Musings from the basement...

A Month of Kurosawa: The Hidden Fortress (1958)

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 Hidden Fortress (1958) The Hidden Fortress may be best known for being a major inspiration for Star Wars — George Lucas says the inspiration for R2-D2 and C-3PO came from this movie, but in fact he lifted much of the plot from it, too, along with characters like Obi-Wan Kenobi and Princess Leia — but focusing overmuch on that connection undersells just how…
Read more

A Month of Kurosawa: The Lower Depths (1957)

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 Lower Depths (1957) Kurosawa’s interest in exploring the plight of the underclasses did not end when his exploration of postwar Japan ended, nor did his interest in western literature ever wane. The Lower Depths, an adaption of the stage play by Maxim Gorky, combines those ideas into one compact film — and it’s a great one. The Lower Depths looks at the lives…
Read more

A Month of Kurosawa: Throne of Blood (1957)

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! Throne of Blood (1957) In the 1940s and 1950s, director Alfred Hitchcock went on one of the greatest creative tears in cinema history. Between 1940’s Rebecca to 1960’s Psycho, he directed anywhere from 10 to a dozen bona fide classics and another half-dozen immensely enjoyable suspense films. Few directors, if any, have ever had a run so good (and it doesn’t even include 1938’s…
Read more

A Month of Kurosawa: I Live in Fear (1955)

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! I Live in Fear (1955) aka Record of a Living Being How do you follow one of the greatest epics of all time, Seven Samurai? You don’t. Or rather, you try something completely different. Following the gigantic undertaking that was Seven Samurai, Akira Kurosawa aimed for something a little smaller: a meditation on fear of the atomic bomb. Starring Toshiro Mifune as an old…
Read more

A Month of Kurosawa: Seven Samurai (1954)

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! Seven Samurai (1954) I have a weakness for epics. When I see that a movie has an absurdly long run time, I find myself instantly intrigued. I’m not sure why. It’s not as if run time is a sign of quality. For every Lawrence of Arabia or Once Upon a Time in America, there are two dozen bloated “epics” that would have been far…
Read more