Tokyo Chorus on TCM

The films are Yasujiro Ozu are being featured this month for Silent Movie Sundays on Turner Classic Movies. Tokyo Chorus played last week (the night I got back from my much-needed vacation off the grid) and I didn’t get around to posting a link my feature article on TCM then, but better late than never.

Counting the bonus in "Tokyo Chorus"

For all the deft sight gags and comic situations–and there are plenty (including a comic symphony around the shenanigans of salarymen trying to count their bonus money away from prying eyes)–there is also an undercurrent of anxiety running through the film as Shinji struggles to find work in Japan’s depressed economy. The shadow of Japan’s hard times falls over Tokyo Chorus and the characters and Ozu isn’t shy about putting the depressed conditions on screen. Yet Ozu meets it with hope and humor and fills the film with tender and delicate moments in such seemingly simple scenes as a round-robin of patty-cake with the kids or group sing-song at the teacher’s banquet. And in contrast to the adults, the children remain impulsive, obstinate and at times destructive when they don’t get their way, especially Shinji’s young son, who defiantly pokes holes through the paper walls and methodically eats the scraps in a show of indignation. The father is forced to grow up but his son remains blissfully free of such responsibilities and Ozu celebrates his stubborn willfulness and bad behavior as a last moment of innocence as well as opportunities for comedy (his hilariously ingenious ploy for stealing a pill from his younger sister is worthy of Chaplin).

Read the complete feature here. And remember, you can get this film on DVD via a superb Criterion box set.

Author: seanax

I write the weekly newspaper column Stream On Demand and the companion website ( I'm a contributing writer for Turner Classic Movies Online, Keyframe, Independent Lens, and Cinephiled, and the editor of Parallax View ( I've written for The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, The Seattle Weekly,, Senses of Cinema, Asian Cult Cinema, and Psychotronic Video, among other publications, and I am a contributing editor to Parallax View. I currently live and work in Seattle, Washington, with my two cats, Hammet and Chandler.

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