Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Movie Pick of the Week

Kurosawa's The Bad Sleep Well.

Introducing a new offseason feature while we take a break from college hoops ...

I'm on a Kurosawa kick now that I no longer have homework to worry about; I'm working my way through everything of his that I can find on DVD.

"The Bad Sleeps Well" is a new Criterion release: an obscure work, and not necessarily one of his best, but I still loved it. It features many of the same great actors from the "Seven Samurai" ensemble wearing suits and ties instead of robes and monk's tonsures. Toshiro Mifune looks especially uncomfortable in business attire, but his character is supposed to look uncomfortable, so it works.

The movie was an indictment of corporate and political corruption in Japan--quite apt in the age of Abramoff. It also has interesting echoes of "Hamlet": an accusing "ghost," a wedding cake that serves the same purpose as the "Mousetrap" play, and a philosophical exploration of the idea that "conscience doth make cowards of us all."

This leads up to the mother of all anti-climaxes, which may be disappointing to some, but it makes perfect thematic sense.

As I said, it's not his best work, but if Kurosawa ever made a bad movie I have yet to see it.


  1. Well, all hail Natalie Portman, I guess!

    I have not seen The Bad Sleep Well; thanks for the recommendation.
    As far as Kurosawa films go, and I haven't seen nearly as many as DeRon, my personal favorite is probably Ikiru: a bit sappy? perhaps, but it's a beautiful film.

  2. All hail wha--?!

    This one may not be quite as good as Ikiru. It's completely different from that movie, though both are critical of postwar Japanese government and both feature Takeshi Shimura (but then, almost every Kurosawa film does).

    I also saw "Stray Dog" and "Red Beard" last week--both great in different ways. Kurosawa may be starting to edge out some others for the coveted title of DeRon's all-time favorite director.

  3. I've seen Stray Dog and Red Beard.

    Both excellent.

    I haven't seen the Bad sleep well.

    Other excellent lesser-known Kurosawa fare:

    Drunken Angel
    The Hidden Fortress (inspired Star Wars)
    High and Low

    I havent seen "to Live in Fear"
    but if there is a bad Kurosawa movie, that might be the one. It's about a businessman who moves his family because of his delusional fears about direct nuclear attack.
    I plan on seeing it soon.

  4. I think I've seen about 10 or 11 of his movies, but of the five you mentioned, Scott, I've only seen "Hidden Fortress." I loved the Princess Leia equivalent in that movie--much tougher and sexier than Carrie Fisher.