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A House DVD'd

Criterion and Rooster Teeth give you something worth wishing for

By James Renovitch, December 20, 2013, Screens

Tokyo Story

Criterion Collection, $39.95 (Blu-ray + DVD)

Gifting a Criterion release to a lover of cinema can be filed under "no-­brainer." But this Blu­-ray re-­release of the Yasujiro Ozu classic is a must-­have. Exactly how classic is Tokyo Story? Well, in the latest Sight & Sound poll of the greatest films of all time, Ozu is the only director to have two films in the Top 20, with Tokyo Story losing out only to Vertigo and Citizen Kane.

This is a perfect storm for Ozu, who never tired of depicting everyday family life, his camera humbly near the floor, with frames impeccably constructed in the repeated rectangles of shoji panels. The film stars two of the director's favorite actors: Chishu Ryu as the reserved and kindly patriarch and Setsuko Hara, the widowed daughter-­in-­law. Ryu radiates emotion with every wrinkle in his face as his on­screen children make him and his wife feel like nuisances.

Ozu tells a universal tale with his unique cinematic voice. With its paper-thin story and leisurely pace, Tokyo Story is at once unassuming and devastating.

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