"The Makioka Sisters", courtesy of Janus Films

Movies in the Spirit of the Cherry Blossoms

The National Cherry Blossom Festival has gone virtual, and now we’ve made some of our planned festival programs virtual too! You can celebrate cherry blossom season with four Japanese films that exemplify its themes of the beauty and fragility of life, the cycle of the seasons, and the importance of the emotional bonds that bring us together. These selected films are part of the Criterion Channel’s extensive streaming library of classic Japanese films. If you are not a member already, Criterion offers a fourteen-day free trial.

-Tom Vick, Curator of Film

Join Tom on Sunday, April 19, at 2 pm for an online discussion of these films: https://zoom.us/j/3405656016

The Makioka Sisters

https://www.criterionchannel.com/the-makioka-sisters

Based on the novel by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki, Kon Ichikawa’s gorgeous drama follows the fading fortunes of a once-prominent family. The story revolves around their annual trips to Kyoto to view the cherry blossoms.

Early Spring

https://www.criterionchannel.com/early-spring

Originally planned as our April monthly matinee, Early Spring was the first film Yasujiro Ozu released after the critical and commercial success of his masterpiece Tokyo Story. This story of a married salaryman who has an affair with a flirtatious coworker offers all of the exquisitely composed imagery, emotional depth, and narrative subtlety that Ozu lovers crave.

Still Walking

https://www.criterionchannel.com/still-walking

Is staying at home with your loved ones driving you nuts? Hirokazu Kore-eda’s tender drama just might restore your faith in family. In part a tribute to Kore-eda’s idol, Yasujio Ozu, Still Walking movingly depicts the emotional highs and lows of a family’s annual remembrance day for a son who died tragically years ago.

Under the Blossoming Cherry Trees

https://www.criterionchannel.com/under-the-blossoming-cherry-trees

If Masahiro Shinoda’s supernatural thriller is to be believed, in ancient times passing through a forest of blossoming cherry trees was thought to cause insanity or worse. In this case, a bandit gets more than he bargained for when he kidnaps a noblewoman, only to discover that she is even more deranged than he is. Needless to say, this one is not for the kids.

Also in April, we’re presenting an online screening and discussion of the documentary Edo Avant Garde.

You can find details here: asia.si.edu/films.

Tom Vick

Tom Vick is curator of film at the Freer and Sackler and the author of "Time and Place are Nonsense: The Films of Seijun Suzuki and Asian Cinema: A Field Guide."

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