Hey, hey, it’s the Monkees . . . being catapulted through one of American cinema’s most surreal sixties odysseys. The brainchild of Bob Rafelson, making his directorial debut; his producing partner and Monkees cocreator Bert Schneider; and Jack Nicholson, a coscreenwriter on the project, Head was the fanciful beginning and ignominious end of the TV-bred supergroup’s big-screen career. In it, Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork become trapped in a kaleidoscopic satire that’s movie homage, media send-up, concert movie, and antiwar cry all at once. A constantly looping, self-referential spoof that was ahead of its time, Head dodged commercial success on its release but has since been reclaimed as one of the great cult objects of its era.
Veteran Japanese writer/director Yasujiro Ozu's second postwar production was 1949's Late Spring or Banshun. Chisu Ryu plays another of Ozu's realistic middle-class types, this time a widower with a marriageable daughter. Not wishing to see the girl resign herself to spinsterhood, Ryu pretends that he himself is about to be married. The game plan is to convince the daughter that they'll be no room for her at home, thus forcing her to seek comfort and joy elsewhere. What makes this homey little domestic episode work is the rapport between Chisu Ryu and Setsuko Hara, who plays the daughter. Late Spring is no facile Hollywood farce; we like these people, believe in them, and wish them the best.