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Related News Roundup: Ozu, Mifune, Sandler and More

Toshiro Mifune in ScandalIt’s again time to look at what Akira Kurosawa related news and links have been posted online recently. This time, we have some Kurosawa articles and lectures, a couple of Ozu links, one piece of Mifune gossip, and Adam Sandler. If that doesn’t get your week started, what will?

We shall kick off with an article titled Abbas Kiarostami Meets Akira Kurosawa, which Cinephilia & Beyond has posted as a republication of an article originally published in Film International in 1993, and which recounts a meeting in Tokyo between Kurosawa and the Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami in September that year. It seems to have been a nice little meeting.

And while you are at Cinephilia & Beyond, you may also want to check out their recent post Akira Kurosawa on watching ‘Solaris’ with Andrei Tarkovsky.

On the other hand, if you find yourself in or around the US state of Michigan, you may be interested to hear that the Saginaw Valley State University Department of Modern Foreign Languages will have a lecture on Friday titled “Rethinking ‘Postwar’ Japanese Culture as ‘Cold War’ Culture: The Case of Kurosawa Akira”. According to the news announcement, “the lecture seeks to broaden understanding of Kurosawa by examining how he skillfully threaded his way through the minefields of Cold War cultural politics, simultaneously invoking and denying his connection to Soviet aesthetic theories and film practices.” The lecture starts at 10 am on Friday and will be given by author and professor Michael Bourdaghs. Do report back if you attend!

On the other hand, if you rather spend your Friday evening at your parents’, Jeff Lombardi at Flickhart suggests Yojimbo as a film to watch with your dad.

Meanwhile, Boing Boing features a short visual article by Colin Marshall titled A Hypnotic Supercut of Passageways in Yasujirō Ozu Movies, which points out Ozu’s interest in passageways. Enough said.

And if those passageways are your thing, you will be delighted to hear that Criterion has announced a new Ozu Eclipse set, Silent Ozu: Three Crime Dramas, which collects the early 1930s films Walk Cheerfully, That Night’s Wife and Dragnet Girl. The set will be out on April 21.

Of course, what you guys really come to Akira Kurosawa info is the latest entertainment biz gossip and banter, and boy do I have a scoop for you. Apparently, Toshiro Mifune’s daughter Mika Mifune is ready for some serious ‘me’ time, which appears to mean that she is ready to divorce her estranged rock star husband George Takahashi. I do wish them both all the best.

And finally, there is a new Netflix film in development starring Adam Sandler and titled Ridiculous 6, and it is described as something of a spoof on westerns. It may therefore be safe to assume that it will also be distantly related to Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. The cast was recently revealed and the shooting is about to start any day now. No word yet on release date.


Discussion

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Laird Wilcox

The three new Ozu movies are good news. I have many of his films and all of those offered by Criterion, which does a very good job of cleaning them up and often adds very interesting interviews, “making of” shorts and other enhancements. There are a number of good Japanese films it has not added to their list, however, and I hope someone with the company looks into this.

I am REALLY interested in obtaining a copy of the new DVD on Toshiro Mifune, “Mifune: The Last Samurai.” I checked Amazon and was routed to the older film starring Mifune also entitled “The Last Samurai” which was far from the new film I am searching to buy.

I’ve tried to locate and obtain as many Toshiro Mifune films as I can that appear with English subtitles. I am also very fond of Takashi Shimura and have many of his films, too. Mifune and Shimura often appeared together even outside of the Kurosawa orbit. I deeply regret the breakup of Mifune and Kurosawa after Ikiru. We can only wonder when wonderful films might have come afterward.

In the next year or so I am going to publish an annotated filmography of the 345 Japanese films in my collection — nearly all made between 1930 and 1980 with particular emphasis on the “golden age” of Japanese film, which I take to be from about 1935 until around 1970, speaking broadly. The emphasis will be on the 1950’s and 1960’s films.

It will be annotated, list actors and contain a short plot description. Only a few of the Yakuza and “Pink Eiga” films are included and only if there is a serious story to tell. There are also a few ghost titles but only one Monster film: Gojira, otherwise known as Godzilla. Many of the films are from the Criterion Collection.

With respect to Gojira, it was being made at the same time as Seven Samurai in 1954 and when some of the actors weren’t waiting through one of Kurosawa’s periodic shutdowns on that film they worked on Gojira. About six of the actors from Seven Samurai appeared in Gojira, including Takashi Shimura.

The filmography will be posted online. If anyone has a suggested place please let me know. Laird Wilcox, lwilcox3@aol.com.

Also included will be sources where these films might be obtained. When I began accumulating Japanese films with English subtitles in the late 1990s they were hard to locate. By 2010 this began to change and now it’s fairly easy to obtain most titles that are available.

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