17 Mar 2021
12th January 2020
JETAA NW Trip to Altrincham, film and bonenkai
On Sunday 1st December, JETAA North West members spent a very pleasant afternoon in Altrincham, a charming Cheshire town just outside Manchester. We met at the train station and wandered over to the market. In the market hall, there were a number of independent food traders to choose from and we all selected a different cuisine, including crisp sourdough pizza; delicious, fresh soup and hearty pie and mash. We then browsed the quirky craft market, looking at the pet, flower, homeware and clothing stalls.
This was followed by the main event: a screening of Japanese film Good Morning Ohayō (1959) by Yasujiro Ozu. The venue, Altrincham Little Theatre was quaint with comfy seats and a decidedly retro vibe. The film is a loose remake of Ozu’s earlier black and white silent film ‘I was Born But…’ (1939). Before the main feature, we heard an interesting talk by film critic Maggie Hoffen who gave us background on the film and director. We were also shown a scene from ‘I was Born But...’ Unfortunately, the existing copy of that film was scratched so was not good enough quality for showing.
The main feature was quaint, charming and humorous, and the slapstick humour echoed that of the earlier movie. It evoked a modern Tokyo that is lost to us today, set in closely-packed houses in a housing block in a freshly built suburb. Newly and widely available in the 1950s, electrical appliances take centre stage in the major plot points. The main characters are two boys who are desperate for a television. They take on a vow of silence until they get a set, to hilarious effect. A sub-plot that was very cleverly excited involved the wives of the estate, one of whom is suspected to have misappropriated the women's group funds to buy herself a new washing machine. (Don’t worry it was all a misunderstanding!) A thoroughly charming and gentle critique of consumerist society, it was a film I may not have chosen to see if not part of the Japanese film screen programme from Manchester Film Weekender, but it was a big hit with JETAA members.
This film is part of a season of Japanese film showing twice a month in Altrincham. I am hoping to see more before the season ends at the end of February. For more information please see https://www.manchesterfilmweekender.org.uk/films .
For anyone who is interested in Japanese cinema, there is a residential Japanese cinema weekend held in Altrincham from Saturday, January 31st to Sunday 1st February. JET Alumnus Jonathan Bunt who lectures at Manchester University in Japanese Studies will be leading discussions and introducing the film programme. You can attend one day, both days or individual screenings. For more information including ticket prices and orders please see https://www.manchesterfilmweekender.org.uk/mfw-2020/programme .