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Monday, April 3 The Chaos of Cool: A Tribute to Seijun Suzuki
In February, cinema lost an icon of excess, Seijun Suzuki, the Japanese master who took the art of the B movie to sublime new heights with his deliriously inventive approach to narrative and visual style. This series showcases seven of the New Wave renegade’s works from his career breakthrough in the sixties: Take Aim at the Police Van (1960), an off-kilter whodunit; Youth of the Beast (1963), an explosive yakuza thriller; Gate of Flesh (1964), a pulpy social critique; Story of a Prostitute (1965), a tragic romance; Tokyo Drifter
Reviewed by Glenn Erickson
The first Blu-ray of perhaps
Kill! is an entertaining and unusual take on the samurai/swordplay genre that plays for laughs many of the conventional tropes and set-ups common in the classic films from that tradition. I was fascinated observing how many of the fighting techniques, interpersonal conflicts, man vs. world showdowns and dramatic battle scenes that impact viewers with awe-inspiring tension can become a showcase of hilarity with just a slight exaggeration of tone, body language or facial expression (or simply cranking the fans that stir up dust clouds an extra notch or two.) Barking dialog that would come across as solemn and severe in more straightforward, traditional chanbara epics conveys much of the same surface meaning in advancing the story along in Kill! but also ends up generating a nice side helping of mirth in the process. Though at least one review considers
Written by Shinobu Hashimoto
Directed Masaki Kobayashi
In 18th century Edo Japan, long-time friends Isaburo Sasahara (Toshiro Mufine) and Tatewaki Asano (Tatsuya Nakadai) of the Aisu clan joyfully anticipate a fast approaching annual festival, but all is not well. Isaburo’s son, Yogoro (Go Kato), needs to be wed soon, yet the perfect bride whose status would respect their family honour has yet to be found. This weighs on Isaburo’s wife, the severe Sugo (Michiko Otsuka), even more so than on Isaburo himself. Familial recognition and pride is at stake, two important factors put to the test when the Aisu clan lord, Masakata Matsudaira (Tatsuo Matsumura), decides that his former mistress, Ichi (Yoko Tsukasa), is to be given to them. Controversy stems from the fact that Ichi was actually dismissed from their lord’s court following a rather unorthodox and unexpected emotional outburst.
Reviewed by Glenn Erickson
Written by Shinobu Hashimoto and Yasuhiko Takiguchi
Directed by Masaki Kobayashi
In the early 17th century, the Iyi clan abides by the bushido code to the letter in all its facets, sepukku, the traditional samurai suicide ceremony by which a warrior disembowels himself before being decapitated, being no exception. It is on a bright sunny day that one Tsugumo Hanshirô (Tatsuya Nakadai) arrives at the Iyi estate, currently run by Saitô Kageyu (Rentarô Mikuni), to plead for space in order to perform a honourable act of seppuku. He claims that the regional peace has led to unemployment, and rather live like a dog, suicide as ordained by bushido seems preferable. Knowledgeable of the occurrences of bluff requests made by other ronin samurai that were merely looking for pittance, Saitô is suspicious of Hanshirô’s motives and begins to relate a recent story of another, younger former warrior (Akira Ishihama
Directed by Masaki Kobayashi.
Starring Tatsuya Nakadai, Akira Ishihama, Shima Iwashita, Rentaro Mikuni, Kei Sato and Tetsuro Tanba.
An elder ronin samurai arrives at a feudal lord's home and requests an honorable place to commit suicide. But when the ronin inquires about a younger samurai who arrived before him things take an unexpected turn.
Of all the many features he churns out in a year, Takashi Miike didn’t need to direct a remake of Masaki Kobayashis Harakiri. Simply put, Miike didn’t need to update Harakiri for modern audiences – there’s nothing tame about Kobayashi’s original, not in its anti-authoritarian stance, its downbeat attitude to the rich/poor divide or in its cutting violence. Films so overtly about the evaporation of honour in the modern world or the system crushing the little man weren’t so common at the time Harakiri was made, lending
This week, Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña star as two boys in blue in End of Watch, a classic samurai film gets a reboot, and a little-known Sherlock Holmes film finally arrives on Blu-Ray.
Ready for this week’s picks? Then read on.
End of Watch
Release Date: January 22nd, 2013
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Peña, Anna Kendrick, America Ferrera, Frank Grillo, and Natalie Martinez.
Director: David Ayer
An American thriller drama film written and directed by David Ayer ( who also wrote Training Day and The Fast and the Furious
Price: DVD $26.95, Blu-ray $29.95
Studio: Tribeca Film/Cinedigm/New Video
Swords are swinging in Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai.
From prolific Japanese filmmaker Takashi Miike (he’s completed seven features in the last three years, including 2010’s 13 Assassins) comes the 2011 martial arts action-drama film Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai, a remake of Masaki Kobayashi’s 1962 classic samurai film, Harakiri.
Hara-Kiri tells the story of Hanshirô (Ebizô Ichikawa), a samurai who arrives at the doorstep of his feudal lord and requests an honorable death by ritual suicide in his courtyard. The lord threatens him with the brutal tale of Motome (Eita), a desperate young ronin (a samurai with no lord or master) who made a similar request with ulterior motives, only to meet a grisly end. Undaunted, Hanshirô begins to tell his own story…
Miike’s movie arrives following its release on video-on-demand and digital platforms in July,
“Ichimei” or “Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai” is Takashi Miike‘s 2012 remake of the extraordinary 1962 classic “Seppuku” ( or “Harakiri“ ), that one directed by Masaki Kobayashi. If you feel like this might be a little too ambitious of a project for someone like Miike, fear not. His last project was “13 Assassins” ( which was reviewed right here on Amp ), a similar type of film with parallel themes and a striking resemblance in terms of visuals.
The story goes as follows: A ronin requests an audience with the regent of a powerful samurai clan. Once he is permitted to enter the grounds, the wandering warrior makes a startling demand: he requests the use of the clan’s courtyard in order to perform hara-kiri ( suicide by disembowelment ). Now, this is where the story gets even stranger…
As the conversation continues, the regent reveals an
In both cases, even though Tarantino and his crack team definitely put their own spin on such action set pieces, the ingenuity that went into both was inspired by movies which made names for themselves in the annals of film history.
Miike is no stranger to attacking culturally-ingrained hypocrisy (for just one obvious example, see Izo
Above: The enormous Italian style B 4-foglio (55" x 78") by Alverado Ciriello.
Above: The Italian style A 4-foglio (55" x 78") , also by Ciriello.
Above: The French grande (47" x 63") signed by “Ainelare.
Though the film essentially functions as a prequel to Gosha’s Japanese television show of the same name, moviegoers won’t need any familiarity with the material to get immediately caught up in the action. Tadashi Sakai’s in-your-face cinematography often slants to a diagonal angle while closing in on the agonized faces of foes as they fight to the death. When the sword meets flesh, Gosha doesn’t spare the audience of the blood that follows.
Blu-ray Rating: 4.0/5.0
Tetsurô Tamba, a veteran actor memorably featured in Masaki Kobayashi’s classic,
By Allen Gardner
Tree Of Life (20th Century Fox) Terrence Malick’s latest effort is both the best film of 2011 and the finest work of his (arguably) mixed, but often masterly canon. A series of vignettes, mostly set in 1950s Texas, capture the memory of a man (Sean Penn) in present-day New York who looks back on his life, and his parents’ (Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain) troubled marriage, when word of his younger brother’s suicide reaches him. Almost indescribable beyond that, except to say no other film in history so perfectly evokes the magic and mystery of the human memory, which both crystalizes (and sometimes idealizes) the past. Like Stanley Kubrick’s 2001, this is a challenging, polarizing work that you must let wash over you. If you go along for the ride, you’re in for a unique, rewarding cinematic experience. Also available on Blu-ray disc.
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