Tora-san’s Runaway returned to the silver screen 49 years later after its 1970’s debut in crisp 4K at New York City’s Japan Society last Friday. The dark overtone message of the comedy film? Hard work doesn’t necessarily pay off at all. Romantic, fairy tale style endings are for the imagination. Tora-san’s imagination that is…
This article contains spoilers for Tora-san’s Runaway.
Tora-san’s Runaway is an exhibit of fallacy in the promise of hard work always paying off. Throughout the film, lead character Torajirō Kuruma is pushed by his sister Sakura Suwa to make an honest living. That a man is meant to toil under the sweat of his brow. She urges Tora-San to stop living day-to-day, lackadaisically wandering through life, with no true planning for the future.
Tora-san takes his sister’s words to heart, knowing she wants the best for him… In fact, Tora-san takes the words so literally, he desires a job where he ‘can sweat and become oily’ over the course of the work day. Thus, Tora-san played by star Kiyoshi Atsumi, decides to reform his street life ways, first superficially through wearing a sharp suit and hat. Then eventually by taking a job selling fried Tofu. More on that later!
Initially, he consults with his uncle Tatsuzō, aunt Tsune, and sister Sakura on the most fitting job for him over dinner. His uncle suggests tempura if he wants to get “oily working” but Tora-san waves the idea off. Making it clear he dislikes tempura. Tora-san’s uncle is already skeptical of Tora-san’s grand, seemingly overnight promise to change…
Lack of uncle Tatsuzō’s blessings for Tora-san
Tatsuzō, played by Shin Morikawa, is not exactly the biggest supporter of Torajirō, outside of getting him out of the house. At the onset of the film, Tora-san’s aunt plays a relatively cruel practical joke on him… Informing Tora his uncle was about to pass on over a phone call.
Tora-san wants to do right by his uncle, and actually sets up all funeral arrangements… Only to discover his uncle is completely fine and well, just sleeping. As a result, his uncle is embarrassed by local town residents arriving to grieve and pay their respects.Though Tora-san’s uncle is mad at his wife for leading the practical joke in the first place, he is furious at Tora-san. Stating he’d rather be dead that have to see him. Even getting a full blown makeshift rope noose around his neck to make a statement. A vulnerable, weakened Tora-san decides to leave but more than hints he’d like someone to stop him, and sister Sakura [Chieko Baisho] obliges.
Why Tora-san really decides to change his life
Tatsuzō later goes to see his old boss, who’s actually dying… And has a railroad conductor son who refuses to see him. At first, Torajiro pushes and pushes for the railroad conductor to go with him and his vagabond street pal to see his dying boss. However, after the railroad conductor speaks of how he went to see his father once in his youth, only to see his dark side, beating on someone… Tora-san gives up silently. This moment changes Tora-san’s life. His boss passes on and never sees his flesh and blood to apologize, which his son called a selfish demand.
Tora-san tells his fellow vagabond street pal to leave, go back home to his father. In fact, hitting him when he wants to stay with Tora-san. From this point forward, Tora-san returns to his sister’s words and wants to be the type of person she spoke of. Instead of drifting through life and ending up like his boss.
Reality Hits for Torajirō Kuruma
After being rejected for several local jobs post-reform, Tora-san leaves in shame to the next town over. There the people don’t know of his reputation, and he gets a job as a bicycle-riding fried tofu salesman. The true apple of his eye, however? His new boss’ peer-aged daughter, Setsuko [Aiko Nagayama] who seems to take a liking to Tora-san. She laughs at all his jokes and visits him each night. Tora-san works harder than ever, and proudly tells his sister he might settle there over the phone.
Everything seems to be going in storybook fashion for Tora-san, his sister was right all along… Or was she?
A local tofu costumer arrives for dinner one night when Torajirō is at his most happiest… Torajirō had been asked the prior night if he’d be willing to stay on with the family’s Tofu business on permanent basis instead of as a replacement. When he said yes, Setsuko was grinning from ear to ear, telling Tora-san how happy he’d made her.
Tora-san comments at his most confident that the tofu costumer reminds him a lot of his sister Sakura’s husband Hiroshi [Gin Maeda]. A smiling Setsuko then explains how she and the ‘customer’ (a railroad conductor) had actually been meaning to get married for a while now. However, they needed a replacement at her mother’s tofu shop. Setsuko’s mother Tomiko [Tokuko Sugiyama] tells Torajirō they need to find a nice girl for him too, what type does he like? He replies, “someone like you” joking but crushed.
Moonlight Devastation and a Broken Heart
The next day, a devastated Tora-san heads back home. His sister chases him down as he leaves his uncle’s residence for a moonlight aimless walk. Tora-san earnestly tells her how he tried so hard but the honest life is not for him, holding back tears. He reunites with his younger vagabond pal the next day on the beach.
The more Tora-san attempted to escape his fate, the more life pulled him right back on track to his destiny. No happy ending to be found. In fact, Setsuko seems partially oblivious why Tora-san left in the middle of the night. Only starting to comprehend the feelings Torajirō held for her… But she does not go searching for him in some kind of audience warming epiphany. Rather, the credits roll just as Tora returns to the comfort of his old life. Hard work failing him.
The 4K Restoration Film Screening of Tora-San’s Runaway occurred on November 1, 2019 in New York City’s Japan Society. A new 4k screening of film, Tora-san Meets His Lordship, will be playing at Japan Society on December 6, 2019 at 7 p.m. EST. Purchase tickets to the event at this link.
Follow along Japan Society’s busy Film Schedule as part of their Tokyo Stories: Japan in the Global Imagination series.
Ellen Toland spoke to The Natural Aristocrat about Inside the Rain’s Emma Taylor and society’s inability to separate job title from human being leading to a culture of objectification.
Ellen Toland’s Emma Taylor in new film Inside the Rain is a quiet looking glass into the day-to-day treatment of commodified human beings. When the fantasy of body sushi and the gentlemen’s club ends and a person trying to resume their regular life off-the-clock begins. Yet, separating the person from their job title appears a distant hope, like spotting individual blades of grass outside. It’s for this reason, among many others, that Emma Taylor finds comfort in another person pre-judged by society. One born with bipolar disorder and treated as such at all times to personal detriment. Even scorned in suspicion for taking their medication due to repetitional bias.
Meet Ben Glass, Inside the Rain’s lead protagonist. Ben is largely defined by one act during Into the Rain, an attempted suicide via overdose. In turn, Ben is later accused of another such attempt when he’s spotted simply organizing his medicine for the week… Leading to an unjust arrest and potential exclusion from university. Thus, Ben Glass decides to make a film about all the events leading up to the arrest as a proactive visual defense. Better Call Saul’s Jimmy McGill once told Scholarship interviewee Kristy Esposito that, ‘You made a mistake and to them that’s all you’ll ever be,’ and it feels highly applicable to Inside the Rain’s plot. Much like Jimmy tried to drive Kristy to fighting forward even without the scholarship, Emma Taylor feels Ben can be advance forward in his life without going back to a University that preemptively shunned him.
This interview contains spoilers for Inside the Rain.
Interview with Ellen Toland on Inside the Rain’s Emma Taylor:Ellen Toland as Emma Taylor in film, Inside the Rain – Photo Credit: Art 13
Nir Regev [The Natural Aristocrat]: A good portion of TV & Film audiences are unable to disconnect the character they see on-screen from an actor in real life. During Inside the Rain, these fraternity looking, rich jocks bother Emma Taylor outside of the strip club she works at. Unable to separate the fantasy of body sushi from a regular person having a smoke after work. I was wondering how you feel about that?
Ellen Toland: Oh, that’s a really, really good question. I think that’s a feminine issue especially and it’s pretty ingrained in masculine culture. To objectify women, having a hard time separating the fact that they are not an object and something to toy with. I feel that’s what that scene really plays upon because those guys definitely don’t see a difference between a human being and their sushi tray.
And I think that’s a real issue with our culture in general.
It’s something that people really need to assess within themselves. I think that happens with people and titles of their jobs in the first place too. We don’t see past the title of what people do, and we make that their entire identity… And then treat them with that sense.
Do you feel Emma’s openness lends itself to accept a bipolar person intimately into her life despite his involuntarily asylum stay? There’s many that would have second thoughts after seeing someone forcibly institutionalized but you decide to donate Ben $5,000 dollars for his student film.
Yeah, I feel Emma’s seen a lot of different types of people and has a deep well of empathy & understanding for people. She kind of sees that with Ben but I also think it’s matched with Ben’s acceptance of her and building her up. Which I don’t think she’s had a lot of in her own life. It’s the perfect combination of both of them meeting each other exactly where they’re at, building each other up, and ultimately eventually move on in their own lives.Ellen Toland as Emma Taylor, Aaron Fisher as Ben Glass in film, Inside the Rain – Photo Credit: Art 13
What was it like shooting the scene where Emma’s having dinner with Ben’s parents and mentions she works at a strip club?
I think my choice going into the dinner was that Emma hadn’t been introduced to a lot of parents and treated normally. She’s meeting their possible judgment by just really owning it and trying to almost test them out too and see how they’re going to react. When it’s met with genuine acceptance as well, she’s pleasantly surprised. Shooting that scene was really fun and the restaurant was very sweet to us as well, we ate a huge meal! [laughs] That was great, never bad to get to eat on set, you know?Catherine Curtin as Emma Glass and Paul Schulze as David Glass in film, Inside the Rain – Photo Credit: Art 13
I saw an interview with you and Aaron Fisher where he said, ‘During auditions it just kept going back to Ellen, Ellen, Ellen!’ What do you think was that X-Factor won you the role?
Ultimately, I feel Aaron and I had a pretty natural chemistry. One that you can’t really manipulate with actors necessarily. All the pieces fell together. We really had a good energy together and you really need that in a romance. (laughs)
Inside the Rain left things a little bit open ended for the ending. Why do you feel the choice was made not to send the audience home feeling ‘warm and fuzzy’ with a full happy ending?
I mean I think it was also being realistic to what really would happen in real life. Aaron was also basing the film off of his own life. He wanted to play to the truth of that. And I think they both needed to go and own themselves. They’d been given that confidence, and that’s what’s so good about the flash forward at the end.
It showed that that’s why Ben made that choice, that he really could move forward and ended up with the person he was meant to be with. We have people in our life all the time that are just chapters that are meant to lead us to end of our own story, it doesn’t make those chapters any less important.Ellen Toland as Emma Taylor, Aaron Fisher as Ben Glass in film, Inside the Rain – Photo Credit: Art 13
Inside the Rain feels so much like art imitating life. I have to ask… Is Emma Taylor the real name of the girl portrayed in the film?
Oh, no it’s not her real name! (laughs) It’s loosely based off of someone but it’s definitely not the same name! There’s elements of Aaron’s life in the film, I’d say 60/40 but the film is loosely biographical. Like the last ten years all stirred around into one movie.
Do you feel being aware that Aaron knew this person impacted your interpretation in any way? Or did you still approach the role in the same way you would any other?
You think about it for sure but you also want to create your own vision of it and own that. Aaron and I definitely talked a ton about Emma but he gave him lots of room to make my own decisions. Aaron’s an actor’s director!
There was kind of a frugal moment toward the end at the fast food joint where Emma is adding everything up on her head. It seemed based on those sexually fueled videos she was making outside of her main job and the $5,000 donation that she’d be rich. How do you feel about that scene?
That scene is trying to say that she’s working really hard to get where she is, and knows the worth of a dollar. Feeling at the same time that Ben hasen’t had that kind of struggle. I think you can be making a lot of money and still be frugal. You remember how hard it was to get there.
Why do you feel that despite ‘red flags’ being present, Emma decides to donate the money for Ben’s film? Did Ben’s dream become Emma’s dream and intertwined at that point?
Yeah it all becomes mixed up. I think it also becomes her dream. Emma sees this person that she cares about and understands how important it is to him. There was no too big of a feat to make that dream come true.
Would you like to reprise the character of Emma Taylor potentially in another film?
I love Emma! She’s so brave and strong, I really adore her. If there is an Inside the Rain: Part 2, sure. I mean Aaron and I are really good buds, I love working with him. I’d love to work with him again, of course!
How much of yourself do you see in Emma as a character?
I think that any person you play, you bring an element of yourself. There’s things that are different, there’s things that are the same but I don’t think it’s necessarily conscious. You just bring as much of your research on their perspective of the world as you can. Whether that’s the way you move or even read things. Maybe there’s pieces of yourself in that. It’s a weird little mixed up bag.Ellen Toland as Emma Taylor, Aaron Fisher as Ben Glass in film, Inside the Rain – Photo Credit: Art 13
I saw you studied over in RADA, one of the best acting schools in the world. How do you feel it established your foundations as an actress?
It was amazing! I loved it, some of the best professors I ever had were there. It was something I’d always dreamt of doing and I loved London. It was a really important step in developing my craft. Everything that people say about it… It’s all true! It did not disappoint.
Read more Film and Television interviews in The Natural Aristocrat’s Interview category section. Be sure to watch The Natural Aristocrat TV with Host Nir Regev interviewing leading talent in the entertainment and sports industry on-camera!
Draft picks in fantasy sports act as surrogates to the type of person you really are. “Well, they’re my home team. What’s a man without loyalty?” – Mustang’s [Domenick Lombardozzi] double entendre in Cold Pursuit.
This article contains spoilers for 2019 film, Cold Pursuit.
Around the 34:15 minute mark of Cold Pursuit, there’s a seemingly innocent but meaningful conversation between ‘senior enforcer’ Mustang [Domenick Lombardozzi] and his boss’ young son Ryan Calcote [Nicholas Holmes]. Mustang requests advice from the prodigy-like youngster for his Fantasy Football league… Demoralized by constant losing. “I can’t… I can’t win a game.”
Ryan inquires if Mustang is playing for money, testing the waters as he examines the squad. Mustang confirms and the youngster immediately notices a pattern, “You have four Cleveland Browns on your team.” In effect, Mustang has placed all his eggs in one basket, hedging his bets entirely on the whims of one battalion for victory. Mustang responds, “Well, they’re my home team. What’s a man without loyalty?” In essence, clearly identifying what kind of person Mustang is and gives him away. Loyal to a fault, always going down with the ship… Even when there’s a life raft within fingertips’ reach.
As such, Ryan tells him, “I can’t help you,” sensing Mustang to be a lost cause. If Mustang had approached his fantasy football team in a black and white, unattached, purely mathematical stats-based manner… He’d likely be on the road to gridiron victory already. However, Mustang let the emotional attachment of his home team get the better of him to personal financial detriment. He was willing to sacrifice both his wallet and perception as a skilled drafter to colleagues/friends in order to appease players he’d never even met.
Thus, being accepted as a Cleveland Browns supporter by some invisible corporate eye is more important to Mustang than any kind of personal gain. This mentality equals a favorable feeling to losing ‘honorably’ as part of a team, instead of ‘dishonorably’ winning as an individual. Without giving too much away from the the film, Domenick Lombardozzi’s Mustang would go on to experience loss in other areas of life than fantasy football in Cold Pursuit. It raises the question, at what times is social acceptance more important than individual success?
Watch the memorable acting scene featuring Domenick Lombardozzi & Nicholas Holmes in Cold Pursuit, now streaming on HBO Go and available to rent or buy on Amazon. HBO is available as a Channel on HBO as well for non-cable subscribers.
Be sure to read Requiem for Mac: How Domenick Lombardozzi won Ray Donovan fans on The Natural Aristocrat.
La Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de México (OSN) will be performing two nights of Stanley Kubrick film music titled ‘Kubrick Sinfónico Reloaded’ or Kubrick Symphonic Reloaded at Palacio de Bellas Artes.
The National Symphony Orchestra of Mexico (La Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de México) will be playing a full range of iconic pieces from Stanley Kubrick’s films on Friday, March 6 (8 pm) and Sunday, March 8 (12:15 pm) in Mexico City’s Palace of Fine Arts (Palacio de Bellas Artes).
According to INBAL (Mexico’s National Institute of Fine Arts and Literature), eleven compositions will be featured total from Barry Lyndon, A Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Shining, and Eyes Wide Shut. * “Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 and 4” are counted as one piece for the above INBAL link’s number of 10. José Luis Castillo will be conducting/guest directed the show with Juan Arturo Brennan narrating the event with the history of each piece. The presentation will be part of OSN’s ‘Programa 5’, or fifth program of the season.
The Full Program:
A Clockwork Orange – Beethoven/Wendy Carlos (version for film) – “Suicide Scherzo (Ninth Symphony, Second Movement, Abridged)”
A Clockwork Orange – Edward Elgar – “Pomp And Circumstance March No. 1”
A Clockwork Orange – Edward Elgar – “Pomp And Circumstance March No. 4”
A Clockwork Orange – Henry Purcell/Wendy Carlos (version for film) – “Music for the Funeral of Queen Mary”
Barry Lyndon – Franz Schubert – “German Dance No. 1 in C major”
Barry Lyndon – Franz Schubert – “Piano Trio in E-Flat, Film Adaptation of the Opus 100 2nd Movement”
Barry Lyndon – Frederick The Great – Hohenfriedberger March *
José Luis Castillo es uno de los directores y compositores más destacados y activos en el panorama musical actual. Es considerado como uno de los especialistas en el repertorio moderno y contemporáneo.#KubrickSinfónicoReloaded
Viernes 6 y domingo 8 de marzo, 2020@PalacioOficial pic.twitter.com/XlOxqPlShR
— OSN México (@OSN_MX) March 5, 2020
Kubrick Sinfónico Reloaded: Ticket Availability
Tickets for the event appear sold out on Ticketmaster for Sunday’s event and no longer available online for tonight’s performance. If you’re a local resident, your best bet might be to go to the venue’s box office.
Juan Arturo Brennan, guionista, productor, realizador y conductor de programas culturales de radio y televisión. Crítico de música y colaborador de otras publicaciones, periodista y traductor. #KubrickSinfónicoReloaded
Viernes 6 y domingo 8 de marzo, 2020@PalacioOficial pic.twitter.com/KKQEYRAzQG
— OSN México (@OSN_MX) March 5, 2020
More Stanley Kubrick Coverage at The Natural Aristocrat
Be sure to watch The Natural Aristocrat’s exclusive one-on-one interview with Stanley Kubrick’s daughter Katharina Kubrick and view a walking video tour of the ‘Envisioning 2001″ exhibit at NYC’s Museum of the Moving Image.
Footage of the entire ‘Envisioning 2001′ press presentation featuring a Q & A session with Katharina Kubrick is also available!
The Natural Aristocrat examined the greatness of Barry Lyndon’s use of Handel’s ‘Sarabande’ duel music and how it layered the film. Read more Kubrick articles on The Natural Aristocrat’s Stanley Kubrick category section.