About Ozu

There’s something about Ozu films that I love.

Perhaps it’s the quietness of the plot, where I know nothing is going to jump out at me, make my heart race, or leave me in a soggy puddle on the floor.

His movies are not very long but they take me hours to watch. Why? With most of them, I pause specific scenes just so I can take in everything that’s there. And there’s always a lot to take in.
there’s something about Ozu – un. deux.. trois…

Chekhov’s Water Bottle

Warren Ellis watched Bullet Train.

Chekhov’s gun is a writing principle that states that everything in a story should be there for a reason. Chekhov’s famous example is that if we’re told a rifle is hanging on the wall in chapter one, then someone needs to fire it in chapter two, otherwise why tell us there’s a rifle there?  Chekhov tells us not to waste time with details that aren’t important.  Talk about only what is in service to the story, no matter how irrelevant it may seem at the start.
Chekhov’s Water Bottle: BULLET TRAIN (2022) – WARREN ELLIS LTD

I saw Bullet Train a while ago. The actors’ joy was contagious.


I am listening to it as I am writing this. Sakamoto loves Bach and it shows in this piece.

You might also checkout the album Playing the Piano 12122020. It is lovely. If you are unfamiliar with Sakamoto you will find hat there is lots to discover.

The Monocle Minute | Monocle:

Over the past couple of days, Ryuichi Sakamoto (pictured), one of Japan’s greatest contemporary musicians, has made a pre-recorded solo piano “concert” available to stream in what might be one of his last public appearances. Sakamoto, who is being treated for stage-4 cancer, has had a remarkable career that spans 1970s synth pop and film scores, and he occupies a unique space in Japan’s cultural landscape.


“I hope to be able to make music until my last moment, like Bach and Debussy, whom I love,” he recently wrote.

What a legend.
Take a look at the wonderful documentary Coda from 2017. You can watch the trailer here. I bought the DVD and watched it several times.

And so much music for films: Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence was the first one I experienced. Sakamoto was asked to act in the movie and promptly told the director he would only act IF he also got to do the music. Nice! Then came Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor. Again, he was engaged as an actor. After composing a few pieces for the movie, during the filming, he eventually scored most of the movie. Then there are Almodovar’s High Heels, The Revenant, and so many more – IMDB lists over a hundred.

Found this video of a performance by Sakamoto and Alvo Nota in the Glass House, the famous building by Philip Johnson, located in New Canaan, Connecticut.


Photography seemed to me, as I stood there in the white gallery with its rows of pictures and its press of murmuring spectators, an uncanny art like no other. One moment, in all of history, was captured, but the moments before and after it disappeared into the onrush of time; only that selected moment itself was privileged, saved, for no other reason that its having been picked out by the camera’s eye.

from Open City by Teju Cole

That quote was preceded by the description of this photo (I found the image here) from 1930, by Martin Munkacsi, and the statement that Henri Cartier-Bresson had developed the ideal of the decisive moment from seeing that image.

That is a beautiful statement and certainly true for any photograph involving some kind of movement, especially by people or animals. Perhaps I prefer landscape photography for the very reason that it can have a more timeless quality. I do like to take photographs that don’t look like anything would happen before or after the image was taken. Such a landscape photograph has a different quality, absent of the onrush of time, absent of the obvious decisive moment.

I imagine everyone has had the experience of walking in the woods or across a vast field or beach, and thinking that, because of the absence of anything that could date what we saw, time might suddenly change and thus, when we returned from that scene, we would find ourselves in a different time period. In the past or perhaps in the future. I remember thinking that when I was a kid and, truth be told, the thought has also occurred to me many times as an adult.

(((Last night I watched the excellent film Faces Places, on Kanopy of course, and Agnes Varda and JR traveled to the small graveyard where Cartier-Bresson was buried. Always interesting when a name comes up more than once within a day.)))

PS: My preference of landscapes photography does not mean I don’t love Muncascsi or Cartier-Bresson. In fact I think their work is awesome. It’s just not something I can do or am drawn to.


Do you know about Kanopy? If you are a member of a public library it is possible that you can access a lot of great movies on Kanopy – for free. The Santa Fe Public Library enables me to watch five movies per month and it’s indeed a very nice collection of films. If you are interested in international or indie movies you might find that Kanopy has more of them than the usual streaming services you have to pay for.

Just last week I watched My Old Lady (Maggie Smith, Kristin Scott Thomas, Kevin Kline) and Found Memories. I enjoyed both movies a lot. The former reminded me of a stage play – and when I checked it was indeed written and directed by a playwright – and the latter was a beautiful Brazilian movie about a secluded village of elderly people into which a young photographer enters. The film features some of the beautiful photos the photographer takes with some kind of portable camera obscura. Madalena, one of the villagers, teaches the photographer how to make the daily bread for the village by the light of an oil lamp. Photography and bread! It was like the movie was made for me. No guitar though…

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