Musings from the basement...

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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Listen to This: Bettie Serveert, “Palomine” (1992)

A series in which I recommend music that might have flown under your radar. Bettie Seveert – Palomine Listen if you like: Matthew Sweet, early Lissie, Sebadoh, awesome songs “Bettie Serveert” sounds like a person’s name, but it’s actually a Dutch indie rock band that has been going since 1991 or so. And yeah, they are STILL going strong nearly 30 years later! As I write this, they are 10 albums deep into their career. Deservedly so, too. This recommendation is of their debut, Palomine, and it’s a winner. I remember jamming with this when it came out in 1992, but at the time it wasn’t “heavy” enough to make waves in the alternative scene. Too bad. The record was fantastic then and is still great…
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A Month of Kurosawa: Drunken Angel (1948)

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! Drunken Angel (1948) Here’s a recipe for movie magic: Put Toshiro Mifune on screen. Pair him with Takashi Shimura. And have Akira Kurosawa direct them. Still a no-name actor, this was Mifune’s first of many roles for Kurosawa, and he came out of the gate strong. The always reliable Shimura was supposed to be the lead here, but Mifune steals so many scenes it…
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A Month of Kurosawa: One Wonderful Sunday (1947)

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! One Wonderful Sunday (1947) Released in 1947, One Wonderful Sunday follows a young couple through post-war Japan as they struggle to enjoy their life despite being destitute. They’re poor, hungry, and desperate, with little brightness ahead of them in the rough years after World War II, but they try their best to make it work. “People only realize the value of money when they’re…
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A Month of Kurosawa: No Regrets For Our Youth (1946)

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! No Regrets For Our Youth (1946) No Regrets For Our Youth was a post-war drama by Akira Kurosawa that mixes equal parts political protest, love triangle, and family drama. Kurosawa’s pictures are virtually always political in some way — he had a tremendous focus on social consciousness — but they were rarely overtly political. Rather, you often had to read between the lines to…
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