The film series is designed to explore how Tokyo becomes both a setting for telling compelling stories and a space that allows for the critique of society during times of transition and change, with emphasis on Depression-era Japan, recovery in the aftermath of World War II, the beginning of the high-growth period, and the current era of a seemingly interminable recession. The series features four filmmakers, from acknowledged masters to lesser-known but no less distinguished directors, and spans seven decades of formally innovative filmmaking. The series is made possible with generous support from the Toshiba International Foundation.
"Japan's cinematic art is of outstanding quality and ranks among the best within world cinema. It deserves to be known much better in the West. Therefore I'm happy for the opportunity to introduce classics and lesser-known Japanese films to a wide audience," remarked Timothy Van Compernolle, associate professor of Asian languages and civilizations at Amherst College. "I'm particularly excited about the prewar film Mr. Thank You, which is a rare find on the program of an American cinema."
In Mr. Thank You, an early example of a Japanese road movie, we travel from rural 1930s Izu to the outskirts of Tokyo with a kindly young bus driver and an eclectic group of passengers. Based on a short story by Nobel laureate Yasunari Kawabata, the film was shot on location in the Japanese countryside and takes place almost entirely on a single vehicle plying its daily route. The sparkling dialogue among the passengers and with people met serendipitously on the road becomes a subtle critique of Japanese society in the Great Depression, as well as a meditation on the lure of Tokyo in hard times.
Van Compernolle will introduce the film and discuss it after the screening. The other films in the Japanese film series are Nobody Knows (Oct. 23), Tokyo Story (Oct. 30) and When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (Nov. 6). All screenings begin at 7 p.m. To buy tickets online, please visit the Amherst Cinema website.
The exhibition Reinventing Tokyo remains on view through Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012. To see the complete program of accompanying events, please visit the museum's event calendar.