Movies We've Just Watched discussion


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message 1: by Beth (new)

Beth My husband and I watched this last night. He loves Akira Kurosawa and samurai movies, so he was happy that we finally got to watch this together. It was amazing. Toshiro Mifune, who plays the samurai, is such a commanding presence, one of those actors you are compelled to watch. Such an air of menace, kind of brings to mind Jimmy Cagney in his gangster movies. I was surprised at the comedy of this movie, which was quite unexpected. I also loved the moral ambiguity, which is something you don't often see in recent American movies, I think: two sides, both evil, pitted against each other by a lone figure who isn't quite good, but is the most honorable person of the bunch. I wish I had seen this before I saw Clint Eastwood's "Man With No Name" movies. Reading the DVD insert after watching Yojimbo, I learned that Sergio Leone copied it almost shot for shot to make Fistful of Dollars. The score of Yojimbo also reminded me a lot of Morricone's music for the Leone movies. Apparently, a lot of movies have copied this plot, such as a movie with Bruce Willis called Last Man Standing. It also reminds me of a movie I love with Samuel L. Jackson and Sean Nelson, called Fresh.

message 2: by Robert (new)

Robert | 51 comments It's a great film, and certainly one of the most accessible Kurosawas. (The sequel isn't nearly as good.)
I wouldn't say that Leone remade it "shot for shot", but the influence is pretty strong. Leone also pointed out that much of the plot is similar to an old play called "Servant of Two Masters", while I believe Kurosawa named Hammett's "Red Harvest" as an inspiration.
"Last Man Standing" was a disappointment, though I don't remember much about it. (It's set in the 20s or 30s, so it's kind of a return to the Hammett influence...)
"Fresh" is a wonderful and sadly neglected film, but the parallel to "Yojimbo" - a free agent working between two opposing sides - had never occurred to me before.

message 3: by Beth (new)

Beth I think Fresh is terrific, very underrated. Glad to see someone else thinks so. We'll probably try to watch Sanjuro soon. I'm hoping to watch more Kurosawa over the next few months. I remember trying to watch Ran with my husband when we were first married, and I hated it, but I would have to say that my cinematic sensibilities are much more finely tuned now than in the past. (Don't get me wrong, I still watch a lot of crap, and with great relish!) So, I'm hoping the second time seeing Ran will bring a different impression. I can thank the Criterion Collection for opening my eyes to so many great foreign films. We try to buy a couple new ones every couple of months or so. Recently, we've seen Rififi, The Wages of Fear, and Thieves' Highway, all of which I loved. Robert you seem pretty knowledgeable, so I'm betting you've seen those.

message 4: by Robert (new)

Robert | 51 comments I haven't seen "Thieves Highway" or "Rififi" yet but I'll try to get around to them one of these days. As for Kurosawa, I love "Ran", but it's one of his later works and not necessarily the best place to start. But don't miss "Seven Samurai", "Rashomon" and - in an entirely different vein "Ikiru". For an unusual change of pace, "High and Low" is a first rate contemporary genre film, and "The Hidden Fortress" - the inspiration for "Star Wars" - is fun. Kurosawa also made a lot of lesser-known and decidedly minor films before making an international name for himself with "Rashomon", but I find many of his earlier films to be charming. Criterion is releasing a few of them soon under their "Eclipse" series...

message 5: by melbourne (new)

melbourne (cocho) | 80 comments Kurosawa was certainly slouch behind the camera. His samurai-related films, alone, can keep one enthralled for evenings on end. He certainly made an impact on subsequent filmmakers, as he too was influenced by Western director John Ford. I would also recommend High and Low, The Seven Samurai, and Ran for other great films by Kurosawa. As someone mentioned, several of them are available from the Criterion Collection, which does amazing work with remastering and worthwhile bonus features.


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