19 items from 2011
Laurence Topham continues our writers' favourite film series with Kurosawa's epic about 16th-century Japanese swords-for-hire
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A group of samurai, along with a motley gang of armed villagers, await the arrival of 13 formidable bandits on horseback. With piercing rain beating down on them, Kambei, the leader of the samurai, solemnly says: "This is the final battle." With hellish cries, the mounted invaders charge through the black mud and into the village, where they are annihilated by a frenzy of makeshift spears and deadly arrows. Samurai swords cut into the horses, bodies drop into the mud – mud that lurched off the screen and into my socks.
Long before I was to experience the technical marvels of 3D, I was experiencing something much more cinematically powerful – the percussive power of Akira Kurosawa's editing. The subtitles didn't even register. »
- Laurence Topham
The thing about war movies is, like actual wars, they’re sometimes very long...
Another holiday, another marathon, this one brought to you by the pain and suffering of untold millions! In honor of Veterans / Armistice / Remembrance Day, here's twenty-four hours of war movies to “celebrate” (by which I mean “only remember it’s happening because the banks are closed.”). You could also look at this as “24 Hours of Being Bummed Out,” but there’s still a post-apocalyptic marathon on the way, so buck up, sport!
8:00 Am - Gone with the Wind - 238 min
I figure the best way to start these things is with an interminably long film everyone’s already seen; that way grogginess, stragglers’ arrivals and breakfast won’t actively interfere with the entertainment. The first time I can remember seeing Gone with the Wind was in fourth grade. Remember “movie day” when you were in school? »
This year's Los Angeles Film Critics Association (Lafca) Career Achievement Award recipient Doris Day is only the fourth woman to be so honored, following Barbara Stanwyck (1981), Myrna Loy (right, 1983), and Dede Allen (1999). [Los Angeles Film Critics Career Achievement Award Winners.] The selection of Doris Day for the 2011 Career Achievement Award is unusual for a couple of reasons. First of all, Day is a woman. Whether in Los Angeles or elsewhere, whether we're talking about film critics' groups, film academies, or film festivals, men are the ones who almost invariably have their contributions to motion pictures recognized. The issue here is not political correctness on my part; anyone who has read my posts on this website knows I despise and fear political correctness the way I despise and fear any sort of illness that corrodes the mind. It's just that I'm not going to argue with the facts. As for the other reason that makes Day's selection unusual, a »
- Andre Soares
The end of Akira Kurosawa’s career followed the trajectory of an epic, half-century-long narrative, climaxing in the late-period majesty of 1980’s Kagemusha and 1985’s Ran, and closing with a quiet denouement in minor, more intimate works like 1991’s Rhapsody In August and 1993’s Madadayo. In the time between these four films, the aging Kurosawa got some attention from Hollywood, first in a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 1989 Oscar ceremony, and later when several of his most prominent champions—Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and Martin Scorsese among them—helped get Warner Brothers to support 1990 »
Akira Kurosawa and Hollywood may find themselves working together soon for the first time since the late director's abortive involvement in the war epic Tora! Tora! Tora!, one of several traumatic episodes that led him to attempt suicide in 1972. The remake rights to the lion's share of his movies and unproduced screenplays have been granted by the Akira Kurosawa 100 Project to the Los Angeles-based company Splendent, whose chief, Sakiko Yamada, told Variety he aimed to "help contemporary film-makers introduce a new generation of moviegoers to these unforgettable stories". The Kurosawa Project said it had received "countless" requests from Us and European film-makers, "expressing intense interest in remaking Kurosawa's movies".
The prospect of Kurosawa's influence being funnelled through Hollywood again is enticing; after all, the »
- John Patterson
Akira Kurosawa's Centennial last spring is still causing ripples. Splendent Media extends the celebration in a potentially controversial way. They have the rights to an enormous part of the Kurosawa catalogue should anyone want to purchase them for a remake. Kneejerk reaction is NOOOOooooooooo. But then you realize that Rashomon, The Hidden Fortress, and The Seven Samurai (and to a lesser extent many of his other films) have already been ripped off hundreds of times for movies and television. Hell, I've even seen an Off Broadway musical based on Rashomon!
So why would a straight up remake be any different?
Here are the 26 Kurosawa directed pics (of the 32 he made) that they're offering rights to:
Sanshiro Sugata (1943)
The Most Beautiful (1944)
Sanshiro Sugata Part2 (1945)
The Men who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail (1945)
No Regrets For Our Youth (1946)
One Wonderful Sunday (1947)
The Quiet Duel (1949)
Stray Dog (1949)
Rashomon (1950) -- Honorary »
- NATHANIEL R
This is a story I'd just like to ignore, in the hopes that pretending it isn't happening will decrease the chances of any sale actually going down. But it is already all over the place, so might as well stare it right in the face. A new-ish company called Splendent Media is now repping the remake rights for dozens of Akira Kurosawa films. The company holds sixty-nine titles all told: 26 are films Kurosawa directed; 24 are films he wrote; and 19 are scripts he penned that were never produced. That last point is somewhat tantalizing in the same way that unproduced Stanley Kubrick screenplays represent a vague sense of possibility. But who am I kidding? If we get... let's be generous and say two films out of this that don't suck, I think we'll be beating the odds. Details below. Variety  says that most of the major films Kurosawa directed are included in this deal. »
- Russ Fischer
It seems to be the nature of the Hollywood beast: classic films will eventually get remade, under the guise of 'introducing them to a new audience'. Not only the fun, cheesy remakes like Fright Night, or Conan the Barbarian: the rights to several classic Akira Kurosawa films are now on the market.
According to Variety, Splendent Media will represent worldwide rights (outside of Japan) for 69 Kurosawa titles, including films directed by Kurosawa (26 titles), films written by Kurosawa (24 titles) and unproduced screenplays (19 titles). For a full list you can check out Splendent's website: suffice it to say that the list includes Yojimbo, Rashomon, Idiot, and my personal favorite Ran, Kurosawa's 1985 adaptation of King Lear.
For some fans, this news is disheartening. Why not just let a classic film stand, as-is? There are plenty of ways of introducing a classic film to a new audience without remaking it entirely. Theaters have special showings of classic films, »
Because of the way modern Hollywood works eventually all of the great directors will have their best films remade, and in recent years Akira Kurosawa has been no exception. Though none of them have been reached the production stage yet, studios are developing remakes of Seven Samurai, High and Low, Drunken Angel and Ikiru as you read this. But if you thought that was going to be the end of it, I have some bad news. Variety reports that a company called Splendent Media has made a deal to "represent worldwide rights" for 26 of Kurosawa's directed films, 24 he wrote but didn't direct and 19 of his unproduced screenplays. While this obviously doesn't include the titles mentioned above, which are all set up at other studios, movies like Ran, Rashomon, Yojimbo, and Dreams are all included in the deal. The company will largely be serving as a sales agent for the titles, »
How does one respect a man considered one of the greatest filmmakers to have ever lived? You exploit him of course.
Variety reports that L.A.-based Splendent Media have signed a deal to represent worldwide rights to 69 projects from the late legendary Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa.
The company's top brass Sakiko Yamada says "We are thrilled and deeply honored to have been entrusted to represent this spectacular treasure trove of films and screenplays, and to help contemporary filmmakers introduce a new generation of moviegoers to these unforgettable stories".
The notable upside of the deal is that we could see film adaptations of up to nineteen screenplays penned by Kurosawa that were never produced. The concern however is the production of questionable remakes of the other fifty properties including twenty-six directed by the man himself.
The list includes some films considered amongst the greatest of all time including the likes of "Rashomon, »
- Garth Franklin
Few foreign directors have had as big of an influence on American cinema as Akira Kurosawa. Some people — hopefully not those reading this article — won’t recognize the name, but his works helped create The Man with No Name, for one thing, and Seven Samurai alone could be argued as one of the five most important movies in film history. There’s been a few remakes here and there; if you don’t count A Fistful of Dollars, then The Magnificent Seven probably takes the crown as the most popular.
Variety (via ThePlaylist) reports that Splendent Media has acquired the rights to 69 of his works, which includes 19 unproduced screenplays credited to his name, in addition to 24 scripts that he worked on but did not direct. Some films are out of their hands — remakes rights for Seven Samurai, High and Low, Ikiru, and Drunken Angel belong to other companies. That much being said, »
- email@example.com (thefilmstage.com)
Akira Kurosawa is one of the greatest directors of all-time. It's indisputable so don't even try. However, his work is not immune from the clutches of remakes and his classics Seven Samurai, High and Low, Ikiru, and Drunken Angel have all been in development at one point or another. However, most of his work has remained out of the hands of a single company until now. Variety reports that new production company Splendent Media (the folks behind Al Pacino's upcoming film Wild Salome) has picked up the remake rights to 26 of Kurosawa's films including Yojimbo, Ran, Kagemusha, Dreams, and Rashomon. In addition, Splendent also now owns 24 films Kurosawa wrote but didn't direct and 19 unproduced screenplays. Hit the jump for why you shouldn't be dismayed. While it's tough to argue that no one will be able to tell these stories as well as Kurosawa, we should all remember that Kurosawa also adapted stories. »
- Matt Goldberg
When most people think of films by Akira Kurosawa, their minds jump to Rashomon, Yojimbo, Ran, Sanjuro and others which take place in the golden age of the Samurai. It’s not an unjustified generalization, as he did make quite a few and they’re often held up as the iconic films of his career. But the argument could be made that the films where he strayed outside of feudal Japan into the modern era of business, crime, and bureaucracy are just as deserving of the accolades. A perfect example is High and Low, the tale of a kidnapper’s ransom against a wealthy man’s morals where ethical quandaries fly left and right as a criminal investigation ensues. Criterion Collection’s Blu-ray release of Kurosawa’s crime masterpiece gives the film a nice polish and enough supplementary material with its lead, Toshiro Mifune, and Kurosawa himself to make it »
- Lex Walker
Chicago – I’ve been lucky enough to cover a number of fantastic Criterion Collection releases for films that I already counted among my favorites including Roman Polanski’s “Repulsion,” Stanley Kubrick’s “Paths of Glory,” Wim Wenders’ “Wings of Desire,” and David Cronenberg’s “Videodrome.” While that’s an undeniable joy, it’s almost more fun when a Criterion title arrives for a film that I’ve never seen — a lost classic. Such was the case with this month’s “Pale Flower,” a somber gem about sad people in a changing world.
Blu-Ray Rating: 4.0/5.0
Masahiro Shinoda’s “Pale Flower” opens with an interesting narration from lead Muraki (Ryo Ikebe), a hardcore Yakuza who has just been released from prison for murder. He misanthrophically comments on the “beasts” around him and the changing world he sees. Why should anyone be put in jail for putting just a pathetic creature out of »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Adam Fendelman)
Tatsuya Nakadai, Daisuke Ryu in Akira Kurosawa's Ran Ran Review: Part II In Ran, Asakazu Nakai, Takao Saito, and Masaharu Ueda's cinematography shows that there's much more to great cinematography than just good scenery. One needs only look at films like Sean Penn’s Into the Wild or Walter Salles’ The Motorcycle Diaries to see that beautiful mountainscapes do not equal great art. Ran's cinematographers, by contrast, show how framing and flattening out imagery with telephoto lenses can render reality into a sort of Japanese flat art depiction of the world. That also illustrates the superfluity and flat out wrongheadedness of most critical writing on the use of certain types of lenses to get certain effects, whether in Ran or in general. Why? Because the flattening of images (such as in the openings ceremonial scenes in the mountains, especially when the frame is crowded) is not important for how it is achieved, »
- Dan Schneider
Mieko Harada in Akira Kurosawa's Ran Ran Review: Part I Also, like Lear, all in the clan end up dead. But there are some major differences, aside from the depth and realism found in Kurosawa’s film. Lear’s past is an unknown. When we observe his suffering, we are apt to feel pity for him as a character — even in poorly wrought scenes. Hidetora, on the other hand, is (or was) a monster whose life entailed almost daily murder for fifty-plus years. Thus, Ran is an example of karma, not life’s randomness and folly. This also vitiates another of the most cribbed points of criticism about the film (one repeated in Stephen Prince’s audio commentary) — that it is somehow a meditation on war and violence, asking why it exists. There simply is no evidence of this. It's true that Hidetora asks these queries, but he is not the film. »
- Dan Schneider
Ran (1985) Direction: Akira Kurosawa Cast: Tatsuya Nakadai, Akira Terao, Jinpachi Nezu, Daisuke Ryu, Mieko Harada, Yoshiko Miyazaki, Hisashi Igawa Screenplay: Akira Kurosawa, Masato Ide, and Hideo Oguni Oscar Movies Akira Kurosawa's Ran By Dan Schneider of Cosmoetica: "Critical cribbing" is a term I coined in regard to the tendency of critics, in all fields, to not engage a work of art directly, but rather to fall back on lazily repeating claims that have been made by others about the work they are reviewing. Sometimes, these are positive blurbs; other times, they are bits of misinformation repeated endlessly — e.g., the (nameless) characters' names in films such as Alain Resnais' Last Year in Marienbad and Michelangelo Antonioni's Blowup. Typical examples of critical cribbing can be found in reviews of Akira Kurosawa’s 27th (of 30) films, Ran (1985), a very good effort despite problems with character development and some mediocre acting. »
- Dan Schneider
With the Ncaa Tournament going on right now it' a bit harder to find the time to watch movies outside of my normal schedule at the moment. However, I did see one film I loved and hope Criterion will re-release it on Blu-ray and perhaps add some special features, though I am currently tempted to buy the DVD as is.
The Sword of Doom (1966) Quick Thoughts: I really, really liked this movie. Tatsuya Nakadai, whom I most associate with his role as the gunfighter in Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo among several other Kurosawa features including Seven Samurai, Ran, High and Low, Sanjuro and Kagemusha, but of those his Yojimbo role is damn near iconic. The Sword of Doom, though, is the first non-Kurosawa film he's been in that I've seen and now all I want to do is see more.
Nakadai stars as Ryunosuke, a merciless samurai whose life consists »
- Brad Brevet
Whoopi Goldberg, The Color Purple Bill Condon's Dreamgirls: Biggest Oscar Snubs #3c Steven Spielberg's Best Direction Oscar nomination for his 1985 film version of Alice Walker's The Color Purple was a given. In fact, some felt the director of the blockbusters Jaws, Close Encounters of Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T., and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom would have a good shot at actually taking home the statuette. After all, Spielberg's first (very) serious, socially conscious drama — based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, no less — was doing remarkably well at the box office. When the Oscar nominations were announced in early 1986, The Color Purple tied with Sydney Pollack's Out of Africa with 11 mentions each, including Best Picture. Pollack was shortlisted as Best Director, but Spielberg — despite a Directors Guild nod — was bypassed in favor of Akira Kurosawa, whose period epic Ran earned »
- Andre Soares
19 items from 2011
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