Hisao Kurosawa – A Message from Akira Kurosawa: For Beautiful Movies (2000)

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A Documentary in 10 parts covering the filmmaking of Kurosawa around the theme of making the perfect movie or as he says: A Beautyful Movie.

Kurosawa on filmmaking.

Chapter 1 – The seed of a film
Chapter 2 – Screenplays
Chapter 3 – Storyboards
Chapter 4 – Filming
Chapter 5 – Lighting
Chapter 6 – Production design
Chapter 7 – Costumes
Chapter 8 – Editing
Chapter 9 – Music
Chapter 10 – Directing
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Takashi Miike – Jûsan-nin no shikaku aka 13 Assassins [International Version] (2010)

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Plot / Synopsis

Based on actual events that served as the inspiration for the 1963 film of the same name, Takashi Miike’s 13 Assassins follows a group of noble samurai as they seek to slay a tyrannical, politically connected lord before he seizes control of the entire country. Japan, 1844: as the era of the samurai winds to a close, a sadistic young lord uses his powerful political ties to commit heinous atrocities against the common people. Recognizing the dangers to both his country and its citizens should the lord manage to gain any more power, a concerned government official secretly recruits 13 of the most skilled swordsmen he can find to defeat the evil lord once and for all. But reaching their target won’t be easy, because the elusive lord is constantly flanked by legions of fearless bodyguards. Realizing that the bodyguards would decimate his modest task force in a traditional battle, the assassins’ leader (Koji Yakusho) lays an ingenious trap that will give his men the upper hand, and waits patiently for their prey to take the bait. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi Continue reading

Shuji Terayama – Tomato Kecchappu Kôtei aka Emperor Tomato Ketchup (1971)

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Synopsis
EMPEROR TOMATO KETCHUP is Terayama’s epic, sexually revolutionary and hallucinatory work from 1972 in which magical women act as the initiatory, yet protectively maternal sexual partners to children. The children, in revolt, have condemned their parents to death for depriving them of self-expression and sexual freedom; they create a society in which fairies and sex education are equally important and literally combinable. Continue reading

Shuji Terayama – Saraba Hakobune aka Farewell To The Ark (1984)

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In a tale that is visually stunning in certain segments, director Shuji Terayama (who died before this movie was released) has woven a spell of magic and social reprobation around the forbidden love of two cousins. Su-e (Mayumi Ogawa) and her cousin Sutekichi (Tsutomu Yamazaki), a descendant of one of the village clans, live together but have been forbidden by her father to have sexual contact. Like other villagers, he believes that if cousins have children together, the children will suffer serious birth defects. His remedy is to make Su-e wear a large, ugly chastity belt. Unable to take the ridicule of his fellow villagers, Sutekichi stabs the head of the clan to death and then runs away with Su-e. After some time elapses, the two make their way back to the village, but by then Sutekichi is suffering the effects of his actions…
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Akira Kurosawa – Ikiru [+Extras] (1952)

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REVIEW:Shan Jayaweera, Senses of Cinema

Along with the various uses of time and perspective in the narrative, Ikiru displays all the other hallmarks that make Kurosawa such an important and influential filmmaker. The framing, shot composition and editing techniques all beautifully work together to bring out the story the most dazzling of these being the sequence reminiscing about his son. The dissolves and the matching of shots past to present are used to such effect that the audience is left feeling his pain not of imminent death but wasted life. Special mention must also go to Takashi Shimura’s beautiful performance as Mr Watanabe. Shimura and Kurosawa worked many times together, most famously in Seven Samurai where Shimura played the head samurai. As Mr Watanabe, Shimura’s mannerisms and reactions take the audience into the inner most depths and thoughts of the character. His performance lingers through the second half even though we barely see him. Continue reading