I know this is going to surprise some of you – hell, it surprised me – but my all time favorite film has to be Tokyo Story by the Japanese master of cinema Yasujiro Ozu. I saw this film when I was fifteen years old and it totally blew my mind.
A retired couple come to Tokyo to spend some time with their children, though their kids are too busy to spend much time with them. The exception is their widowed daughter-in-law, who treats them with consideration and respect. The story is sleight (it’s actually based on an American film funnily enough) but the performances are beautifully done, the framing is exquisite with Ozu creating a series of magic boxes to pry into and the quiet power of the film is touching beyond words.
When I was working on Transformers 2 and I was in some trouble, I sat down and re-watched Tokyo Story. As a matter of fact, I’ve done this before I make every film I’ve made: Armageddon, Pearl Harbor and Bad Boys II. It’s a terrible mistake. I watch it and I weep for hours afterwards, in the shower, with the water on full blast, fully clothed. I scream until my voice is hoarse and then when I’m exhausted and there’s nothing more I can do, I clean up, go out to the set and carry on making the cinematic equivalent of diarrehtic faeces, happy in the knowledge that no one will ever compare my films to Tokyo Story.