Musings from the basement...

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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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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