Akira Kurosawa

April 8, 2011

Akira Kurosawa

Some have called him the Japanese Spielberg. How can people be so cruel? Akira sometimes suffers a backlash because of how popular the film brat generation made him (kinda like the Chaplin backlash many years ago when folks said Keaton was better. They’re both great, so shut up). Is Kurosawa the greatest Japanese filmmaker in the history of the universe? No. You just can’t make those kind of claims. The only thing you can say is “the best,” is ice cream. And it’s Chocolate. Suck on that Daiquiri Ice!

Drunken Angel – No, it’s not a remake of The Lost Weekend

Stray Dog – Did P.T. Anderson get the idea of a cop losing his gun in Magnolia from this? I’m just askin’.

Rashomon – Often borrowed from, never bettered.

Ikuru – do a double feature with De Sica’s Umberto D.

Seven Samurai – Did he steal this idea from John Sturges or Walt Disney? Just kidding. This one earned all the hype. It’s still my favorite Kurosawa.

Throne of BloodMacbeth with samurai swords. I don’t know how he shot Birnam wood marching on the castle, but I’ll take a guess it wasn’t ILM.

The Lower Depths – Get the Criterion collection and you can compare Renoir’s version with Kurosawa’s. I think I liked Renoir’s better.

The Hidden Fortress – Lucas cribbed from this. Two bickering buddies. A princess. A hero. Sounds like Howard the Duck to me.

Yojimbo – a Spaghetti Western in Japan? Weird.

Sanjuro – Yes, Leone made his first two Clint Eastwood movies based on this and Yojimbo.

High and Low – not the Robert Downey Jr. story.

Red Beard – I have it, but haven’t watched it yet (gimme a break, there’s only so many hours in a day). This ended the Mifune/Kurosawa partnership and I put it here for that reason.

Ran – I’m gonna say this was his last hurrah. He made Kagemusha 5 years earlier and that was produced by Lucas & Coppola, but it wasn’t that great. I just wish he had patched things up with Mifune when he did this. Don’t get me wrong, Tatsuya Nakadai is good, but just like when Scorsese makes his last great picture, you kinda hope DeNiro is in it and not just Leo DiCaprio.

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