Three Kurosawa films, a late 40’s classic and a Best Actor performance…..
Dodes’Ka-Den – 7.5/10 (An essential film from the late period of one of cinemas true masters Akira Kurosawa. His first shot in color, this film examines the struggles of people living in the slums in the outskirts of Tokyo. Each person in the film has their own dreams and ideas on how to make it through the hard times including a father and son who both have vivid images of how their house would look and a young man who imagines every day that he is driving a train. This film is very different in tone but is still strikingly Kurosawa at the heart as each characters story unravels. I wouldn’t recommend starting with this film if it is your first viewing of his work, but would recommend it to those who will take the time and read about all that happened just before, during and after the filming of this movie.)
Ran – 9.0/10 (I have had a fondness for Kurosawa’s non-samurai films lately, but this movie was a great return to his bread and butter. Ran is Kurosawa’s take on Shakespeare’s “King Lear” and his take is brilliant. To what lengths will a father go to maintain his family, keep his pride and ultimately what sacrifices will each character have to make before the last drop of blood is shed. This is Kurosawa’s last epic film and it is in brilliant surreal color and of grand scale. A must watch for cinephiles.)
No Regrets For Our Youth – 6.5/10 (Part of Criterion’s “Postwar Kurosawa” collection this film reflects a director still finding his way after the end of WW II. A very human piece, the film follows the transformation of a young woman from one side of life in a quiet conservative home to fully blossoming in her finding life for herself. The film struggles a little with pacing as there are one too many insignificant scenes that take away from the story, but the core is very solid.)
The Bicycle Thief – 6.5/10 (1948 cinema classic that depicts post WW II depression in Italy and the great lengths a man will go to get his stolen bicycle back so that he can get back to providing for his family. This film failed to make an emotional impact on me as I never felt a connection to the struggle. It seemed like a little bit of a flimsy premise to spend so much time looking for one bicycle when they all looked the same. While I understand the importance of the bicycle to his families well being, I just never felt that close relationship with his life. Chalk it up to me being crabby but this film was mild entertainment.)
My Left Foot – 8.5/10 (I am sorry Christy Brown, for taking this long to see your movie. Daniel Day Lewis gave a hell of a performance as the lead character Christy Brown who suffers from cerebral palsy and only has total control of his left foot. A young Christy is branded mentally disabled because of his condition and he struggles to prove to everyone that he is mentally able despite his appearance. His emotion is poured into his painting and as a viewer you are emotionally ravaged as you watch him stumble to find love outside of his family. The ending of this film is the only reason I have not rated it higher, it felt a little cheesy with the way it is presented, but that minor flaw can’t shadow a great film.)