I am giving myself one year to watch all thirty of Akira Kurosawa’s films. As I watch them, I will provide an obnoxious description of the story, as well as a few more stumbling sentences where I vaguely outline my mostly uneducated feelings about the film as a whole.
Many of Kurosawa’s films I had seen before, but that doesn’t count! I am starting over. I must watch them all before 11:59 p.m. on December 31st, 2016. Everything crossed out below is what I have watched since 12:00 a.m. on January 1st, 2016. Yahhhoooo:
Sanshiro Sugata (1943) The Most Beautiful (1944)
Sanshiro Sugata Part II (1945)
The Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail (1945)
Six samurai disguised as monks and their buddy Yoshitsune are traveling through enemy territory, trying to get to the other side of the thing. They also have this cute little porter with them, and he says a bunch of dumb stuff. I love that guy. That this movie can Get The Point Across in an hour is incredible. I don’t know why, but I think I’ve seen this one the most. I also think this is the first Kurosawa film I ever saw. Well hey, it’s good! I like it a whole lot.
No Regrets for Our Youth (1946) One Wonderful Sunday (1946) Drunken Angel (1948)
The Quiet Duel (1949)
Stray Dog (1949)
Along with ‘Seven Samurai’ and ‘Yojimbo,’ this is often cited as one of the most important movies Kurosawa made. I can see that! There has been a murder, and everyone involved is trying to get out of it by giving a different testimony . . . so the story is told four different times by four different people. It’s a pretty neat quote unquote narrative device! Also, I just want to go on record and say that my favorite parts involve the bookended scenes where the woodcutter and the priest talk about the story, and their feelings on, uh, life, and so on. The first time I saw it, I remember saying (aloud) to myself: “Whoa. Yeah.” Also let me say here that Toshiro Mifune looks real hot with his shirt off.
The Idiot (1951)
Ikiru (1952) Seven Samurai (1954)
I Live In Fear (1955)
Throne of Blood (1957)
Man, ‘Throne of Blood’ rules. It’s Japanese ‘Macbeth.’ It’s so dark and weird and tense . . . just like ‘Macbeth’! Mifune plays a samurai who meets a spirit in the middle of a gloomy forest, who tells him that he will soon become lord of the castle he serves. After seeing the events the spirit foretold come to pass, he becomes drunk with power, and increasingly paranoid that he’ll lose it. His creepy wife convinces him to pave his rise to the top in blood. If that doesn’t tickle the spooky part of your brain, then I don’t know what will. By the way: the Japanese title is ‘Spider Web Castle.’ Whoa! Maybe that’s a cooler title than ‘Throne of Blood.’ Maybe not!
The Lower Depths (1957)
The Hidden Fortress (1958) The Bad Sleep Well (1960) Yojimbo (1961)
A wandering, masterless samurai in a tattered black kimono ends up in some bumfuck town where a bunch of suspicious bullshit is going down. And because he is amused by the townspeople, and has nothing better to do, he hangs out and milks them all hard. I’m sorry, everyone, but I really dig movies where the protagonist is smarter than everyone else and, even better than that, doesn’t give an s-h-i-tut about the outcome. Maybe this is the movie that created that sort of character. I mean, we know ‘Yojimbo’ is responsible for creating the the lone-wolf-shows-up-in-town-and-fixes-some-problems trope that a bunch of Westerns have since used a whole bunch. Anyway, Lord have mercy, sink your chompers into this delicious beast of a movie, cuz I’ll be god darned if it ain’t one of the best I ever seen. I don’t want to spoil anything, but there is a part where our hero Sanjuro hides inside a coffin, so you know it’s gotta be good.
Sanjuro (1962) High and Low (1963)
Red Beard (1965)
Dersu Uzala (1975)
Kagemusha (1980) Ran (1985)
Rhapsody in August (1991)