Musings from the basement...

A Month of Kurosawa: Red Beard (1965)

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! Red Beard (1965) There has perhaps never been a film partnership as fruitful as the one between Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune. They made a string of classics together, helping launch one another into international stardom and into the annals of film history. But due to a personal falling out, Red Beard would be their last film together. Though not beloved by critics, I…
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A Month of Kurosawa: High and Low (1963)

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! High and Low (1963) From the very start of his career, Akira Kurosawa was concerned with exploring the class divide, delving into the things that separates the wealthy from the poor. He had perhaps never explored this idea so nakedly as he did in High and Low, called Heaven and Hell in Japan, a film split in two just as the society it depicts…
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A Month of Kurosawa: Sanjuro (1962)

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! Sanjuro (1962) It’s interesting that a film best known for its bloody final duel (a scene that proved highly influential to directors like Quentin Tarantino) and a sequel to the often violent Yojimbo is in reality a meditation on non-violence. Yojimbo was such a huge success that Kurosawa got right to work on a sequel. Sanjuro follows the titular character on another western-like adventure,…
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A Month of Kurosawa: Yojimbo (1961)

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! Yojimbo (1961) In 1957, Miles Davis released the album Birth of the Cool (though it was actually recorded in 1949 and 1950). It was a landmark record that helped change the face of jazz to come. Akira Kurosawa’s 1961 samurai classic Yojimbo could also have been called Birth of the Cool, given that it spawned an entire genre of badasses in western flicks, led…
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A Month of Kurosawa: The Bad Sleep Well (1960)

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 Bad Sleep Well (1960) Following a string of period pieces, Akira Kurosawa jumped back to contemporary Japan for his look at corporate corruption, The Bad Sleep Well. It’s been called by some a loose adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, though to be frank, I think that’s a stretch. Regardless, it’s a slow burning look at the way in which corruption can ruin lives. More…
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