A longstanding Japanese metaphor describes human beings as ukigusa: duckweed floating down the river of life, buoyed and propelled through no effort of their own, swirled, pulled, and deflected by currents beyond their ken or control.
Its an allegory that might apply to any of us, but it captures particularly well the sort of friends who constantly crash on your couch and the itinerant kabuki troupe in Yasujirô Ozus 1934 silent film, A Story of Floating Weeds (Ukikusa monogatari). Viewing the arresting camerawork, subtle characterizations, and nuanced performances, youll feel swept along yourself by this story of partings and reunions and of the anger, jealously, and destruction erupting when a mans two lives collide. Grammy-nominated guitarist Alex de Grassis inventive live accompaniment nimbly straddles eastern and western tonalities and structures, underlining the universality of the film, which, lacking Ozus skill, might have devolved into melodrama or ham-fisted sentimentality.
Thu., Jan. 20, 7 p.m., 2011