Sunday, August 15, 2010

Make Way For Tomorrow

Make Way For Tomorrow, 1937
Dir: Leo McCarey

This film is a brick of sadness to the face. Unavoidable in its relentless degradation of the way we treat old people, even in its slight Old Hollywood, hokey trappings, by the end you are in a downright state. And maybe even more so now because it's sure to be a million times worse in the hustle and bustle of modern life. There are so many squeamish and unbearable moments in this film that are incredibly hard to watch, and even when the brick is starting to feel like a hammer in the obviousness of it all, the overwhelming feeling you are left with just locks your eyes to the screen. Don't let the presentation fool you though. This is anything but your normal Hollywood feature. McCarey got creamed (by audiences and his studio, but not by critics) for making a bummer during the Depression, but sometimes you need that. To be reminded what life really is like. The characters stare past one another rather than really interact. I wouldn't be surprised if Ozu saw this at some point in his life (Did you know that Ozu skipped out on being conscripted in the Imperial Army (for a second time) during WWII and fled to Singapore where he spent his days watching endless amounts of old Hollywood films? What a badass cinephile...) and realized that Japanese people in the 50s needed a similar reminder to "honor your mother and father" as well. While Ozu's Tokyo Story (1955) is a polite, Japanese push out the door, Make Way For Tomorrow is, like I said, an American brick to the face. And it really hurts. I might prefer Ozu's more subtle method, but it is impossible to not be affected by this film. Wet eyes will occur.

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