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Kakushi-toride no san-akunin (1958)
My favorite Kurosawa movie
The Hidden Fortress may well be the best Kurosawa movie around (I've just read another guy's comment that it was Mr. K's own favorite). If nothing else, it has the best character interaction I've seen, maybe in ANY movie. From the princess and Rokurota patronizing each other in a very thrilling wordplay duel, to the shifting relationship between the two lowlifes, to the princess getting to know firsthand what real life and sacrifice mean. It brought tears to my eyes (as every movie I've commented on) as often as it made me laugh. Kudos to K, as always.
Gay Purr-ee (1962)
Well I DID like it
seriously, I thought "Gay Pur-ree" is up there on par with Disney's greatest productions, even surpassing some of them. Sure it's no blockbuster, nor is it planned to be one. But it does manage a certain kind of epic magic, more akin to the impressionist style it emulates than to the "MTV video feel" behind most of today's standard animation works.
Gay Pur-ree (which aired in my country as "La Fair Mewsette", to my mind a MUCH better title) is a throwback to an age of innocence (corny as this may sound) in more than one sense; in those days, a simple, humane story was all the charm a story needed (my, that DID sound corny indeed). The movie had that special feel, in spades. And to me (a very impressionable 8-year old at the time), it was a true saga. I was taken to another world, cried for the characters, memorized their names and the song. And I dreamed of it for a month after watching it. I felt the magic. I felt as they said you should feel after watching an animated movie.
Maybe not a must see, but certainly a must remember. Watch it, and cherish the memory.
Down by Law (1986)
silly, intelligent, laughable and endearing
What I really enjoy about "Down by Law" is not the fact that it is a road movie, nor that the characters suffer a rite of passage through their imprisonment and subsequent flight, nor any of the other characteristics mentioned by other users; it is in how the film presents human life and human relationships as a series of misunderstandings, coincidences, accidents and miracles.
The three protagonists are tramps. Two of them think they are cool and smart, and yet they are so stupid and naive that at the same time they become delightful and memorable characters. Roberto lights up the screen in a Chaplin-like manner.
As a whole, the picture leaves the viewer with a feeling of intelligent delight in a completely non-hollywood-esque style --with no closed ending, a rhythm of its own, tender but never kitsch, sordid and intimate, yet inspiring and deliriously funny. "Down by Law" is the filmed proof that silly characters plus comedy (in the classic sense of the word) do not necessarily result in vulgar humor. I believe it's one of a kind.
Rumble Fish (1983)
My favorite film of all time
I realize that's not saying it's the best ever made, but it certainly marked me so much as to regard it as my all-time fave.
The movie reminisces of Elia Kazan's Dean movies, and "The Wild One" starring Marlon Brando. Just as those movies (and much better done, IMHO), Rumble Fish is about violence as a consequence of uncomprehension; loneliness; and family relations in a sordid, black and white environment. Not even this choice is random, as its B&W filming (and somewhat deficient sound quality) is yet another commentary on life as seen through the eyes of its characters - and author.
Every scene in this movie brings a realization, though some of the dialogues are indeed a bit naive when seen after its time. And here I could engage in a debate on "naiveté" vs. "savvy", and whether an innocent view of life really means less message depth (or whether a jaded outlook really guarantees understanding), but I digress. The point is, I'm a 27-year old man and I still cry every time I see this movie.
The first time I saw Rumble Fish, I thought I identified with the Motorcycle boy and his alienation from the world he was put in. After a few more times, I realized more and more that I "was" Rusty-James - That, to an extent, EVERY man is a little Rusty-James; trying to live up to a hero image, and helplessly watching as your ideal slips past your reach and lets himself be killed, without you ever understanding anything until it's too late... or is it?
Where Mel Gibson and Bruce Willis speak to the hero we WANT to be, Matt Dillon speaks to the MEN who want to be that hero, and leads the way out.
The astounding soundtrack, exquisite photography and perfect takes don't hurt any, either.
Buy it, rent it, whatever. See the goddamn movie. It is worth a try (and a much, much better score than 6.7).