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Ikiru

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Dec 31 2010

What does it mean to live? Kurosawa’s masterpiece. Gentle and profound.

Kanji Watanabe is a longtime bureaucrat in a city office who, along with the rest of the office, spends his entire working life doing nothing of (more…)
96% liked it

PG, 2 hr. 23 min.

Director: Akira Kurosawa

Released: Mar 25, 1956

DVD: Jan 6, 2004

Seven Samurai

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Dec 31 2010

Perfect blend of art and entertainment. Three and a half hours and not a boring second. Kurosawa takes his time in establishing every major character. Revolutionary and hugely influential battle scenes. In many respects, an anti-samurai film.

A poor village under attack by bandits recruits seven unemployed samurai to help them defend themselves.
96% liked it

Unrated, 2 hr. 40 min.

Director: Akira Kurosawa

Released: Apr 26, 1954

DVD: Mar 1, 1999

Ran

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Dec 31 2010

Kurosawa’s most epic and colorful masterpiece. Loosely based on King Lear, it is gloriously tragic. Akira’s crowning achievement could only have been made at his ripe old age, bringing infinite wisdom to the story. The authenticity is assured and the humility and grand scale is awe-inspiring. The battle scenes are perceived as if through the perspective of the Gods. They weep at our tragic chaos. At one point, even their weeping is silenced as the Eldest brother is shot. Straight through the image of the sun, representing a God-like death. By the end, humanity is on the edge of disaster, blind and ignorant with the loss of spirituality. Shakespeare would have been proud.

A version of Shakespeare’s “King Lear,” set in feudal Japan where aging ruler, Lord Hidetora, unleashes a power struggle amongst his three sons.
94% liked it

R, 2 hr. 40 min.

Director: Akira Kurosawa

Released: Jun 1, 1985

DVD: Nov 22, 2005

High and Low

1 Comment | This entry was posted on Dec 31 2010

The finest detective thriller ever filmed. But that’s just skimming the surface. Kurosawa remains the emperor of cinema. It’s remarkable just how much suspense and emotional involvement we get from one room with a few characters. The choreography and character proximities throughout is inspiring. Kurosawa clearly knows how to use the anamorphic lens. The second half/detective story is riveting. The finale transcends the crime genre and makes a bold statement with some of the most amazing imagery ever put to screen. This is the work of a true master.

An executive mortgages all he owns to stage a coup and gain control of the National Shoe Company, with the intent of keeping the company out of the (more…)
94% liked it

Unrated, 2 hr. 23 min.

Director: Akira Kurosawa

Released: Nov 26, 1963

DVD: Oct 13, 1998

Dersu Uzala

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Dec 31 2010

An epic tale on the story of man and mother nature. Kurosawa’s Russian journey through the wilderness of friendship and old age.

An eccentric Mongolian frontiersman is taken on as a guide by a Soviet surveying party.
94% liked it

G, 2 hr. 17 min.

Director: Akira Kurosawa

Released: Aug 2, 1975

DVD: Oct 17, 2000

Red Beard

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Dec 31 2010

If you can get past the long running time and occasional overt sentimentality, this is one of the most rewarding films in Kurosawa’s canon. This marked the end of an era for him; his final film with Toho company, his last collaboration with the great Mifune, his final black-and-white film (his second last film in cinemascope) and most importantly, his swan song to optimism. After this remarkably hopeful story, Kurosawa’s world view would turn much darker. Financial failure, Hollywood blacklisting, extreme illness and attempted suicide would follow. With that in mind, Red Beard remains an extremely emotional experience for me. The sheer humility and supreme goodness of this film is so utterly inspiring. It’s an honorable movie, with many memorable characters, photographed in a way that makes every mis-en-scene look like a painting. Clearly, Kurosawa was in his prime and no other film in his body of work holds melancholy and hope in such equal measure.

In a charity hospital, a hard-bitten but honorable older doctor, Dr. Niide, takes a young intern under his guidance through the course of a number of (more…)
94% liked it

Unrated, 3 hr. 5 min.

Director: Akira Kurosawa

Released: Apr 3, 1965

DVD: Jul 16, 2002

Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Dec 31 2010

Kurosawa’s most visually striking film. Eight hypnotic and eloquent short segments. Spielberg presented this film in Europe, while Lucas’ ILM company did the effects and finally, who wouldn’t want to see Scorsese playing Van Gogh? It’s the pacing and experiment in time that makes one experience this film in a particular fashion. Like staring at a painting for an extended period of time, we are slowly drawn into each dream world. Beautifully captivating.

A collection of tales based upon the actual dreams of director Akira Kurosawa.
86% liked it

PG, 2 hr.

Director: Akira Kurosawa, Ishirô Honda

Released: May 1, 1990

DVD: Mar 18, 2003

Throne of Blood

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Dec 31 2010

Definitive Kurosawa. Arguably the greatest Shakespearean adaptation on screen. Hypnotic and totally cinematic.

Macbeth is reimagined as a samurai in feudal Japan in director Akira Kurosawa’s classic adaptation of the Shakespearean tragedy. Familiar with Orson (more…)
93% liked it

Unrated, 1 hr. 45 min.

Director: Akira Kurosawa

Released: Jan 1, 1957

DVD: May 27, 2003

Sanjuro

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Dec 31 2010

The sequel to Yojimbo is superior in wit, satire, action and humor. One of the greatest samurai movies. (Later remade into For a Few Dollars More…)

A crafty samurai helps a young man and his fellow clansmen save his uncle, who has been framed and imprisoned by a corrupt superintendent.
94% liked it

PG-13, 1 hr. 36 min.

Director: Akira Kurosawa

Released: Jan 1, 1962

DVD: Sep 28, 1999

Dodes’ ka-den

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Dec 31 2010

Kurosawa’s first color film is a brilliant episodic story about lower class people who escape from reality using their imagination. It’s a mosaic of funny, melancholy and profound vignettes.

Episodes from the lives of a group of Tokyo slum-dwellers: Rokkuchan, a retarded boy who brings meaning and routine to his life by driving an (more…)
80% liked it

Unrated, 2 hr. 20 min.

Director: Akira Kurosawa

Released: Oct 31, 1970