Skip to main content

Movie Stuff: Akira Kurosawa Films and Influenced Films

Last week was Akira Kurosawa week at my place. I have a deep-seated love of everything Japanese. About two years ago, I watched The Seven Samurai, which was one of the BEST movies I have ever seen, hands down. I had heard so much about this movie in pop culture but was never sure what all the fuss was about. It took me several days to get through the film, but it was heavy with meaning. It made think about what is a hero? And what is the cost of being a hero? In the Seven Samurai, poor farmers seek out the help of seven samurai to fight off bandits. The bandits regularly stop by and steal the crops they all slaved to grow. The townspeople know they need help.

They find these samurai superheroes that can kick butt, but most of them also have lovable personalities that make you want to take them home and keep them as a pet. I especially liked the leader of band (played by the amazing Takashi Shimura) and the comic character, Kikuchiyo (Toshiro Mifune). As the town learn how to fight and defend their homes, the whole community changes from a sniveling, helpless bunch into fearsome warriors proud of their heritage. It is amazing how the samurai and the townspeople come together. You can also see that the samurai long for some of the things that the townsmen have: wives, kids, and a home.

There are so many wonderful moments, and you will be surprised at what happens at the end. For a hint, just ask yourself this question: When a hero who is a loner risks everything to help the weak and helpless, what reward does he receive at the end? Of course, what did he really risk if he owns nothing? Also, why would a loner who has no money or possessions of his own do this for a group of people that could pay them next to nothing? The movie is an action movie, but it has all the emotional depth of an epic. You can see that although I watched this film years ago, it still haunts me.

Okay, fast forward to last week. I watched Rashomon, another Kurosawa film, and The Magnificent Seven, a Western rendering of the Seven Samurai. Neither was as impressive as the masterpiece mentioned above, but they both had their merits.

Rashomon is a story told in multiple perspectives. A bandit, a samurai, his wife, and a woodcutter passing by all tell their own versions of a story where we know two facts: the samurai was killed and the bandit and the woman had intercourse. But everyone has their own version of the truth. Who is telling the truth? There was a more contemporary movie called Hero where they used the same story-telling strategy. Rashomon is interesting, but I got tired of watching the people stare at each other in horror. Every action took so long to happen. There was this one scene where the bandit and samurai are fighting and it just . . . takes . . . so . . . long. Still it’s a classic Japanese film.

The Magnificent Seven had wonderful acting performances, a catchy musical score, and gads of funny lines. But the whole did not amount to more than its parts. I did, however, enjoy the trailer: “Seven, seven, sevennnnnn. The magnificent sevennnnn.”


Popular posts from this blog

Riley Stearns' The Art of Self-Defense (2019) Movie Review: Do NOT Talk About Night Class

In 1999, David Fincher directed the book to movie Fight Club, a dark stylized comedy about a group of men who form a "support group" of sorts called Fight Club, where they pair up for no holds barred unarmed first fights with one another. Organized by the charismatic Tyler Durden, for a time, the meetings seem to be a good thing. Things start to spiral when the hero realizes Tyler is no good and must be stopped.

In many surface ways, The Art of Self-Defense is quite similar. Casey (Jesse Eisenberg) walks around like he is apologizing for taking up oxygen. He lives alone with his dog and works at a boring, thankless job as an accountant. One day, Jesse is attacked on the street by some unidentified motorcycle riders. He's hospitalized for his wounds and takes some times off work.

On a walk around town, he overhears a karate class and goes into observe. He feels intrigued and inspired by what he sees and decide to sign up for classes. He hopes that he can "become wha…

Ali Abassi's Border (2018): A Dark Swedish Fairy Tale

Have you ever felt like you are alone? Like you exist and move around in a community of people that you are nothing like?

Imagine how Tina feels. She works as a highly competent border guard for the sole reason that her sense of smell is extrasensory. She can smell fear, shame, and any negative emotion on people as they cross through her security area, and she is never wrong about her suspicions. Her work career, however, might be the only thing she has going for her.

She lives on the outskirts of town with a boyfriend that owns a pack of dogs, and from all counts, they live together in a loveless domestic arrangement that is hard to imagine either of them conceiving. Things become a little clearer later as we learn that Tina owns the home and the boyfriend is enjoying the luxury of living rent free. Tina appears to have no family except for the man she calls father, who claims to have adopted her.

Tina is unattractive by human standards and is most often seen staring attentively and …

Alfonso Cuarón's Roma (2018) A Window into the Life of a Working Class Woman

For every person who keeps their hands clean and smooth from doing heavy duty manual labor, there are people who work thanklessly in the background, making life comfortable for those few. This is the subject of Roma, a film set in Mexico City with original screenplay written in Spanish. Roma takes one of those hardworking people and brings her front and center.

Cleo is the housekeeper of a middle-class family in the 1970s. She cleans the house, cleans the dog poo off the house entrance, brings the family tea, and serves them at mealtime. Cleo comes across as diligent, hardworking, sweet, shy, non-demanding, and loving. The children seem to adore her. She is a constant in their lives, and they treat her as one would expect a person who demands or expects nothing in return. At times, she’s like wallpaper. Other times, they are affectionate with her and desire her attention.

There isn’t much plot to this movie. Cleo does have some romantic adventures and deals with an unexpected pregn…