the case of the missing mother
by Douglas Messerli
Kōgo Noda and Yasujirō Ozu (screenplay, based on a fiction by Ton Satomi), Yasujirō Ozu (director) Akibiyori (Late Autumn) / 1960, USA 1973
As in many of Japanese director Ozu's films, the story of Late Autumn is, superficially, quite simple. Commemorating the death of Akiko Miwa's husband, several of his close male friends, his wife, and daughter Ayako have gathered at a Buddhist temple. The men suffer the ceremony, commenting on the lengthy performances of the monks, but also gossiping, afterwards, about their own youthful love of Akiko (beautifully played by Setsuko Hara) and their worry over her daughter Ayako (Tōko Tsukasa) for her marriageless state. These three busybody and bungling businessmen—Taguchi (Nobuo Nakamura), Marniya (Shin Saburi), and Hiriyama (Ryuji Kita)—don't even have an available candidate in mind, but are determined to intrude themselves into the Miwas' life.
Withnail and "I" (the latter once in the script referred to as Marwood) are young, out of work actors, living in a Georgian flat in Camden Town, mostly without heat. In between their trips to collect unemployment benefits and attempts to gain "coins" to feed the gas and electricity meters, they primarily survive on alcohol and drugs. The last time they seemed to eat was so long ago that, at the beginning of the film, Marwood (Paul McGann) is terrified that something under their filthy dishes is alive.