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Ron Reed

Ikiru

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What a beautiful, moving, funny, inspiring film! Any fans here?

Some random thoughts;

1)

Deeply Christian (I'm qualmy about applying that adjective, but take it as shorthand, okay?). Not only is there the Jesus talk at one or two points (in a Japanese movie?), and the repeated use of words like "reborn" and "resurrection," but also the theme of finding meaning in life by putting others first - initially his delight in making his companions happy, but ultimately in... Well, you know. And even more affectingly, the way in which he went about his final actions - every bit the suffering servant rather than the triumphant world-dominator. No eloquence, no power, just the intention to do what he felt he needed to do, at whatever cost. The wonderful confrontation with the restaurant owners, outside (was it?) the Deputy Mayor's door: O death, where is thy victory? Sweet.

2)

I see talk about a Tom Hanks remake. Real mixed feelings about that. I like Tom a lot: I don't think I've liked a singe American remake of a non-American film. Can sure see where it could have a commercial appeal, tarted up a bit. Please, God, don't let them turn the final act into a triumphant heroic battle - "You CAN fight city hall!"

3)

It occurs to me there are interesting points of comparison to another of my beloved movies, YI-YI. Disenchanted older businessman has occasion to re-examine his life - though YI-YI is more a multi-plot story. But in that, even, a kind of echo of IKIRU's emphasis on the community surrounding the central character.

4)

MILD SPOILERS

Some of the maturity and artistry of the film is evident in the way events and characters don't stop progressing. Consider the story-line about the woman co-worker: She's not just a plot device for his story, an injection of youthful vitality when he needs it, but instead our perception of her continues to deepen and develop, as we see her immaturities as well as her strengths, as we follow the relationship through some difficult patches as well as the revitalizing times. She's not just one thing. Kinda like life.

5)

SPOILERS

Strange "third act," where we view his efforts to make a difference entirely from the perspective of the family, friends and (mostly) co-workers gathered at his wake. Felt like things were coming to a close, then we get a this whole extended section about the efforts to get an okay for the playground. What I found odd was the POV - the need to see the event filtered through the community, to watch them struggle to come to terms with it. Wonder if that's a distinctly Asian attribute of the film: it's not enough to see "the little guy" have a personal awakening and then set out to make a difference in the world, we also need to see the effect on his associates. A less individualistic way of seeing the world, perhaps?


I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

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SPOILERS

Ron wrote:

: What a beautiful, moving, funny, inspiring film! Any fans here?

Yes, I've only seen it twice (both times at the 'theque), but I think it could become one of my all-time favorites. To quote what I posted elsewhere the last time I saw it:

I caught Akira Kurosawa's 1952 film
Ikiru
again last night -- I had seen it once before, several years ago -- and for some reason it kept reminding me of
About Schmidt
and
Jesus of Montreal
. Kurosawa's film has a lot of that bleak end-of-an-underappreciated-office-drone's-life stuff that
About Schmidt
has, and it too is very cynical about whether or not people can change their ways, but there is a still, small sense of hope in Kurosawa's film that ultimately lifts it out of its bleakness.

What I especially like about
Ikiru
is the way the main character, whose name I forget now, is frequently talked ABOUT, rather than depicted directly. There is, of course, the film's third act, in which the character is dead and we learn what he did with his last five months from the memories shared by his co-workers; but also, at the beginning, the doctors and nurses talk about him after he visits them and learns he has stomach cancer, his co-workers make jokes about him even in his presence, his son and daughter-in-law plan how to spend his money, and even the film's narrator makes derogatory comments about him, safe in the knowledge that the character cannot hear him. We consistently see the character from the points of view of others, partly because the character has been working on autopilot for so long that it's difficult to say whether he even has a point of view of his own; it is the discovery that he has cancer which wakes him up, and it's kinda thrilling, actually, to see him become gradually more assertive, until he finally screws up the courage to TELL someone that he's dying and to ASK how he should live his life. The film's middle section is told more and more from this character's perspective, until he has that moment of insight -- and then we jump ahead to after his death, and he is once again someone that people talk about, only now, ironically, even though he is dead, he is not so powerless.

Getting back to that third act, in which the main character's boss, family and co-workers talk about him at his wake: that whole sequence reminds me of Kurosawa's earlier film
Rashomon
, the way a group of people share their memories and then one character steps in from out of the blue to say what HE saw -- but instead of confusing us with their contradictions, these testimonies become pieces in a bigger puzzle that holds together and makes sense. And yet we also find OURSELVES wondering what to make of the example that this character's life has given us -- how are WE going to live? Are we going to flatter ourselves or excuse ourselves, the way these characters do? Are we going to make meaningful changes in our lives, the way the main character did? And then, what would a meaningful change BE? I think it's very interesting that the main character's inspiration is a girl who, when asked what she does with her life, says she works and eats, nothing more; the one thing that stands out about her is that she quit her job in the office so that she could work in a toy factory -- to some people, it might look like she has exchanged one crap job for another, but SHE says she likes her new job because making those funny little wind-up rabbits is like playing with every baby in Japan.

As for the
Jesus of Montreal
connection, the third act, in which people argue over the meaning of the main character's life, obviously brings to mind how the meaning of Jesus' life is something that Christians and others have fought over ever since he left this planet ... and lest anyone think I am imposing something on this film that Kurosawa himself did not intend, note how, at one point fairly early in the film, a man gestures towards the main character and declares, "Ecce Homo. Behold the man!"

Great film. Definitely worth seeing, if any of you haven't yet.

: Deeply Christian . . . And even more affectingly, the way in which he

: went about his final actions - every bit the suffering servant rather than

: the triumphant world-dominator. No eloquence, no power, just the

: intention to do what he felt he needed to do, at whatever cost. The

: wonderful confrontation with the restaurant owners, outside (was it?) the

: Deputy Mayor's door: O death, where is thy victory? Sweet.

Very. By embracing his shameful status as he does -- by embracing it with PURPOSE rather than just because that's his lot in life -- he actually makes the more honourable people ashamed.

: I see talk about a Tom Hanks remake.

Say WHAT!?

: MILD SPOILERS

: Some of the maturity and artistry of the film is evident in the way events

: and characters don't stop progressing. Consider the story-line about the

: woman co-worker: She's not just a plot device for his story, an injection

: of youthful vitality when he needs it, but instead our perception of her

: continues to deepen and develop, as we see her immaturities as well as

: her strengths, as we follow the relationship through some difficult patches

: as well as the revitalizing times. She's not just one thing. Kinda like life.

Very good points.

: SPOILERS

: Strange "third act," where we view his efforts to make a difference

: entirely from the perspective of the family, friends and (mostly)

: co-workers gathered at his wake.

What do you make of my take on this aspect of the film? I think it fits your interpretation of the film as "deeply Christian" very well -- there is a definite "gospel" of some sort here, no?


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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SPOILERS

I think it could become one of my all-time favorites.

Yes, I can see that. I'm thinking of your affection for NOT OF THIS WORLD, which I only managed to see half of before returning it to the video shop (no disinterest on my part, not at all: I was loving it, and am eager to get hold of it again) - there's a humanity the two films have in common.

...it kept reminding me of About Schmidt.... Kurosawa's film has a lot of that bleak end-of-an-underappreciated-office-drone's-life stuff that About Schmidt has, and it too is very cynical about whether or not people can change their ways, but there is a still, small sense of hope in Kurosawa's film that ultimately lifts it out of its bleakness.

Nice comparison - though I didn't find IKIRU at all cynical, or the sense of hope small. Balanced, though, not sentimental or unrealistic: as much as Watanabe is able to find a new life, as much as he is able to effect change, it is clear that most people around him are unable to follow him there. Perhaps it takes a confrontation with death to wake people up, to make them really choose to live (I'm flashing back to PHONE BOOTH here, as well: while others were sceptical about the authenticity and lastingness of Stu's change, I was not - that kind of traumatic event, and the level of honesty he came to in his ultimate confession, seem to me the kind of thing that really can precipitate long-term change) - but the film clearly holds out the example of one man who was able to make that choice, and stick with it.

There is, of course, the film's third act, in which the character is dead and we learn what he did with his last five months from the memories shared by his co-workers...  that whole sequence reminds me of Kurosawa's earlier film Rashomon...

Nice connection! I've not seen that one yet (it's on my Kurosawa Gotta-See list, along with RAN), but of course one can't avoid knowing its central principle.

...we also find OURSELVES wondering what to make of the example that this character's life has given us -- how are WE going to live? Are we going to flatter ourselves or excuse ourselves, the way these characters do? Are we going to make meaningful changes in our lives, the way the main character did? And then, what would a meaningful change BE?  

I think you've hit it right on the head. If we just saw Watanabe's awakening (as would be the case in most films), we would be more inclined to simply observe it, feel what we feel, and then walk away. But seeing others fail to "get it" in their various ways and for their various reasons, we are inclined to do our own processing, seeing our own rationalizations and avoidances embodied on the screen. Very potent stuff. (And it does help avoid the possibility that the film could be dismissed as sentimental or naive, "nothing but a feel good flick" - one man is changed, true enough, but many are not. Masterful.)

And as you suggest, this really does tie in with the idea of this as a "gospel" film: as much as it's about one man finding new life, it isn't content for us to walk away without being challenged to assess our own. Kurosawa's playing for keeps.

I think it's very interesting that the main character's inspiration is a girl who, when asked what she does with her life, says she works and eats, nothing more; the one thing that stands out about her is that she quit her job in the office so that she could work in a toy factory -- to some people, it might look like she has exchanged one crap job for another, but SHE says she likes her new job because making those funny little wind-up rabbits is like playing with every baby in Japan.

Yes, she's a marvelously nuanced creation - I kept flipping back and forth in how I felt about her, how I perceived her. But in every instance she continued to serve as a wonderful challenge/stimulus to Watanabe - even in a factory job, she found more value (oriented toward the pleasure of others, interestingly enough) than he had in a much more important position.

As for the Jesus of Montreal connection...  lest anyone think I am imposing something on this film that Kurosawa himself did not intend, note how, at one point fairly early in the film, a man gestures towards the main character and declares, \"Ecce Homo. Behold the man!\"

I can't wait to see this one again, catch some of the specifics, such as the Jesus references such as the one you cite. I don't specifically see the JESUS OF MONTREAL tie-in that you do, but admittedly that film's not vivid in my mind: it made surprisingly little impact on me. I do expect to re-view it, though, and when I do I'll watch for the IKIRU connection you point out.

By embracing his shameful status as he does -- by embracing it with PURPOSE rather than just because that's his lot in life -- he actually makes the more honourable people ashamed.

Robert Jewett!

: I see talk about a Tom Hanks remake.

Say WHAT!?

Tom Hanks To Star In 1952 'Ikiru' Remake

[Tue March 25, 2003 10:09PM]

Tom Hanks could be starring in a remake of the 1952 Akira Kurosawa film Ikiru. According to Variety, DreamWorks is in negotiations with Richard Price to write the script.

'Ikiru' is the story of a low-level bureaucrat who learns that he has terminal stomach cancer and tries to have some impact on the world. In Kurosawa's version, the man decides to use his skills to build a park.

Price wrote 'Ransom', 'Sea of Love' and 'The Color of Money', and has authored novels including 'Clockers', 'Freedomland' and 'The Wanderers'. Knopf just published his latest novel, 'Samaritan', which was set up at Paramount with producer Scott Rudin for $2 million last year.

'Ikiru' is expected to be made next year.

Samaritan? That sounds promising - at least moreso than SEA OF LOVE...

Ron


I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

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Great analysis, Ron and Peter! I especially liked Ron's comparison to Yi Yi (one of my all-time faves) and Peter's use of Rashomon. Those are both really helpful comparisons.

I saw Ikiru a couple years ago and unfortunately don't remember enough details to add much. There was a big Kurosawa series, and most of what I recall are the big moments in Yojimbo, Throne of Blood, and especially Ran. But Ikiru has a wonderful quietness about it. And I agree, Ron, that it feels distinctly Christian. I remember thinking the same when I saw it. I shudder to think what Hollywood would do in a remake. Tom Hanks would need to be twenty years older, at least. Now if they got Robert Duvall...

Not much to add, but I just wanted to say thanks for some genuinely good criticism. When the board is desperately trying to find deep meaning in Hollywood pabulum, it's nice to focus on a film worthy of all the discussion.

J Robert

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...Tom Hanks would need to be twenty years older, at least. Now if they got Robert Duvall...

Interestingly, Shimura was 47 when he played the role of Watanabe. Tom Hanks turned 47 one month ago today. Still, he has that boyishness about him: I'd agree, go with Bobby D.

Ron

Edited by Ron

I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

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jrobert wrote:

: And I agree, Ron, that it feels distinctly Christian.

FWIW, I was talking about this film with a friend of mine after church today, and he, being a big Russophile, claimed that Kurosawa had said his favorite novelist was Dostoevsky. Perhaps there's an influence of sorts there.


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Kurosawa had said his favorite novelist was Dostoevsky

FWIW, Kurosawa did an adaptation of Dostoevsky's The Idiot just before he filmed Ikiru. I have not seen this film, although I have read the book. I'm not sure of specific similarties between the central character of Ikiru and Prince Myshkin, but it might be interesting to search out any thematic similarities between Kurosawa's adaptation and Ikiru.


All great art is pared down to the essential.
--Henri Langlois

 

Movies are not barium enemas, you're not supposed to get them over with as quickly as possible.

--James Gray

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John Adair wrote:

: FWIW, Kurosawa did an adaptation of Dostoevsky's The Idiot just before

: he filmed Ikiru. I have not seen this film, although I have read the book.

Interesting. FWIW, tonight I saw Dersu Uzula (1975), which is set in Tsarist Russia and was apparently the only film Kurosawa ever made outside of Japan -- yet another example of his affinity for things Russian, I guess, eh? It's a very good film, too, I thought -- the sequence in the Siberian blizzard is fantastic, pure cinema, a masterful blend of music and imagery, of setting and sound effects, and one of those man-vs.-nature conflicts that reminded me of some of the scenes in the first half of Lawrence of Arabia.

My one criticism of the film, if you can call it that, is that the title character seems a little too isolated -- now that I think about it, I can remember that he tells a story about what happened to his family, but I was still curious to know how he had learned all the things he knew about living in the forest, and who he had learned it from, and whether there were any other people in his life besides the Russian soldiers with whom he gets along so well. He's almost a Tonto sort of figure, or a Chewbacca sort of figure -- a resourceful native who exists primarily in terms of how he helps his white friends.

It was also interesting to see how I, a city boy, responded to this film's depiction of city vs. country life. There's an amusing scene where Dersu is stranded in the middle of a river, clinging to a log lest he be swept away into the rapids, and even in his precarious position, he STILL knows more about the forest than anyone else, and he begins barking orders to the Russians to chop down a specific tree and help him out of there. As the Russians began hacking at the tree, I found myself thinking what a beautiful thing that tree was and how it had taken many years to grow, to become the thing of beauty that it was, and now these people were just going to come along and chop it down without a moment's pause. (So help me, seeing an actual tree get chopped down in a film actually got me thinking of the animal deaths I have witnessed in various films.) Ah well, I thought, this country guy no doubt has so much respect for ALL these trees that he doesn't mind doing away with just one, just as, being a hunter, he scorns the wanton killing of animal life but doesn't mind killing the occasional creature whenever he needs to eat. But then, near the end, as he gets older and realizes he can't survive in the forest on his own any more, Dersu tries to live in the city ... and he gets in trouble for chopping down a tree in a park! Ironically, the city people hold that one tree in higher value than he does -- yet it's clear from the creaking stairs and floors that a lot of trees have been felled to build these houses.

Okay, I obsess over weird details sometimes. It's definitely a good film, though, and worth checking out. Not my favorite Kurosawa ever (that would be Ikiru, I think), but certainly worthy of the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar that it won way back when. (FWIW, this film was Russia's to nominate, not Japan's, which means that the powers that be chose this film over Tarkovsky's The Mirror; not sure what other Oscar-worthy Russian films there might have been that year.)


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Does anyone know about the quality of the IKIRU DVD (I believe it's Chinese in origin) that shows up on eBay and such places? For example...

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewI...23&category=617


I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

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The DVD is put out by Mei Ah, a Hong Kong distributor. The quality of Mei Ah discs aren't terrible, but they aren't great either. If you're looking for Criterion Collection standards (video restoration, extensive extras, etc.), you'll probably be disappointed.

Strangely enough, HKFlix has discounted all of their Mei Ah discs and are selling Ikiru for $5.95.

http://www.hkflix.com/coupons/hkflix_03-09-24/

Just scroll down the page to "Ikiru" and click on the "Buy" button. With shipping, it comes to just under $11.


"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
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Strangely enough, HKFlix has discounted all of their Mei Ah discs and are selling Ikiru for $5.95.

Wow! Thanks so much. I just bought myself a copy of IKIRU, a second one for a friend, a copy of ATTACK THE GAS STATION for me to watch and then give to him, and a copy of 7 SAMURAI for me - all for under thirty bucks, including shipping!

Sweet. Thanks, Opus!


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Yeah, HKFlix is a pretty solid place for getting Asian stuff. They have almost everything. Another good place is AznFilms.Com, though they don't have as many older titles.

Let me know what you think of "Attack The Gas Station". I though it was decent - some of the dark humor is hilarious - but I think I'd appreciate it even more if I was a Korean teenager.


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Guest Russell Lucas

A Criterion Ikiru is coming. I'll have to look for the announcement, but I believe I heard six months or so ago that it was coming in a year.

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I have heard similar rumblings, but have been unable to find anything on the criterion web site. I have heard that Criterion is pretty quiet about what movies they are pursuing to re-release lest someone beats them to the punch. But since they released Ikiru on Laser Disc one would think it would be easier to get it done on DVD.

In the meantime, I ordered that DVD from HKflix as well. I figured 10 bucks (including shipping) isn't too bad.

BTW - Ikiru is one of my favorite films.

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...In the meantime, I ordered that DVD from HKflix as well. I figured 10 bucks (including shipping) isn't too bad.

BTW - Ikiru is one of my favorite films.

It's a beauty, isn't it? Saw it this summer at our local art house, and it really is the film that's made the most impact on me in the last several months - maybe this year, though I'd have to look over my list to be sure. (I've come to think of it as a nice match-up to ABOUT SCHMIDT.)

It would be wonderful to have it on Criterion, but then, it would be wonderful to be able to afford Criterion! For me, they're likely only ever to be highly treasured rentals.

There was a brief thread about IKURU, back a while - did you see it?

http://promontoryarts.com/viewtopic.php?t=...highlight=ikiru


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Just watched this for the first time. Overwhelming. The framing of the shots... breathtaking.

Has there ever been a better use of "Happy Birthday" in a film?

The film seems unique among Kurosawa films (at least, those I've seen) in its clever use of reflections. In some shots, a great deal of the action takes place in reflections off of windows or mirrors, as if he's reminding us that he's showing us ourselves. One particular long shot shows us a piano player playing a song, and we can watch him play in a reflection above his head while focusing on the action going on all around him as well. Brilliant. It reminded me of Edward Yang's commentary on the Yi-Yi DVD, where he talks about his realization that he could use a window to double the size of his set... giving the audience a much broader range of vision. (And I've never seen anybody use reflections as masterfully as Yang.)

Ikiru's simple uplifting tale has a strong Capra quality. Amazing, the range that Kurosawa demonstrated over the course of his career.

I can't help but wonder if this film didn't inspire "About Schmidt." I came to this thread ready to propose that idea, and I see that I'm too late, Peter beat me to it. But yeah, I thought about that film all the way through, and how its shortfailings are further highlighted by the successes of this film. "About Schmidt" cared only about its central character and made almost all of the others unpleasant and unsympathetic. This film treats all of its supporting characters more seriously and more maturely. And Mr. Watanabe's transformation and subsequent gesture of servitude seem much more inspiring, rich, and compelling than Schmidt's donation to a charity.

A remake would be a difficult, and perhaps completely unwise, endeavor. I'd be surprised to see an American director willing to let his main character die in the middle of the film, and have other characters go on talking about him for the rest of the movie. We want action, we don't want people sitting around reminiscing.


P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

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Just watched this for the first time. Overwhelming. The framing of the shots... breathtaking.

I picked up a copy a few weeks ago, and it's just been staring at me from it's location on my shelf. I really ought to watch it sometime soon...


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Just watched this for the first time. Overwhelming. The framing of the shots... breathtaking.

Yahoo! Another one joins the fold. Welcome, brother...

Ikiru's simple uplifting tale has a strong Capra quality.

It does. But I think it's important that the central character "wins the day" in a distinctly non-American-razzle-dazzle way: there's a real Suffering Servant quality to the way in which he accomplishes what he does. His end is achieved entirely through weakness, even pain. (Not to misrepresent Capra, of course - he wasn't all corn. For example, IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE as a darker vein to it than we often remember, when George reaches the point of despair about his life.)

"About Schmidt" cared only about its central character and made almost all of the others unpleasant and unsympathetic. This film treats all of its supporting characters more seriously and more maturely. And Mr. Watanabe's transformation and subsequent gesture of servitude seem much more inspiring, rich, and compelling than Schmidt's donation to a charity.

Well, I'm much more a SCHMIDT fan than you are, but when you make the direct comparison, I can't disagree. IKIRU has immense depth and maturity: no important character is just one thing, and the whole story gains so much more power when we are priveleged to see the outworking of his transformation, and to contemplate the consequences of his actions in the lives of people around him.

A remake would be a difficult, and perhaps completely unwise, endeavor.

A comment that would be as true in general as it is in this specific instance. cf the "Are films ever worth remaking?" thread.

I'd be surprised to see an American director willing to let his main character die in the middle of the film....

I've got a hunch that's something they'll change. I bet the whole narrative becomes much more linear, and we spend a fair amount of time watching Mr Watanabe overcome all obstacles to win the day in the end.

Sigh.

Edited by Ron

I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

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Coming this January...

221_box_100x140.jpg

"Considered by some to be Akira Kurosawa

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Coming this January...

user posted image

Oooh, sweet! My five dollar Mei Ah version just arrived from HKFLIX, and I'm dying to watch it, but it certainly won't have the quality of the Criterion. (Which I won't be able to afford, but can certainly rent to enjoy all the fab features.)

I also notice that The Apu Trilogy has just been released on DVD this week. Fab. These are exciting times to be a film buff!

(Nice to see you round these parts, Mr C...)

Edited by Ron

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Unfortunately, the Apu Trilogy is a horrendous hack job by Columbia--stick with the extant VHS or the region-2 box set.

But the other magnificent news from Criterion (via their new catalogue bundled with today's must-buy release of Tokyo Story) is that they will be releasing Robert Bresson's Diary of a Country Priest in Jan/Feb.

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"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Great story, Christian. Reminds me of when I took my first-year university prof aside and chastised him for using the phrase "Christian heresy" -- if it's heresy, it can't be Christian! What an idjit I was.


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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The Criterion DVD's release is upon us ... (Link to the earlier DVD thread.)


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Ron Reed reviews Ikiru at ChristianityTodayMovies.com!

BRAVO, Ron! Nicely done!

\"Ikiru\" means \"to live,\" and this is in every way a resurrection story: a simple man is desperate to find new life as he faces his own death. Silver screens have seen an abundance of carpe diem films; quirky stories like Harold & Maude and Joe vs. the Volcano, Peter Weir projects like Dead Poets Society and Fearless, and a spate of more recent films like Pleasantville, American Beauty and even About Schmidt. Christians are often drawn to these movies and their secular conversions: we find parallels to our own experiences of rebirth, the sense that \"all things are become new.\" But as Frederick Buechner said, \"The world speaks of the holy in the only language it knows, which is a worldly language.\" It's hard to get away from the fact that these parables of rebirth often end up looking like little more than apologetics for self-indulgence.

 

Like the protagonists of so many films, Watanabe yearns to \"seize the day,\" to come forth like Lazarus from his tomb and reclaim his life. But this soft-spoken film is profoundly different from others when it shows what a man might do with his day once he seizes it, and in the rigorously unsentimental way it observes the effect of his decision on the people around him.

Watanabe discovers a hard road to a kind of redemption. It may be that he walks in the footsteps of Christ.


P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

 

"Forget it, Jake. It's Funkytown."    

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