I watched I Was Born But... last night. My textbook mentioned it as one of the films Yasujirou Ozu did with Kushima Akira and Ikeda Tadao under the single name of James Maki. It's a gendaigeki of the '30s featuring "...family disunity and emergent contractual social relations" and an "urban wasteland of suburban development sites." Especially mentioned in the book is the scene where the older son confronts his father on why he's not a "somebody." They also take a look at the graphic matches during the drill marching vs. yawning at work.
I thought this movie was great. I love the way the two brothers are always doing everything in sync. I wonder if they had to practice a lot or if it came easily to them. It's cute how the younger one copies the older one, and how he actually listens to what his brother says. For instance, when the father offers (what I assume is) a sweet and the boys are angry at him the younger one moves to grab it but the older one tells him not to. I can't remember them ever fighting amongst themselves, only with the other boys and (strikingly) their dad.
It seemed to me that on the whole the two brothers are good, clever, bright kids. Sure, they get into mischief and skip school and whatnot, but they always seem to be thinking and are very observant of the way things work. This is why the criticism leveled against their father is so severe. They can see what is going on and notice the hypocrisy. This is also why they are able to eventually control the gang of boys. They have a very keen eye for motivation and outcome.
I was also somewhat impressed with the portrayal of the parents as well. Yeah, the dad did end up smacking the older boy, but it's obvious that he's not thrilled about it, just horribly frustrated. I can't imagine what it must be like to be called out on something like that by your, what? ten year old? He knows he's not satisfied with his life, but he's doing the best he can. Then his own son comes along and demands answers for it all. The mom initially just sat there, you know, father knows best and all, but afterwards she confronts him on it too and they discuss their parenting style o_O I wasn't expecting that.
Sometimes silent movies can get bogged down and boring, but this one was fairly painless :D