The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice, 1950

Revisiting themes of marital complacency and mutual respect as his earlier domestic comedy What Did the Lady Forget?, The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice demonstrates unusually dynamic camerawork a later period, postwar Ozu film, featuring several low angle tracking shots – often placed as interstitial scenes in lieu of his more familiar ‘pillow’ shots – that move through the empty spaces of the Satake’s upper middle-class household. In an early episode, Taeko (Michiko Kogure) fabricates an ill-conceived excuse of going away in order to care for a friend with appendicitis (despite having to switch the patient’s identity midway through the flimsy explanation after her niece Setsuko (Keiko Tsushima) unexpectedly returns home and ruins the premise of the concocted story) in order to go on holiday with friends at a spa resort. As Taeko alternately belittles her husband Mokichi (Shin Saburi) and goads Setsuko into accepting a marriage interview, the two invariably seek refuge outside their home, eventually finding their way to a pachinko parlor operated by Mokichi’s former military colleague Hirayama (Chishu Ryu). The film’s title, derived from Mokichi’s humble taste for the comfortable and familiar dish, invariably proves to be a reflection of the film itself: a subtle, pleasant, and simple experience that evokes a cherished personality of meaning.

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