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Film Club Schedule for 2010

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    Vili Maunula

    I realised that it’s already almost 2010 — brace yourselves for the year ending “top of the decade lists”, people, especially those of you who hate rankings! It is in fact probably better not to turn on your TV or computer at all in the next few months (except for ak.info, of course).

    Anyway, with the year number soon changing I realised that it would also be the time to come up with next year’s Film Club schedule, so that those who need to purchase the films can begin to plan their next year’s budget.

    We have ten movies left when the new year begins, and I think that there is still much left to discuss, even if the films themselves were not your first choices. For the previous years’ schedules, I asked for your votes and devised a schedule based on your suggestions, but looking at the films remaining, I thought I’d just go ahead and suggest the schedule myself. Here is what I had in mind:

    January: Dodesukaden (1970)

    February: Dreams (1990)

    March: Rhapsody in August (1991)

    April: Scandal (1950)

    May: Sanshiro Sugata (1943)

    June: The Most Beautiful (1944)

    July: The Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail (1945)

    August: Sanshiro Sugata II (1945)

    September: No Regrets for Our Youth (1946)

    October: One Wonderful Sunday (1947)

    Basically, what we have left are three more recent films, one early mid-period film (Scandal), and then the first six films of Kurosawa’s career. I suggest that we start with Dodesukaden, as for one Criterion went through the trouble of putting out a new print earlier this year, and secondly since the film has some strong connections with The Lower Depths (which we are discussing now), it would be good if there wasn’t too much time between the two.

    After that, I think we could deal with Dreams and Rhapsody in August, in that order, simply because they are generally available, while the availability of many of the remaining films is still something of a question mark for many of us. Following the same logic, I would say that we discuss Scandal in April. Since Criterion seems to be putting out something yummy later this year, I think that it is good if we in this way push the older films further in our schedule. Maybe by the time we get to them, copies of the early films are already readily available (I’m thinking individual DVDs here, as I doubt all of you are ready to pay $399 for a box set of films which you for the most part already own).

    I would also suggest that once we finally do get to the very early films, we go through them chronologically. I understand that many of you may not find the early films themselves as interesting as Kurosawa’s later works, so perhaps looking at them and Kurosawa’s early development as a film maker in sequence may add to your interest.

    There is also another reason for the chronological sequence. Some of you who started following the website only after we kicked off our film club have asked if we might continue with the Kurosawa Film Club even after all the Kurosawa films have been watched once, so that you could cover films that you missed the first time around. Now, if enough interest is there, I can certainly continue hosting the AK Film Club, and my semi-clever idea was that once the current cycle ends with One Wonderful Sunday (as it is in my current plan), the Film Club would simply continue, this time going through Kurosawa’s career chronologically (and in doing so maybe making it worthwhile for also the old regulars to stick around for second viewing).

    We have of course also talked about watching films other than Kurosawa movies, and I would really like to do that as well, perhaps with two Film Clubs running simultaneously, so we’ll have to see how everything fits in.

    In any case, this would mean that One Wonderful Sunday is the last film of the first Film Club. Some of you may remember that it is a film that I personally have a particular soft spot for, and I must say that the idea of having it as the last film of our film club (which I have thoroughly enjoyed, and continue to enjoy) makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside!

    But since this is not my film club, I am open for any kind of input. If you instead want to watch the films in a reversed chronological order, an alphabetical order, or the order of the films’ release dates’ Unix timestamps’ square roots sorted in a reverse descending order according to their proximity to prime numbers, I’m sure that we can work something out.

    Let me know what you think!

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    NoelCT

    If you’re looking for thoughts about a secondary film club, why not RUNAWAY TRAIN, AFTER THE RAIN, THE SEA IS WATCHING, and DORA-HEITA? The fact that they aren’t fully by Kurosawa alone could lead to some interesting discussion.

    And I very much share that soft spot for ONE WONDERFUL SUNDAY.

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    Ugetsu

    That schedule looks good to me. The only suggestion I’d make is that given how difficult it is to get a copy of Sanshiro Sugato II is, and how uninteresting a film it is claimed to be (I’ve never seen it), perhaps both Sanshiro movies could take up one month?

    I think looping back again chronologically is a great idea. With hindsight, I think discussing the films is better if there is some sort of structure, as I think in past discussions we were leaping onto very different unconnected films just as the discussion on one was getting really interesting. It could be done thematically, as Prince did, but I don’t think anyone would ever agree on which ones should be grouped together! So I’m really looking forward to discussing them in sequence.

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    Vili Maunula

    I for one would certainly be interested in discussing the films mentioned by Noel here, as well as other films based on scripts by Kurosawa and his team.

    Others have previously suggested that we also consider films from Kurosawa’s Japanese contemporaries (Ozu, Mizoguchi, Naruse, etc.) which I think is also something that we could do.

    A third group of potential films could be remakes and adaptations of Kurosawa’s works, and films that use the same source material as a Kurosawa film.

    I think we will need to vote about this at some point, but I personally wouldn’t like to start a parallel film club before we get through the first cycle of Kurosawa films (or, at the very earliest, when we get to the very early films, which may produce less discussion).

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    Vili Maunula

    Also, we could certainly tackle both Sanshiro Sugatas in one month as Ugetsu suggests. Even if it breaks the chronology somewhat.

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    Ryan

    I second the notion of After the Rain, considering it is Kurosawa’s screenplay that is used.

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    cocoskyavitch

    I think it would be interesting to a second pass on Kurosawa-with a comparative view of his contemporaries. You know-just to put it historical perspective, and to see what else was happening. I have another blog site on Ozu, that I also enjoy, but I don’t see where there is a comparative site…

    Now that more good-quality transfers and translations of films by Ozu, Mizoguchi, Kobayashi, Kurosawa are available, it would be fun to do a comparative project…after all, Kurosawa did not exist in a vaccuum.

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    Ugetsu

    A vote here too for Runaway Train, for me a hugely underrated film. It was actually for some years one of my all time favourite films despite that I only realised it was a Kurosawa script when I started looking at this site!

    Now that more good-quality transfers and translations of films by Ozu, Mizoguchi, Kobayashi, Kurosawa are available, it would be fun to do a comparative project…after all, Kurosawa did not exist in a vaccuum.

    I do like this idea – perhaps it could run in parallel to the AK Film Club? It would be nice to have some parallel discussions going, especially if the months film is one that doesn’t inspire a lot of comments (there are some that I admire, but honestly can’t think of anything interesting to say about them except that I like it – Dersu being one of them). I’m just finishing Joan Mellens book ‘The Waves on Genji’s Shore’ and it makes some very interesting comparisons between the various film makers in the post war years. She made a really interesting comparison between Kurosawa and Ozu’s use of Setsuko Hara – reflecting favourably on Kurosawa it must be said.

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    cocoskyavitch

    Ugetsu! I am happy to hear that Joan Mellen liked Kurosawa’s use of Hara I also think she is remarkable in No Regrets and in The Idiot! So different from her roles for Ozu! It makes me so happy…just as it pleases me to see what Kobayashi was able to draw from Nakadai!

    Would you mind posting your review of ‘The Waves on Genji’s Shore’ when you complete it? I would find it very interesting!

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    Ugetsu

    Would you mind posting your review of ‘The Waves on Genji’s Shore’ when you complete it?

    Will do (might be delayed as I’m following my usual habit of reading 3 books simultaneously!) I can say now that its a terrific book, a very good read. Its very opinionated (and very much ‘of its time’ – early ’70’s), but I enjoy that as it makes it more entertaining.

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    Jeremy

    To applaud with Yuzo.

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    littlebigsis

    the schedule sounds ace guys, im looking forward to it already. id be interested in reading your review of Mellens book Ugetsu as its one i’ve thought about getting once i’ve finished with my dissertation and then hopefully i can start participating in more of these discussions.

    cant wait xx

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    lawless

    The schedule sounds great and I’d be interested in a second pass on at least some of the films whose discussion I missed. Looking at adaptations and other Japanese films of the period also interests me.

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    Vili Maunula

    Having thought about it, I think that we should keep the chronology and watch the two Sanshiro Sugata films separately. If it’s worth doing chronologically, it is worth doing right. Also, if we have less discussion for those months, it leaves more time for the first films of the planned parallel film club of non-Kurosawa films.

    Or, does that sound stupid?

    In any case, I made a mistake. Sanshiro Sugata Part II was completed before The Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail. So, here is the revised schedule.

    January: Dodesukaden (1970)

    February: Dreams (1990)

    March: Rhapsody in August (1991)

    April: Scandal (1950)

    May: Sanshiro Sugata (1943)

    June: The Most Beautiful (1944)

    July: Sanshiro Sugata II (1945)

    August: The Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail (1945)

    September: No Regrets for Our Youth (1946)

    October: One Wonderful Sunday (1947)

    After October, we would just continue with the chronology.

    Like previously, if you already at this point have ideas for topics that you’d like to deal with and which require background reading or watching something more than the film itself, you can let others know of your intentions beforehand, so that those interested can also get hold of and familiarise themselves with the additional material.

    In fact, I think that I will be doing something like this with Dreams. I recently picked up a copy of Naguib Mahfouz‘s collection The Dreams, and I think that I won’t read it until February when we watch Kurosawa’s Dreams. The connection between the two goes deeper than just the title: Mahfouz’s is a collection of short dream narratives that he wrote at the end of his long career, from age 88 up until his death in 2006 at the age of 94. It may (or it may not) be interesting to compare his dreams to Kurosawa’s.

    Also, if you can think of other dream related works from artists past their 75th birthday, let me know!

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    hobosailor

    Hi folks,

    A newcomer here; I’m posting in this thread because I think that the AK Film Club idea as a whole is excellent–indeed, precisely the sort of discussion I enjoy. If I try to get on board for Scandal in April (the rest of March is busy for me), it will give me a great excuse to convince my spouse that I “need” to buy the Ecplise box. I just wish Criterion would ramp up their promised release of the pre-1946 titles, so I could restart at AK’s beginning with all of you. However, please consider this a newbie’s vote for the chronological restart plan, so that the Film Club discussions might keep rolling with Drunken Angel in November.

    One great thing is that, while I still have only seen Kurosawa on DVD, that’s about to change with a massive local AK festival in Palo Alto; a few weeks from now, I’ll have seen about 10 films on the big screen. Wow.

    This thread is filed under “Introduce Yourself,” so I hope it’s not rude to extend this “vote” post by doing so: I’m a lifelong film lover who has gradually traced my way back to the older films that influenced my contemporary favorites, and also to more aesthetically challenging films than the Hollywood fare I grew up with. I’m guessing that’s true for many folks here.

    As for Kurosawa: Until not long ago, I had seen Rashomon, parts of Seven Samurai, and parts of Ran, but nothing else, and I thought of those three films as “important” but nothing I would take lots of time to watch again. Then I was given the Criterion sets of Rashomon and 7S as gifts, and started exploring. I couldn’t believe what I was watching: somehow, something clicked and I was completely stupefied by the power and beauty of these films. In the past few months, the experience has intensified, and now AK is an obsession for me. I’m reading every book I can get my hands on, Richie, Prince, Goodwin, buying any DVD I can afford. A “day off” in the past several weeks is merely synonymous, for me, with “A chance to watch a Kurosawa film.” That’s why I went looking for sites, and this one impresses me the most, by far, in terms of the quality of discussion. Thanks, Vili.

    So far, I’ve watched The Quiet Duel, Rashomon, Seven Samurai, Throne of Blood, Hidden Fortress, Yojimbo, Sanjuro, and Ran. I can’t even begin to “rank” these; each has its unique, singular quality for me and only Quiet Duel is not up to the level of the others (though I find it interesting, especially Mifune’s performance).

    I’m thrilled to find a place where other people are as fascinated by these films as I am. When I become interested in a great artist, I tend to dive in all the way, trying to make sense of everything I can learn. I’m all the way in with AK now, and would be glad to learn whatever others have to share. (dylanexpert, if you’re reading this post and you mean bob and not the poet, I’m right there with you, we should talk dylan sometime).

    As for other major film interests, I’d say Welles (with reservations), Ozu (only lately), Coppola and Scorsese in small doses, Boetticher and the Coens in any doses at all; the director who’s been my favorite until Kurosawa is Aronofsky.

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    Ugetsu

    Hi hobosailor, good to have you here, we need a few more perspectives to spice up the comments! Its gone a bit quiet now as people don’t seem to be so interested in Kurosawa’s later films (and also, as in my case, hobbled by lack of Region II availability), but I’m sure it’ll liven up later. I’m really looking forward to tackling the early classics again, I think we only scratched the surface of most of the films in the first round of the AK film club.

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    Vili Maunula

    Indeed, it’s been a bit quiet here lately, and I suppose that it’s partly my fault for not having been able to be a more active host for various reasons.

    Which reminds me: would someone be interested in taking over the planning and execution of the planned Non-Kurosawa Film Club, where we would watch films other than Kurosawa? Basically, someone should come up with a schedule, and if possible recommendations for possible background reading and such.

    Oh, and welcome to the group hobosailor!

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