Author Archive: Eric San Juan

A Month of Kurosawa: The Idiot (1951)

To celebrate the upcoming release of my book, Akira Kurosawa: A Viewer’s Guide, due out Dec. 15 from Rowman & Littlefield — preorder here! — I’ll be doing capsule reviews all month covering every single Kurosawa film and posting (very) brief excerpts. These will be short impressions and recommendations, nothing more. For a full, detailed analysis of each, grab the book! The Idiot (1951) Following Rashomon, Akira Kurosawa tackled something quite different: a faithful adaptation of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Idiot. Much like the book, it’s a sprawling, sometimes glacial affair focused on a complex web of interpersonal relationships. His initial cut came in at an imposing four and a half hours. At the behest of the studio he cut it down to three hours, then a…
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A Month of Kurosawa: Rashomon (1950)

To celebrate the upcoming release of my book, Akira Kurosawa: A Viewer’s Guide, due out Dec. 15 from Rowman & Littlefield — preorder here! — I’ll be doing capsule reviews all month covering every single Kurosawa film and posting (very) brief excerpts. These will be short impressions and recommendations, nothing more. For a full, detailed analysis of each, grab the book! Rashomon (1950) Reams upon reams have been written about Rashomon. It’s likely to be among the two or three Kurosawa films even casual film viewers have seen, or at least heard of, so for this capsule review series I won’t talk about it at length. I do in the book — it’s among the longest chapters — but when it comes to giving a…
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A Month of Kurosawa: Scandal (1950)

To celebrate the upcoming release of my book, Akira Kurosawa: A Viewer’s Guide, due out Dec. 15 from Rowman & Littlefield — preorder here! — I’ll be doing capsule reviews all month covering every single Kurosawa film and posting (very) brief excerpts. These will be short impressions and recommendations, nothing more. For a full, detailed analysis of each, grab the book! Scandal (1950) In the years immediately following the end of World War II, Akira Kurosawa found himself increasingly frustrated with the sometimes salacious turn Japan’s newly free media had taken, with too many tabloids dishing out celebrity gossip and rumors. With Scandal, he decided to confront that issue head-on. Well, until Takashi Shimura’s character began to steal the spotlight, that is. Here, an artist portrayed…
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A Month of Kurosawa: Stray Dog (1949)

To celebrate the upcoming release of my book, Akira Kurosawa: A Viewer’s Guide, due out Dec. 15 from Rowman & Littlefield — preorder here! — I’ll be doing capsule reviews all month covering every single Kurosawa film and posting (very) brief excerpts. These will be short impressions and recommendations, nothing more. For a full, detailed analysis of each, grab the book! Stray Dog (1949) “Masterpiece” is probably a word that gets thrown around a little too easily, especially when discussing movies, but it’s hard not to use the word when discussing 1949’s Stray Dog, a gritty crime noir by Akira Kurosawa that peels back the curtain on postwar Japan’s underground crime scene and presents some stark moral questions in the process. Stray Dog once again…
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A Month of Kurosawa: The Quiet Duel (1949)

To celebrate the upcoming release of my book, Akira Kurosawa: A Viewer’s Guide, due out Dec. 15 from Rowman & Littlefield — preorder here! — I’ll be doing capsule reviews all month covering every single Kurosawa film and posting (very) brief excerpts. These will be short impressions and recommendations, nothing more. For a full, detailed analysis of each, grab the book! The Quiet Duel (1949) Toshiro Mifune as a doctor stricken with a sexually-transmitted disease? Sure, why not! Kurosawa’s 1949 drama about a doctor dealing with a terrible secret doesn’t get much attention. It might be easy to blame the studio (this was the director’s first work outside the Toho system) or the lack of a strong home release version (there is no Criterion edition…
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