AK-Film #3-I Live in Fear (1955)

December 20, 2010

Claustrophobic. Slowly-paced. Tense.

Strangely Toshiro Mifune plays an elderly man in this film. Paranoid about atomic weaponry, he goes about sacrificing the needs of his family and others who depend on him all in the name of finding shelter from the bomb.

Kurosawa’s comment on the world’s state of mind in the early years of the cold war may be lost on those who did not grow up in such times. I believe it would take living with your country having been previously nuked to truly connect with the film. Still, one can’t help but feel respect for the old man while disdain for the children who seem less concerned with his wellbeing and more with getting their hands on his sizable estate.

I Live in Fear plays slow, deliberate, and subtle. I suggest pairing with a nice Irish whiskey or an Australian Cabernet.

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AK—Film #2—High Low (1963)

March 1, 2010

So so sorry for the ultra-delayed posting. I watched this a couple weeks ago, but haven’t had it in me to do a proper write up.

I really wish I had the drive to do a full write up, but honestly I don’t. I’ll just say a few words:

  1. My favorite Kurosawa thus far.

I’ll try to revisit this one after completing my series, which from the looks of it won’t be done for a very very long time.

Toshiro Mifune=The man

Here’s the remaining list. I think i’ll mix it up a bit from here, jumping around to Hidden Fortress most likely.

  1. Sanshiro Sugata (1943)
  2. Sanshiro Sugata, Part Two (1945)
  3. Seven Samurai (1954)
  4. Throne of Blood (1957)
  5. Ikiru (1952)
  6. The Most Beautiful (1944)
  7. Kagemusha (1980)
  8. The Men Who Tread on The Tiger’s Tail (1945)
  9. No Regrets for our Youth (1946)
  10. The Hidden Fortress (1958)
  11. One Wonderful Sunday (1947)
  12. Red Beard (1965)
  13. Drunken Angel (1948)
  14. Scandal (1950)
  15. The Idiot (1951)
  16. Stray Dog (1949)
  17. The Bad Sleep Well (1960)
  18. I Live In Fear (1955)
  19. Dodes’ka-Den (1970)
  20. The Lower Depths (1957)
  21. Yojimbo (1961)
  22. Madadayo (1993)
  23. Sanjuro (1962)

AK—Film #1—Rashomon (1950)

January 13, 2010

It seems the two times I’ve watched Rashomon I was sleepy and not entirely alert. Likewise, the film has felt almost dreamlike in my mind (just watched it within the hour). Rashomon is about truth—or rather the subjectivity of —as well as the inherent good/evil of man. Much like a dream, it is difficult to make out what really happens. The same story is told several times from differing perspectives. Simiar Obi-Wan telling luke that Vader killed Anikan, the stories all contain a bit of truth in them, albeit from different points of view.

Much could and has been said about Rashomon. Symbolism, camera techniques, storytelling: Rashomon breaks ground in these areas and more.

Both the music and the camera shots are dreamlike at times—not a criticism at all. The pulse of the drums, the shadows of the leaves—everything plays on the senses.

Aside from Kurosawa’s greatness, Toshiro Mifune (above) really shows his acting talent here. Very charismatic and energetic. He holds a screen presence much like a Brando—suspending our disbelief and captivating the audience without encroaching on the film. Mifune gives exactly what the story needs: no more, no less.

Rashomon is probably the best starting point for Kurosawa and maybe early foreign cinema. Some have criticized it for being too western and not Japanese enough. I say Rashomon transcends cultural boundaries, establishing itself as world cinema. It takes the best of film everywhere, and innovates just enough. Most importantly, Rashomon ultimately leaves the story up to the viewer to decide. What do you take from it?

Much like my viewing, this post feels dreamlike. I do hope coherence made its way into the post somehow…

That concludes part one. In case you missed it, here is the rest of the viewing schedule:

  1. High and Low (1963)
  2. Sanshiro Sugata (1943)
  3. Sanshiro Sugata, Part Two (1945)
  4. Seven Samurai (1954)
  5. Throne of Blood (1957)
  6. Ikiru (1952)
  7. The Most Beautiful (1944)
  8. Kagemusha (1980)
  9. The Men Who Tread on The Tiger’s Tail (1945)
  10. No Regrets for our Youth (1946)
  11. The Hidden Fortress (1958)
  12. One Wonderful Sunday (1947)
  13. Red Beard (1965)
  14. Drunken Angel (1948)
  15. Scandal (1950)
  16. The Idiot (1951)
  17. Stray Dog (1949)
  18. The Bad Sleep Well (1960)
  19. I Live In Fear (1955)
  20. Dodes’ka-Den (1970)
  21. The Lower Depths (1957)
  22. Yojimbo (1961)
  23. Madadayo (1993)
  24. Sanjuro (1962)

Upcoming Akira Kurosawa Series (of sorts)

January 8, 2010

So, I got this for Christmas.

If you can’t tell, it is the 25 films of Akira Kurosawa box set. Four films of his aren’t included (Dreams, Ran, Rhapsody in August, The Quiet Duel, Dersu Uzala), but as you can see: most of his work is amply represented here. As you can guess, I’m gonna begin going through these film by film—a sort of study if you will. I shall post my thoughts/musing/etc and perhaps a review on each film as a way to keep me up to the task and for both our reader’s enjoyment. I would love to do this weekly, but I’m sure i’ll get off track somewhere due to lawschool (especially near semester’s end). However, there are plenty of weeks in the year, and I’m sure to be done before next Christmas. For those playing along at home, I thought I would provide a list of planned viewing. I don’t wish to go through the set chronologically, as that might prove too stale and daunting (you wouldn’t start a study of Scorsese with “The Big Shave” or “Who’s that knocking at my door,” you would start with Taxi Driver or maybe Raging Bull). As follows is my planned watch-list. This is subject to change aside from the first few films (I think).

  1. Rashomon (1950)
  2. High and Low (1963)
  3. Sanshiro Sugata (1943)
  4. Sanshiro Sugata, Part Two (1945)
  5. Seven Samurai (1954)
  6. Throne of Blood (1957)
  7. Ikiru (1952)
  8. The Most Beautiful (1944)
  9. Kagemusha (1980)
  10. The Men Who Tread on The Tiger’s Tail (1945)
  11. No Regrets for our Youth (1946)
  12. The Hidden Fortress (1958)
  13. One Wonderful Sunday (1947)
  14. Red Beard (1965)
  15. Drunken Angel (1948)
  16. Scandal (1950)
  17. The Idiot (1951)
  18. Stray Dog (1949)
  19. The Bad Sleep Well (1960)
  20. I Live In Fear (1955)
  21. Dodes’ka-Den (1970)
  22. The Lower Depths (1957)
  23. Yojimbo (1961)
  24. Madadayo (1993)
  25. Sanjuro (1962)

And there you have it. Quite a long list now that I’ve typed it all out. They’re arranged mostly based on runtime and sometimes date of release. I didn’t want to be watching 3 hour epics in a row, so they’re split up as well as possible. Hope you can join me on what should be an education and entertaining foray into the films of Akira Kurosawa.

P.S. First post probably this weekend or by next (don’t hold me to it!)