Ozu's films are often categorized in periods or chapters of his filmography (Early or Silent films Late Ozu or Materpiece period). The Flavor of Green Tea over Rice of 1952 can be categorized as one of his later masterpieces. Just before his main film Tokyo Story (1953) and after Early Summer (1951). Being the fourth film I've seen from him this is made the one I appreciated the most. Why? I think it may not be that far better than Tokyo Story, Late Spring, or Early Summer but I think this is a director which the most films you see of him the more you appreciate his style, his vision, his storytelling, and his directing qualities.
The more japanese of japanese directors always been frown upon and snobbed for his two main contemporaries Akira Kurosawa and Kenji Mizoguchi. They were always the representants of Japan in Cannes and in the international festivals. Like many artists sadly, it's after his death he becma to be habilited into world Cinema and regarded as one of the main figures of his art. The stories depicted in his films are common and regular issues of normal japanese people, with contemporary stories, without swordsmen/samurais, without spectacular scenes or events, and during the little moments of our lives.
His style, with a low camera and few movements of it is very contemplative. He is, of the three main japanese directors of his period the closest to documentary style and natural life emotions.
In The Flavor of Green Tea over Rice one of his recurring theme is used to illustrate the main story of his film; food. When the husband illustrate to his wife how he sees life and happiness through simple food and he compares them together to green tea penetrating the rice to make a dish that he finds really good it makes the best scene of the film. Without being spectacular or too emotive it's a magical moment made by Ozu here. It's a simple story about simple people not too dramatic or comical but just the right touch to it to make it a comedy of manners signed Ozu. Visually it's a stunning film with few movements of camera that accentuate the scenes and the nice rythm of the film.
It's weird but also I think it's there, it has a touch of a feel good movie where at the end every piece falls into it's right place.
A filme review by Michaël Parent