02 July 2008

It's time again for another installment of the Snotty Art Film Hour's Foreign Cinema Roundtable Snootfest!

If you missed our last episode, chronicling my opinions on what I would say are the more common and well-known Akira Kurosawa movies, click here to get caught up. Now on to the new Kurosawa movies, in order of production!

Ikiru - 1952 - Ikiru was a sad, somber movie. A pathetic main character facing a terminal illness realizes how meaningless and mundane his life (centered around the drudgery of an bureaucratic office job) has been up to that point, making his impending death that much more awful. Not really a fun movie, but a well made one. The scene at the end where Takashi Shimura (playing the lead) sings a song while sitting on a swingset is eery and creepy, probably due to Kurosawa's love for slowing down the pitch of recorded singing for effect (also used in the witch scene in Throne of Blood).

The Lower Depths - 1957 - A depressing little vignette of Japanese poverty, based on a Russian play of the same name by Maxim Gorky. Very Shakespearean, and remains comic in tone in spite of the worst of circumstances. Not a favourite, but not that bad.

The Hidden Fortress - 1958 - This should be called Star Wars, Episode 3.9, The Original Hope. There are so many overt influences on Lucas in this, as well as a number of subtle, stylistic influences. This is a good action/adventure film, at least for Japanese movies, and it does fairly well in that regard. But this is the film that inspired Star Wars, and for that it gets a bit of extra distinction.

The Bad Sleep Well - 1960 - Ahh, the corporate subterfuge movies. This is "Hamlet" updated to post-war industrial Japan, with the main character seeking to discover and expose his father's murderers.

Red Beard - 1965 - A young, ambitious doctor gets a very poor assignment working under a wise but harsh older doctor in a rural hospital. This is an amalgam of many smaller stories (of individual patients) held together by the central story, which worked fairly well, but its a bit long at three hours.

Ran - 1985 - Strange to see these movies in colour; this is a good adaptation of King Lear to feudal Japan, but honestly doesn't have the (for lack of a better word) punch of some of the earlier movies. It seems a bit stilted and forced, and wearying to the viewer after a while. Still, what it does, it does well.

9 comments:

Percussivity said...

What would be the film-media equivalent be of a "well read" individual? I'd say you were well watched but that sounds a little creepy and ominous.

The Irascible Neufonzola said...

I would venture to contradict you there...I'm not any more "well watched" than the average Netflix subscriber, but the difference with me is a natural instinct I have to devote to certain specifics and sacrifice general overall knowledge for very specific knowledge. Thus, I couldn't talk intelligently for more than 30 seconds about foreign film in general, but I'm slowly (to the annoyance of my patient wife) watching the entire catalog of Akira Kurosawa movies (I've since forced myself to abstain calling them "films").

In similar fashion, I can talk at length about very specific bands, like the Cream, Steely Dan, etc., but I will draw a complete blank on many of the most popular songs of that same era. I have listened to Chicago Transit Authority and Chicago II backwards and forwards so many times I know them by heart, but I'd be hardpressed to name another single Chicago album that I've listened to in entirety. I have an aggressively focused knowledge of beer, cider, mead, and many spirits, but I'm an absolute dunce on wine. To illustrate, I'd even consider a German riesling with a steak. Ja ja, das ist how ich roll.

your wife said...

military time on our computer? that's too far!

The Irascible Neufonzola said...

I HAVE ONLY BEGUN!

In fact, I forgot to change the ":" separator to a "." separator, like I am using here at work, which I think looks nicely clean, European, and pretentious. As in, I get off work at 16.30, in about 3 hours.

Oh, the unbridled power of Regional and Language Settings!

The Irascible Neufonzola said...

Look out! I'm OUTTA CONTROL! The Comments are now time-stamped in accordance to the ISO 8601 standards!

The Unabashed Blogger said...

Military time the is the only way to go. You never have to wonder if you were supposed to pick up your wife at 6 am or pm; that could cause some BIG problems! It's either 0600 or 1800 hrs. We're just doing everyone else a favor.

They probably would not incorporate it into our schools however until their elemtary clock reading and math skills are on par with 18 year olds getting slammed in boot camps the nation over.

The Unabashed Blogger said...

Oh gees.. I misstyped elementary. Just ignore it...Ironic that I was making fun of our edukation systim...

The Angry Coder said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Angry Coder said...

And then there's metric time. That'd make life really simple.

I typoed this statement badly the first time. That's why I have a comment that is removed.