I despise the notion of authenticity, especially in the ways it has been used, been corrupted, been manipulated, managed, marketed in marketing and not anything like an organic marketplace.
The most Japanese director? What kind of question is that?
I do not know what that question, or any question similar to it, means. What could it mean for anything or anyone anywhere to be a Japanese director of films, let alone the superlative of Japanese film making in that way that speaks to what it what it speaks from, that speaks for (?), of (?), from (?) authenticity, which I have already asserted is principally deception?
I am of the mind that the adjectival forms of the words we use for nations, thus nationalities, perhaps ethnicities (and herein we are to going to explore the differences between the two), are not scaling. The word ‘circle’ is a noun, the adjectival form is circular. Now something A cannot be more circular than B; if that were true then B would not be a circle and thus not circular. Only circles are circular and no circle can be more circular than another. No Japanese director can be more Japanese than any other Japanese director directing Japanese films in Japan . . . let us put aside what a Japanese director does outside of Japan. We could say that anything African Americans do, say, make, tell, understand, accept, reject, create is African American culture, and remains, let us borrow the term, authentic, in spite of what marketing would have us believe, that the only authentic way to be black is a way that far too many who black do not or might not recognize in mind or mirror.
Quintessential? Is he? Do his films remain so, have they ever been so? This remains yet another question, often posed in a superlative posture, that ends in meaninglessness: The most quintessential Japanese director? What the f#$% does that mean?
I am still puzzling over this, that and any other this or that that comes of this inquiry? Is that what this is?
I am of the mind that this idea of authenticity is very subjective . . . and that that means something other than I have a handle on, mostly because I distrust its use as much as I do the word ‘authentic,’ although I do understand authenticity as part of a larger aesthetic understanding, but certainly not as an absolute value, yet one that gains in clarity through articulation, explication, critique. You follow?
Authentic, quintessential, the most Japanese director–Ozu is Ozu and in being himself he does transcend race, nation, tradition, his contemporaneity as I insist is true for each and every human being who lives now, has ever lived, who ever will live. Whatever else we have in the manner of the matter of our words to say something about this man Yashujiro Ozu–words do not or cannot say what they mean at, mean what they say at, intention is not everything but it certainly is not nothing–get what I am meaning . . . to say or not to say. I am in my totality of separate categories of inclusion, a sum greater than the parts, we used to like saying.
His films are some of the most beautiful films I have ever seen–there is a compositional beauty–what does that mean? How he composes his shots, they are not lush nor are they–what is it that they are not? No one can think that beauty only resides in opulence, in voluptuousness, in exuberance . . . are there those who really do think this way? What is it that is beautiful? To be beautiful or not to be beautiful . . . is it only in the eye of the b beholder, and if that were true, the single, solitary eye holding what beauty is . . . does that deny, refuse other senses of beauty that can be objectified? You do or do not think that?
I used to think and have come to think again that the Japanese succeed at conveying beauty through simplicity more often? more intensely? than other Peoples have . . . ever? Why the hunt for superlatives? I have always mistrusted when anyone has said the most, the best, the biggest about anything . . . yet something of this feels true..
I am about to watch Ozu’s Tokyo Story. I also have Late Spring which I watched recently. I remember There Was a Father . . .
Ozu is one of the great and almost entirely ignored directors in the history of cinema. Big words, probably inaccurate through other refractions, another articulation, a planet of praise and appraisals. There is, though, something elemental about his films–that is, elemental to cinema . . . and there is a world cinema, a way of understanding all films by all directors of all nationalities, races, ethnicities, metaphysical persuasions, singularly, yes, over-archingly. There is also something peculiarly unique about each and every director, but, as I will insist, more so in the manner and matter of Ozu’s films. But then we can say that we have to say that about all great directors, no? Is this not also true of say Lang, of Bunuel, of Bresson, only to name a very, very few? You could pick any other three . . .
I do think there might be no greater–more profound . . . I trail off. What is, is, and Ozu’s films are . . .? Questions do follow other questions in a string . . . what is it about simplicity in the history of art? Why has someone whose nearly Zen-like austerity and simplicity . . . Each frame is marvelously simple, but then this does not bely the fact that they can also be extraordinarily complex. Simplicity is the antonym of complicated, which is never a synonym of complexity. Simplistic is mutually exclusive of simple. Get a handle on your words first.
But then words fail to express Ozu and his films because Ozu takes us to where language fails, and his attention to a complete lack of ornamentation . . . I continue to lack predication here. I am wondering how this director who has been labelled as the most Japanese of Japan’s great directors–no I wonder not. The reason this most Japanese of directors reaches us the way he does is because he has been able to translate this Japanese Japanese-ness into and through the language of cinema, thus making it international, universally understood if not universal.
Ozu is . . . yes, to give attribute to Ozu is to subtract from Ozu . . . that’s not exactly so.
The master I hold in awe with a continuing and almost gnawingly persistent reverence that I have for his work . . . what I feel about his work I feel deeply . . . felt in that way that stays apart from what words do and do not say.
There is no more at the moment.