and live.
Love chooses rather pain than palliative,
 Sharp thought than soft oblivion. May we dare
 So trample down our passion and our prayer
That fain would cling round feet now fugitive
And stay them—so remember, so forget,
What joy we had who had his presence yet,
What griefs were his while joy in him was ours
 And grief made weary music of his breath,
As even to hail his best and last of hours
 With love grown strong enough to thank thee, Death?

- Algernon Charles Swinburne

Friday, November 7, 2008

Poetry Friday: Hope

Hope is the Thing with Feathers
by Emily Dickinson

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chilliest land
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Poetry Friday

It's been a long week of administrivia, budgets and politics. Some poetical perspecitve, thanks to E. E. Cummings.

pity this busy monster, manunkind,

not. Progress is a comfortable disease:
your victim (death and life safely beyond)

plays with the bigness of his littleness
-- electrons deify one razorblade
into a mountainrange; lenses extend
unwish through curving wherewhen till unwish
returns on its unself.
A world of made
is not a world of born -- pity poor flesh

and trees, poor stars and stones, but never this
fine specimen of hypermagical

ultraomnipotence. We doctors know

a hopeless case if -- listen: there's a hell
of a good universe next door; let's go

-- E. E. Cummings

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Classic quickies: 49th Parallel

Combining elements of Hitchcockian suspense, propaganda for the war effort, Canadian travelogue and paean to the virtues of the Canadian people, diversity and democracy, the 1941 49th Parallel is both fun and compelling to watch.

This is one of the earlier collaborations of director Michael Powell and screenwriter Emeric Pressburger -- who won an Oscar for this film. It's framed as an effective piece of propaganda aimed squarely at encouraging U.S support for the Allies. As the survivors of a destroyed Nazi submarine work their way from Hudson Bay toward neutral America, they encounter an extensive catalog of Canadian types. The contrast between the simple, generous, honest, diverse and proud North Americans and the arrogant, elitist Nazis is drawn ever more clearly, even as the noose tightens on the fleeing Germans.

Well written, directed and acted by a strong cast including Laurence Olivier, Trevor Howard and Raymond Massey, this release of 49th Parallel is fresh evidence that Criterion DVDs are reviving important films.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Summer movie rundown

Saw a few, missed a bunch (many intentionally). Some thoughts in retrospect:

  • Iron Man - surprisingly light and fun through the first two-thirds, a good super-hero date movie; Robert Downey Jr. is seriously back, part 1
  • Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian - reasonably entertaining kids' fantasy actioner, bit of a disappointment with a slightly mean-spirited feel
  • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - the title indicates a poorly focused Maguffin, which is OK, because we came to see Harrison Ford crack wise and crack his whip, with exciting chases; delivers on expectations, but one hoped it might exceed
  • WALL-E - Pixar hits this one out of the park with charming characters, the awesome animation we expect, audacious story-telling, and a serious science fiction plot
  • Hellboy II: the Golden Army - Benicio Del Toro brings something sort of like Hellboy meets Pan's Labyrinth, with entertaining action and some amazing setpieces -- even if just a little predictable and without the narrative majesty of Pan's
  • Mama Mia! - oddly, I liked this better than the stage show, despite Pierce Brosnan's criminal take on "S.O.S." Meryl Streep seemed to be having fun. and its hard not to like Greek islands
  • Batman: the Dark Knight - compelling and truly dark, perhaps the best superhero film ever, with a haunting performance by Heath Ledger
  • Tropic Thunder - totally politically incorrect lampoon of Hollywood, utterly insensitive and often quite funny; Robert Downey Jr. is seriously back, part 2
  • Vicky Christina Barcelona - entirely lightweight, but with a fine cast; entertaining, well-written, well-acted and attractive fluff. Javier Bardem shows his range as a sensitive romantic artist in contrast with his well-remembered cold-blooded killer in No Country for Old Men. The dialog here is pure Woody Allen, but the Spanish scenery creates a nice departure.

100 Movies, 100 Quotes, 100 Numbers

OK, its not new. But some call this the all-time best Youtube video. I wouldn't attest to that, but this clever compilation from Florida librarian Alonzo Mosley is sure fun.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


WALL-E is a treat to watch. It is cute, funny, horrifying, and touching. WALL-E is the last of the robots that were left to clean up Earth while humanity went on a five year cruise. However, it has been 700 years and WALL-E hasn't come close to making Earth livable again. Enter EVE who changes WALL-E's life forever.

There is little to no dialog for the first half or so of the film, but it still manages to draw you in. WALL-E is probably one of the best movies of the year. It has wonderful characters, a good strong plot, beautiful animation and backgrounds, and it works on enough levels to keep adult sci-fi nerds interested (that would be myself and another certain blogger included). The fate of humanity in WALL-E will hopefully make people take a look at their lives and the way we treat not only the Earth but also our own bodies. The way WALL-E lives should gives us hope and remind us to enjoy the wonder that is our world.

I gotta say that this movie had a theater full of 20 and 30 somethings on the edge of their seats and not making a sound. Go see this movie.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Top American Films

The American Film Institute has created a new list of the top 100 films by creating lists of the top 10 films in 10 different genres. Check out the list on their website. Movie buffs will also enjoy trying their quiz.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Library Journal does Urban Fantasy

Recommended article: the June 1 issue of LJ has a terrific overview of urban fantasy literature: The City Fantastic by Nanette Wargo Donohue. There's an introduction and a fairly extensive annotated bibliography. Sections of the essay include:

  • Introduction
  • Folkloric tradition
  • Vampires, werewolves, & fairies
  • Genre confusion
  • Shape-shifting formats
  • Collection development resources
  • Core titles in two areas (see full article for all titles & annotations)
    • Traditional Urban Fantasy
      • Bull, Emma. War for the Oaks
      • de Lint, Charles. Dreams Underfoot
      • Gaiman, Neil. Neverwhere
    • Contemporary Urban Fantasy
      • Briggs, Patricia. Moon Called
      • Butcher, Jim. Storm Front
      • Hamilton, Laurell K. Guilty Pleasures
      • Harris, Charlaine. Dead Until Dark
      • Harrison, Kim. Dead Witch Walking
      • Vaughn, Carrie. Kitty and the Midnight Hour
  • Web Sites

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Asian Cinema: a Field Guide

This useful reference guide, published in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution, gives a good overview of the scope of Asian cinema and the works of prominent directors. The author, Tom Vick, does Asian film work at the Smithsonian, and this 274 page guide, published in 2007, provides a timely introduction to a subject of increasing interest.

While many Americans are familiar with major Chinese and Japanese film-makers, well established and influential here, other noted artists are less familiar. The book provides general coverage of more familiar subjects, but devotes more individual attention to those about whom less is known. There is also an emphasis on films that are available in the U.S.

Separate chapters deal with China, Japan, India, Hong Kong, Korea, Iran, Taiwan, South & Southeast Asia, and Central Asia & the Middle East. There is a good index and bibliography.

At a time when the world seems smaller, and American attention is often drawn to Asia in negative ways, this book points to another dimension of the many peoples and cultures from Turkey to Japan.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Time travelling

I've been spending a lot of time in the early 19th century lately. Without premeditated intent, I've found a pattern in recent reading and viewing:

  • Desolation Island by Patrick O'Brian (book & audiobook)
  • Sense and Sensibility (PBS Masterpiece TV)
  • The Jane Austen Book Club (DVD)
  • Empire of Ivory by Naomi Novik
Patrick O'Brian's rich legacy of Aubrey/Maturin novels was most famously developed into the film Master and Commander: the Far Side of the World. The story of two friends -- the bluff, hearty, Captain "Lucky" Jack Aubrey, and the Irish-Catalonian naval surgeon, natural historian and spy Stephen Maturin -- follows them through the Napoleonic wars, the War of 1812, and other adventures.

It's been said that O'Brian writes about what the men were doing while Jane Austen's heroines anguished over matrimonial prospects. Indeed the second and third Aubrey/Maturin books humorously and successfully satirize Austen. But O'Brian shines in the painstaking historical detail, the period language, and above all in action sequences. I'm currently in the eighth book of the series, but the sixth, Desolation Island, was the beginning of a three book story arc and contained stirring battles that almost redefine the term "page turner."

O'Brian's work is also well served in audiobooks with the work of excellent narrators, John Lee and Patrick Tull. Each brings different strengths, but both make it a joy to listen. Lee's work on Desolation Island makes it difficult to stop listening, with fine voice characterizations and narrative power.

Sense and Sensibility, a two part-adaptation on PBS' Masterpiece, is one of the finest screen translations of Jane Austen. Written by Andrew Davies, who famously adapted Pride and Prejudice as a mini-series, this new production holds its own with Emma Thompson's wonderful 1995 feature film. Wonderfully produced, cast, acted and filmed with strong direction, this is a must see for Austen fans.

The Jane Austen Book Club, the film of Karen Joy Fowler's novel, is fun and entertaining chick-flick stuff. But with a large ensemble cast, the screenplay does not have room for deep characterizations, and the movie feels light-weight. The cast turns in good performances as a group reads Austen's novels and applies them to personal problems, but the whole seems contrived.

Empire of Ivory, on the other hand, was a pleasant surprise. I read the first books in Naomi Novik's fantasy series awhile back and enjoyed them, but thought they were fairly predictable. The premise is goofily engaging -- what if the British and French employed fighting dragons during the Napoleonic wars? But the result was engaging but slight.

During the four books of the series, however, Novik has continued to develop larger themes. And now she kicks it up a notch in both seriousness and imagination. She continues to use human exploitation of dragons as an analog for the 19th century slave trade. Here she mixes in the discovery of a hidden, advanced pan-African empire that threatens European dominance. In the earlier books, dragons sometimes seemed curiously tacked on to world history as we know it. Novik has gotten bolder, giving her secondary world a stronger narrative life.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Forbidden Kingdom

So sue me, I like Jackie Chan movies. Thus it happens that I really enjoyed The Forbidden Kingdom. It's more of a guilty pleasure than great cinema, but I thought it was a fun time. A bit predictable, but still fun.

The story of the Monkey King and the Journey to the West is a classic of Chinese literature. This American-Chinese production seems to fuse many elements from the classic story with plot devices from The Wizard of Oz, -- an American teenager mysteriously journeys to a magical place and has to journey with strange companions to defeat an evil ruler, before he can be sent home. And it works pretty well, as long as you don't think too hard and enjoy the ride.

Jet Li gives every appearance of gleefully portraying the Monkey King, but things kick up a notch when Jet Li and Jackie Chan are fighting together. Jackie seems to be reprising his Drunken Master character. This sure seemed like classic Saturday matinee fare, updated with 21st century FX and martial arts wire work. I was waiting for the double feature -- would it be Tarzan or Roy Rogers?

All things considered, the Monkey King has fared worse. The graphic novel American Born Chinese may have done the legend better justice, but as screen adaptations go, this is a durn sight better than Dragonball Z!

The Star Beast - renovating a classic

As Gillian mentioned in the previous post, Bruce Coville and the folks at Full Cast Audio have been producing dramatized audio versions of Robert A. Heinlein's juvenile novels. With three books adapted thus far (Have Spacesuit Will Travel, The Rolling Stones, and The Star Beast), and three more to come (including Red Planet and Between Planets), Full Cast is doing a great job of bringing these somewhat forgotten titles new life.

The Star Beast was first published in 1954 and is out of print in book form, though it's fairly easy to find a copy. The story shows its age a bit, particularly in the portrayal of female characters and in failures to predict technology. Some of our current technology has already overtaken Heinlein's 23rd century predictions. As for the female characters, Heinlein was always sexist, though not necessarily in a bad way -- he had a firm sense of gender roles. This softened somewhat in his later works, but in the 1950s, it was decidedly a traditional and old-fashioned, occasionally unflattering view. And his juveniles were squarely aimed at pre-adolescent and teen boys, and sometimes serialized in Boy's Life magazine.

A 1985 article in Children’s Literature Association Quarterly, "Heinlein's Juveniles: Still Contemporary After All These Years" calls attention to the timeless nature of Heinlein's work, despite the dated sociology and technology. There's still tremendous humor, satire, and the exaltation of personal responsibility, common sense, kindness and practical science. But mainly, Heinlein was a gifted storyteller, with a fine sense of character and plot. For all these reasons, it's a good thing that Full Cast Audio is reviving these neglected works.

I've listened to several Full Cast books and have never been disappointed, but The Star Beast is the best yet. With a large cast of over twenty performers, the production is engaging and the performances, particularly by the leads, are excellent. The book is eight hours on eight discs.

At the ALA conference in Toronto in 2003, I talked with Bruce Coville about the then-fledgling Full Cast Audio. I thanked him for reviving Edward Ormondroyd's David and the Phoenix, another childhood favorite. He was pleased that others remember these books, and was committed to bringing back some of the old classics as well as providing opportunities for contemporary writers to get their work dramatized.

Coville is working to make "family friendly" audiobooks, which he defines as "Can an intelligent adult and an intelligent youngster listen to the recording at the same time with mutual pleasure and a lack of embarrassment?" So he helps remind us that you don't have to outgrow children's books and that one of the strengths of audiobooks is the way they create opportunities for sharing.

He's succeeding admirably in all aspects.

Gilbert and Sullivan Set Me Free

Just finished listening to the Full Cast Audio production of Kathleen Karr's Gilbert and Sullivan Set Me Free. I think it is one of the best done audiobooks I've heard. Based on the true events, it is the story of a women's prison that put on Pirates of Penzance in 1914. We hear the story told by a young prisoner, Libby Dobb, of how a new chaplain comes to the prison and starts a choir. After their first performance, of Handel's Hallelujah chorus, is successful, the chaplain decides to put on a full scale production of Pirates of Penzance.

The book draws you in, as Libby and the other women struggle with not only prison life, but also the issues of the day: i.e. oncoming war, a woman's position in society, birth control. The characters feel real, and are made all the more so by the talented actresses that have each role. Along with the full cast there is music, and that really brings the book to life. Snippets of Gilbert and Sullivan and Handel play through out the book, taking the place of page breaks, and of course the women actually sing.

This is a wonderful audiobook for any library to have, or even to own for yourself if you like Gilbert and Sullivan. I have yet to listen to a bad Full Cast Audio production, and there probably won't ever be one. This is a company to trust. They are also the ones making Heinlein audiobooks, but that's a different post.


Friday, March 7, 2008

GN shorts

I've been reading a lot of books and watching a lot of films lately -- I just haven't been writing about them. Here's a piece of catch-up:

Graphic novels & comics

  • All-star Superman (vol. 1) by Grant Morrison (writer) & Frank Quitely (illus.) is a nice re-imagining of the archetypal superhero, creatively written with some nice twists, well-drawn with clean, strong lines and sophisticated coloring. Worthwhile for anyone who enjoys the DC mythos.
  • Mouse Guard (vol. 1: Fall 1152) by David Peterson is a comic book for all ages. Halfway between the Knights of the Round Table and Brian Jacques' Redwall books, this is an entertaining adventure parents can share with kids.
  • Avalon High - Coronation (vol. 1: the Merlin Prophecy) by Meg Cabot, is a disappointing manga-style sequel to Cabot's Avalon High Arthurian romance novel. There's a lot of re-hashing of the original novel, and the artwork seems uninspired and occasionally confusing. Which might be why it's taking a whole year to bring out the second volume. Too bad, because the original book was light fun -- here's hoping Cabot can adapt her writing to the medium and that the drawing shows improvement.
  • Monster (vol. 1) by Naoki Urasawa is a terrific read, and I'm looking forward to catching up with subsequent volumes. A medical and crime thriller reading something like Grey's Anatomy meets CSI, this story of a brilliant Japanese surgeon in Germany who unwittingly helps launch a serial killer, this 18 volume series is rated as the overall best manga on Anime News Network.
  • Flight (vol. 1) - various authors and artists - this is the first installment of an award-winning international anthology, showcasing a broad variety of short works with a common theme of flight.
  • Phoenix (vol. 7) by Osamu Tezuka [Civil War, part 1] is not one of the stronger entries in the long-running and diverse epic of loosely associated stories. But it still entertains.
  • DC: the New Frontier (2 vols) by Darwyn Cooke is a retelling of the CD mythos from WWII through 1960. By viewing super-hero characters and the Justice League as metaphors for empowerment and social change, Cooke tells a compelling story through a lengthy series of anecdotes. He includes McCarthyism, Ku Klux Klan lynchings, Edward R. Murrow and Richard Nixon, before building to a climactic battle that seems like standard Justice League stuff but for the strong character development that runs through the story. But he concludes with a powerful denouement.

Cybils Winners

The Cybils winners were announced a few weeks ago. Check 'em out! Read 'em all! Thanks to Jennie at Biblio File for the reminder!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Review of Airman by Eoin Colfer

I've put up a review of Airman by Colfer on my blog.


Monday, January 21, 2008

Guest entry - YA Librarian's 2007 reads

My dad has kindly invited me to post reviews to his blog here.  I'm a YA Librarian in small town Virginia, to give you a little bit of background knowledge.  Not much to do in our town, but we have a great library.  So here's a quick run down of my reading and its highlights for 2007:

-I read more than 170 books, probably at least 200 with graphic novel volumes counted (this does include audio books)
-Best series: The Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins.  The first book is "Gregor the Overlander," and is somewhat a modern, urban twist on Alice in Wonderland. Unshelved gives a booktalk on it here. Lots of fun adventure, strong and dynamic characters (including a butt-kicking princess), and good writing.
I'd also recommend the Ranger's Apprentice series by John Flanagan, the Last Apprentice series by Joseph Delaney (Tim Burton is planning on directing the movie), and the Bayern series by Shannon Hale.
-Book I wished I hadn't read: "Maximum Ride" by James Patterson, I just don't understand his appeal.
-Best Standalone books: "Book of a Thousand Days" by Shannon Hale, "Boris" and "God Went to Beauty School" by Cynthia Rylant, "Fat Kid Rules the World" by K. L. Going, "Life as We Knew It" by Susan Beth Pfeffer, and "The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Cybils Graphic Novel Finalists

The Childrens' and YA Bloggers Literary Awards finalists for 2007 have been announced. I'm going to touch on a couple of my favorite categories here, but encourage anyone who appreciate literature for kids and teens to check out the Cybils. It's encouraging to see recognition of quality graphic novels. Annotated listings and more are available on the Cybils website.

2007 Graphic Novel Finalists

Teen/Young Adult:

Elementary/Middle Grade:

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Equinox Flower

This was Yasujiro Ozu's first color film in 1958. Throughout his work, Ozu controlled his elements so tightly and formally that adding color must have been a big step for him. The color serves to punctuate and tie together many scenes, though compared with the later Floating Weeds, the color sometimes seems overstated. But it enhances the visual imagery, as do several instances of reflected images which seem to comment on the characters. Ozu fans will relish this film, a poignant blend of family drama and societal change.

The story is similar to Early Summer in dealing with a daughter who wishes to make her own marriage decisions. But in Ozu, story doesn't count for much -- it's all about characters and relationships. The characters here are harder-edged, sometimes rude and manipulative, and in at least one case, blatantly hypocritical.

Much of the drama is watching the traditional father make a fool of himself as he publicly praises romantic love and privately condemns his own daughter for practicing what he has preached. He is utterly insensitive to his long-suffering wife. When the wife says, without apparent irony, that she was really happy when the family was all together in a bomb shelter during an air raid, her husband should have some clue as to what his family has endured since. Workaholic affluence has brought about greater distance between the father and his wife and two daughters. Can he ever see it, or will he left the family fall apart in his pride?

Relationships in other families mirror these dysfunctions in different ways. Ironically, the father who is driving his own family apart is seen as a source of wisdom and advice by other troubled parents. The end result is characteristically engaging and thought provoking in the quiet way that is uniquely Ozu.