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Non-Kurosawa Film Club (what to watch?)

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    Vili Maunula

    Okay, let’s see if I can get some discussion going here. We’ve been considering a film club that would run parallel to the Kurosawa one, and which would include non-Kurosawa films that we would like to discuss. I’ve tried to bring up this topic a couple of times, but due to various time-related issues, it hasn’t really moved forward.

    But now that I just bought Donald Richie’s A Hundred Years of Japanese Film in order to read the updated edition and to educate myself about Japanese cinema outside of Kurosawa, I thought that it could perhaps also be the time for us to kick-start our Film Club #2?

    Of course, in order to do that, we would need to agree on the format and the content. Hence, two questions:

    1) Do you think that our one-film-per-month format would be adequate also for the parallel film club? If yes, should we schedule the films so that a new film is introduced on the 15th of every month, so as to have it less in sync with the main film club?

    2) What films would you like us to watch?

    I scanned through previous discussions on this topic, and noticed that the following have already been requested:

    – Runaway Train

    – After the Rain

    – The Sea is Watching

    – Dora-heita

    – 24 Eyes

    – Films by Ozu

    – Films by Mizoguchi

    – Films by Kobayashi

    – Films by Naruse

    – Films by Hayao Miyazaki

    – Films with Setsuko Hara

    – Films with Toshiro Mifune

    There may have been others that I missed. From outside of Japan, I think directors like Bergman, Eisenstein and John Ford, among others, could be included to the list.

    Personally, I’m pretty much open for anything. I suppose that watching films from other major Japanese film makers is a given, as is watching other Kurosawa-related films like Runaway Train. For some further ideas in the latter category, you can see my (incomplete) lists of films with Kurosawa’s involvement and Kurosawa remakes and such.

    Once we have decided what the schedule could be (and I’m not entirely sure how we should do that — would you like to vote on the films?), it would be nice if we also got some suggestions for background reading for the films. I don’t personally intend to do quite as much background reading for the parallel film club as I do for the Kurosawa one (not least because I don’t have the books), but a few books would never hurt. However, what to read depends quite much on what the films will be, so let’s discuss this in more detail when we have the schedule (feel free to throw in suggestions already, of course).

    Also, I would really appreciate it if those who honestly think that they would be taking part in the film club, could say so. I’m ready to run the club even with just two or three people actively participating, but it would be nice to have some sort of an idea about the numbers.

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    cocoskyavitch

    Great Idea, Vili.

    Personally, I would like to see a “Japanese Cinema” film club, and leave out the rest, marvelous though the rest may be. That can always come later, yo?

    If we target an area (Japanese Cinema) rather than opening up the forum to all of world cinema, I think our resultsing discussions would be more focussed and beneficial. I just viewed “When a Woman Ascends the Stairs” by Naruse last week. Would love to have a forum for discussion!

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    Ugetsu

    Great idea, I’d be very interested in this.

    There really is an endless list of films that could be chosen. I would like to discuss one or two of the Kurosawa scripted films – Runaway Train is a particular favorite of mine (interestingly enough, its a film I loved long before I found out it was originally a Kurosawa script).

    But I do agree with Coco, in that I think it would be better to broadly focus on Japanese cinema. I do think that we can gain a better picture of Kurosawas films by looking at what his contemporaries were doing at the same time.

    At the moment I’m particularly fascinated by the immediate post war films. Apart from the fact that some truly amazing films were made, its really interesting to contrast the approaches Kurosawa, Naruse, Ozu and Mizoguchi took to the same broad issues. To take an example, I think we can get a better idea of what Kurosawa was getting at with One Wonderful Sunday by looking also at an Ozu film like Record of a Tenement Gentleman which is set very much in the same sort of situation (but a very different film). It would also be interesting to contrast the way he used Setsuko Hara in his films with the type of roles she played for Naruse and Ozu.

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    Ryan

    Juzo Itami.

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    Jeremy

    I’m not sure it’s necessary to stick just to Japanese films, I would think the natural tendency on a Kurosawa site, is to reflect films that follow similar enough to Kurosawa that we could safely threads the world’s cinema without getting too wide. Bergman, Eisenstein and John Ford seem quite nature and complementing to Kurosawa, while I’m quite certain any fears of discussing the likes of Kevin Smith’s Clerks on this site is rather unwarranted.

    Kurosawa themes are worldwide, and not unique to Japan, or Kurosawa, they however are often done quite different, and to much different effects. Some limited focus on others attempt at asking, and answering the same question, could quite easily add to Kurosawa, rather then distract.

    Unfortunately, I will be unable to participate in any such discussion for sometime, so this is just another one of my opinions that no one asked for, but I’m always quick to provide. 😳

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    hobosailor

    Thanks for the suggestion, Vili. As for numbers, count me in; at the rate of one film per month, I can reliably butt my individual interests in among the Netflix queue in my household.

    As for suggestions, as a newcomer to the site I will look forward to exploring whatever films long-standing members choose. I will say that Japanese cinema is a new passion for me, so I will be especially looking forward to Naruse, Ozu, Mizoguchi, Kobayashi and Miyazaki.

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    Ugetsu

    Having given this a bit of thought, I would suggest one good way to organise this would be to ‘pair’ an appropriate film with whatever film we have in the AK Club. The ‘pair’ would be a film that either influences, or is influenced by the film in question, or is contemporary and deals with some of the same subjects, or has been compared favorably or unfavourably, by other critics. Off the top of my head, examples of such pairings might be:

    No Regrets for our Youth/24 Eyes (both dealing with post war guilt).

    Rashomon/Ugetsu Monogatari (both dealing with the unreliability of objective truth)

    The Lower Depths(AK)/The Lower Depths (Renoir)

    Red Beard/The Human Condition (Kobayashi)

    One Wonderful Sunday/A Hen in the Wind, or Record of a Tenement Gentleman (Ozu)

    Being a big Ozu fan, I’d like to see a few of his films discussed – the problem is that there are so many of them, mostly all of the same high standard, its difficult to decide which ones! But I think that in favour of discussing Ozu, he has a lot of fans out there and they don’t have a forum as great as this one to discuss his films.

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    Longstone

    Hi everyone

    this is my first post but I’ve been really enjoying reading the site for a while now. It certainly is the best source of info and discussion of Kurosawa that I’ve found. The film club is great , I watched Scandal in both the U.S. and U.K. release versions and your discussions certainly added to the experience. I have searched in vain for sites of a similar quality on Ozu and other Japanese directors but they don’t seem to exist.

    So I hope you do get the non Kurosawa film discussions up and running.

    As a new poster I also shouldn’t offer too much of an opinion but as a Japanese cinema fan who can’t speak Japanese I would love to see more Japanese films discussed .

    I too find the post war period very interesting and I also like Ugetsu ‘s suggestion of pairing films up with the current Kurosawa film maybe by year or theme .

    Although I am an obsessive collector of Japanese film on DVD and Bluray with English subtitles I couldn’t justify buying the AK 100 set just for 4 films so I’ll have to wait for a Criterion Pre War Kurosawa set ( is this still happening ? ).

    The section here on how to get subtitled versions of DVDs is excellent and I am always trying to find similar resources for other directors . I try not to resort to the Hong Kong editions but with BFI , Criterion , Masters of Cinema , Animeigo and a few other labels it seems that a decent collection is available.

    anyway , great site , thank you

    keep up the good work

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    Vili Maunula

    Welcome to the non-lurkers’ group, Longstone! It would be great to hear your views on Scandal (or any other Kurosawa film), so feel free to contribute! 🙂

    Ugetsu: Having given this a bit of thought, I would suggest one good way to organise this would be to ‘pair’ an appropriate film with whatever film we have in the AK Club. The ‘pair’ would be a film that either influences, or is influenced by the film in question, or is contemporary and deals with some of the same subjects, or has been compared favorably or unfavourably, by other critics.

    I had exactly the same thought yesterday evening. This would also help us to get a bit more out of our second run of Kurosawa’s own films, as we could contrast and compare.

    So, I have now come up with a proposition for the schedule. Anything can of course still be changed, and we don’t have to set the whole schedule in stone, if we want to change something later. But it would be good to have a general idea of what’s coming and when.

    So, each month has two movies: the “primary” Kurosawa movie (these are in chronological order) and a second movie. Currently the only exception to this is April 2012, which I thought could be dedicated for Kurosawa’s “lost years” in the late 60s, and therefore has two non-Kurosawa movies. As I mentioned earlier, the Kurosawa movie for each month could change on the first day of the month, while the other movie would change on the 15th, so that they are less in sync.

    Since it was difficult for me to come up with suitable pairs for the early films, I thought that we could pair them with the two posthumous Kurosawa films. But would it be too difficult for those who don’t yet own After the Rain and The Sea is Watching to get hold of those films with such short notice (discussion of After the Rain would start on the 15th of May, so next week)? The Sea is Watching is generally available from Amazon (com and co.uk), while copies of After the Rain can be obtained for instance from eBay.

    There are some question marks (not sure about the availability of all films), and a couple of months when I have listed more than one possibility from which we could choose. All comments and arguments for and against these suggestions are more than welcome! As I said, this is just a proposition in which I have tried to take into account everyone’s hopes and wishes.

    PROPOSED SCHEDULE

    May 2010

    Sanshiro Sugata (1943)

    After the Rain (Koizumi 1999, late Kurosawa script)

    June 2010

    The Most Beautiful (1944)

    The Sea is Watching (Kumai 2002, late Kurosawa script, shared theme of women)

    July 2010

    Sanshiro Sugata II (1945)

    The 47 Ronin (Mizoguchi 1941, propaganda film [availability?])

    August 2010

    The Men Who Step on the Tiger’s Tail (1945)

    Those Who Make Tomorrow (Yamamoto-Kurosawa-Sekigawa 1946, contemporary [availability?])

    September 2010

    No Regrets for Our Youth (1946)

    24 Eyes (Kinoshita 1954, thematic link)

    October 2010

    One Wonderful Sunday (1947)

    A Hen in the Wind (Ozu 1948, thematic link and contemporaries)

    November 2010

    Drunken Angel (1948)

    Record of a Tenement Gentleman (Ozu 1947, contemporaries)

    December 2010

    The Quiet Duel (1949)

    Late Spring (Ozu 1949, contemporaries, Setsuko Hara)

    January 2011

    Stray Dog (1949)

    The Life of Oharu (Mizoguchi 1952, near contemporary, Mifune)

    February 2011

    Scandal (1950)

    The Outrage (Ritt 1964, Rashomon remake)

    March 2011

    Rashomon (1950)

    Ugetsu monogatari (Mizoguchi 1953, thematic link)

    April 2011

    The Idiot (1951)

    Repast (Naruse 1951, contemporary films with Setsuko Hara)

    or: Early Summer (Ozu 1951, contemporary films with Setsuko Hara)

    May 2011

    Ikiru (1952)

    Tokyo Story (Ozu 1953, contemporaries, some shared themes, Setsuko Hara)

    June 2011

    Seven Samurai (1954)

    Sansho the Bailiff (Mizoguchi 1954, contemporary)

    or: The Magnificent Seven (Sturges 1960, remake)

    or: Samurai Trilogy (Inagaki 1954-56, Mifune)

    July 2011

    Record of a Living Being (1955)

    Godzilla (Honda 1954, contemporary and shared theme)

    August 2011

    Throne of Blood (1957)

    Macbeth (Welles 1948, shared source)

    or: Macbeth (Polanski 1971, shared source)

    September 2011

    The Lower Depths (1957)

    The Lower Depths (Renoir 1936, shared source)

    October 2011

    The Hidden Fortress (1958)

    Star Wars (Lucas 1977, influence)

    November 2011

    The Bad Sleep Well (1960)

    When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (Naruse 1960, contemporaries)

    or: Night and Fog in Japan (Oshima 1960, contemporaries)

    December 2011

    Yojimbo (1961)

    A Fistful of Dollars (Leone 1964, remake)

    or: The Glass Key (Heisler 1942, influence on Kurosawa)

    January 2012

    Sanjuro (1962)

    Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo (Okamoto 1970, shared character, Mifune)

    February 2012

    High and Low (1963)

    The Insect Woman (Imamura 1963, contemporary)

    March 2012

    Red Beard (1965)

    The Human Condition trilogy (Kobayashi 1959-1961, thematic link)

    April 2012

    Runaway Train (Konchalovsky 1985, failed late 60s Kurosawa project)

    Tora! Tora! Tora! (Fleischer-Fukasaku-Masuda 1970, failed late 60s Kurosawa project)

    May 2012

    Dodesukaden (1970)

    Dora-heita (Ichikawa 2000, contemporary script)

    June 2012

    Dersu Uzala (1975)

    Princess Mononoke (Miyazaki 1997, thematic link)

    July 2012

    Kagemusha (1980)

    The Ballad of Narayama (Imamura 1983, near contemporary)

    August 2012

    Ran (1985)

    Tampopo (Itami 1985, contemporary)

    September 2012

    Dreams (1990)

    Black Rain (Imamura 1989, shared themes with Rhapsody in August)

    October 2012

    Rhapsody in August (1991)

    Grave of the Fireflies (Takahata 1988, somewhat shared theme)

    November 2012

    Madadayo (1993)

    The Last Dance (Itami 1993, contemporary and shared theme [availability?])

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    cocoskyavitch

    At first, Vili, I was quite disappointed in your list. Those early years are very rich in Japanese film, and seeing these minor fims rather than some of the wonderful available titles disappointed me-until I read deeper and saw some of later interesting pairings.

    But, I wish we could frame the “argument” by exploring some of the films that set the stage for Kurosawa. It would be useful to have a broader understanding of what existed when Kurosawa came on the stage.

    I would like you to consider Humanity and Paper Balloons, 1937by Yamanaka to kick off this series. So many artists found his work influential-the most relevant being Akira Kurosawa, who saw his jidai-geki tale of a masterless ronin as fuel for his own cinematic imagination! We really cannot overlook that film!

    And, it seems to me the whole gendai-geki and Benshi thing could be explored with an early Ozu silent. I suggest Ozu’s masterful, magical “I Was Born But….” 1932, as a good way to introduce contemporary (to the times) film…and to retrospectively illuminate the brilliant Japanese cinema that was extant, even in the silent era! Those two could make a nice pairing to start us out on the right foot!

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    Vili Maunula

    Thanks for the feedback, Coco! I completely forgot about Humanity and Paper Balloons.

    I Was Born But… could well be included as well, although I’m starting to be a little bit concerned about the number of Ozu films on the list. Not that I have anything against watching Ozu films, but I know that he’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

    In any case, we could certainly move After the Rain and The Sea Is Watching to the end of the list and watch them as “Kurosawa films” in 2012. Meanwhile, I’m really not so sure that anyone can get hold of a copy of The 47 Ronin (me included), so if we do the above, the first three slots (or two, if we won’t have anything this month) are pretty much available. One of them should be Humanity and Paper Balloons, I think.

    Let’s see what others think. As I said, I’m open for anything. 🙂

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    cocoskyavitch

    Hi Vili,

    Allright, you are the boss. But, there would be value for me in comparing and seeing the similarities, differences, connections and disconnects between these two masters.

    Personally, I think those who don’t like Ozu haven’t seen the early silents. Seriously. I had no idea that I would hold the early work in higher esteem than even the famous later works-but, I do! I find them infinitely more engaging, funny, powerful and heartbreaking.

    Anyway, it would be nice to find those who precede Kurosawa in order to set the stage for new ways of seeing Kurosawa in context and broadening our filmic horizons. Another gendai-geki from the silent period might suit as well, if you think so. I bow to your taste.

    As for Mizoguchi’s 47 Ronin is available on DVD from Amazon! Chushingura is such an important story. Wouldn’t it be fun to compare Inagaki’s version (with MIFUNE!!!) too? I have viewed both and have some big fat opinions rotting on the vine, here folks! Ha!

    I say this as I ready to depart for Vietnam in two days. Probably won’t be chatting to you all much after tomorrow for a while!

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    cocoskyavitch

    Sorry, just had to say, I am so excited about doing some comparative chatting. Wish there were ways of getting some more Kobayashi in there: Harakiri would be good, Kwaidan is so awesome, too…

    I also like The Burmese Harp by Ichikawa…would that work with Ikiru? In fact, since we’ve discussed most of the Kurosawa. maybe it would be like this:

    (example)

    May 2011

    The Burmese Harp by Ichikawa

    (Ikiru (1952) suggested Kurosawa reference)

    What I mean is, focus less on this just as “Kurosawa plus stuff” and more like, “Hey, let’s discuss some great films that might relate to some things we’ve seen in Kurosawa…”

    Believe me, I do not mean to be critical in a bad way…I just would like to see engagement at the level we have enjoyed extended to the bigger cinematic Japan.

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    Vili Maunula

    Coco, if it was just me, I could easily watch Ozu films only. But I know that there are some here who aren’t so keen on the idea, and I certainly don’t want to pour Ozu (or any other director) down anyone’s throat. Just trying to please everyone.

    My personal tastes don’t really come to play here, as I know so little of Japanese cinema.

    And while it would of course be great to watch every important and interesting film out there, unfortunately a day only has 24 hours and a month somewhere between 28 and 31 days, so we’ll have to pick and choose and compromise. I was a bit sad to see that there was no conceivable place for instance for John Ford films, but oh well, maybe we’ll smuggle his works in for the next Film Club cycle!

    I would also like to keep the main film club (the Kurosawa one) running for those who have joined us after we started the club. Besides, without meaning to downplay the works of other directors, Kurosawa is still very much the focus of the website here. 😉

    Thanks for the heads-up about the 47 Ronin copies on Amazon! Unfortuantely, they seem to be sold through the Marketplace, which doesn’t ship everywhere, including where I live. Some of the copies also seem to cost an arm and a leg! But eBay has some DVDs, so I think we should be covered if we decide to keep the film on the list.

    In any case, let’s see what others’ reactions are to the proposed schedule.

    Enjoy Vietnam! Work or pleasure?

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    Ugetsu

    Vili, thats a fantastic list, thanks for doing that – it all looks very exciting to me, I’m really looking forward to widening the discussion. I would just comment that whatever the ‘pairing’ you suggest I don’t see any reason why someone can’t post on the month before that they’ve seen a film relevant and suggest others watch it and discuss it too.

    Just to make some suggestions:

    May 2010: I don’t think I’ll be able to get a copy of After the Rain at such short notice. Can I suggest a more recent Asian action movie as a comparison to see the contemporary influences? I can’t think of one off the top of my head, but maybe something by John Woo, or even Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon?

    July 2010. I’d love to see the 47 Ronin, but I don’t think its widely available – I’ve looked at Amazon and they advertise it as a ‘Korean import’. I’ve no idea what sort of quality that will be.

    August 2010: I don’t know about the availability of ‘those who make tomorrow‘, although I’ve heard its a wonderful film. As a possible alternative, to discuss the use of Kibuki in Japanese film, a widely available (and very entertaining) film is An Actors Revenge by Kon Ichikawa.

    October 2010. I know A Hen in the Wind was my suggestion, but I’ve changed my mind! I suggested it on the basis of what I’ve read about it, but I think its actually a very hard dvd to source. Record of a Tenement Gentleman is, I think, more readily available (I’m in Region 2 land so I can’t speak for our Region 1 or elsewhere colleagues). But perhaps Repast or Mizoguchi’s The Lady of Musashino is a suitable alternative.

    Feb 2011. I’m not sure if The Outrage is commonly available? I’ve never seen it on DVD. If its not, maybe there would be a good example of a contemporary US courtroom drama to compare it? Or something by Capra.

    April 2011. Can I suggest that Naruse’s Sound of the Mountain is a better choice than Repast? I suggest it because it also has Setsuko Hara, but it is also, like The Idiot, an adaption of a very literary novel (by Kawabata). So we can discuss the issue of how to adapt literature at the same time. Its also, in my opinion, a superior film to Repast (although I like them both).

    July 2011/October 2012. Can I suggest that for one of these films we pair it with Alain Resnais’s Hiroshima mon Amour?

    November 2012: I think Can we Dance is quite commonly available. But as an alternative, one on the theme of reverence for the old (and deceased), can I suggest John Heustons adaption of James Joyce’s The Dead? As an incentive, when you come to Dublin I’ll show you where it was filmed!

    Hey Coco, enjoy Vietnam – don’t forget to try out as much street food (and cane juice) as you can and remember that if anyone asks you how long you’ve been in Vietnam always say ‘very long time!’ You are less likely to get ripped off that way 😉

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    Ugetsu

    And while I’m on a roll (feel free to ignore these suggestions Vili, they are very much top of my head)

    November/February 2012. Could we choose maybe an American thriller of the 1970’s as a contrast to one of these? I suggest this because I think that Kurosawas thrillers were very influential on Scorsese, Coppola, Spielberg, etc. Maybe Godfather or even Chinatown (given the noirish look at corruption). I’d personally replace the Ballad of Narayama as I think we’ve enough examples of Imamura, and I don’t think its very widely available anyway.

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    Vili Maunula

    I would just comment that whatever the ‘pairing’ you suggest I don’t see any reason why someone can’t post on the month before that they’ve seen a film relevant and suggest others watch it and discuss it too.

    Certainly. It’s good to bear in mind though that the more films we have per month, the more scattered the discussion will be. Not least because not everyone will be able to purchase several films a month or has the time to watch them.

    I don’t think I’ll be able to get a copy of After the Rain at such short notice. Can I suggest a more recent Asian action movie as a comparison to see the contemporary influences?

    I think we maybe better just skip this month’s feature altogether, and start in June. That way, we’ll have time to plan properly.

    I’d love to see the 47 Ronin, but I don’t think its widely available – I’ve looked at Amazon and they advertise it as a ‘Korean import’. I’ve no idea what sort of quality that will be.

    According to DVD Beaver, the Korean 47 Ronin import is passable, basically a copy of a now out-of-print American edition.

    I don’t know about the availability of ‘those who make tomorrow’, although I’ve heard its a wonderful film. As a possible alternative, to discuss the use of Kibuki in Japanese film, a widely available (and very entertaining) film is An Actors Revenge by Kon Ichikawa.

    Those Who Make Tomorrow indeed seems quite unavailable. I haven’t seen the Ichikawa film (the title in the US seems to be Revenge of a Kabuki Actor), we could certainly watch it.

    I know A Hen in the Wind was my suggestion, but I’ve changed my mind! I suggested it on the basis of what I’ve read about it, but I think its actually a very hard dvd to source.

    That indeed seems to be true.

    Following Coco’s suggestion, I also looked for I Was Born But…, but it seems that the only edition in which it is available is the Eclipse box set in Region 1?

    I’m not sure if The Outrage is commonly available?

    The Outrage is available in Region 1. Amazon.com currently sells it for eight dollars. Seems to be less available in Europe though.

    Can I suggest that Naruse’s Sound of the Mountain is a better choice than Repast? I suggest it because it also has Setsuko Hara, but it is also, like The Idiot, an adaption of a very literary novel (by Kawabata). So we can discuss the issue of how to adapt literature at the same time. Its also, in my opinion, a superior film to Repast (although I like them both).

    I’d be ok with that, although Repast is an exact contemporary, released on the same year as The Idiot.

    Can I suggest that for one of these films we pair it with Alain Resnais’s Hiroshima mon Amour?

    Also I thought about Hiroshima Mon Amour, but ended up suggesting the Japanese films for these occasions. We can certainly watch Hiroshima Mon Amour if either Godzilla or Grave of the Fireflies doesn’t gather support, although the former is of course by Kurosawa’s long-time friend, and the latter a film Kurosawa specifically praised.

    I think Can we Dance is quite commonly available.

    Is this the same film as the Itami one, though (or are you thinking about Shall We Dance?). The Itami film, original title Daibyonin, also seems to go by the name The Seriously Ill. I haven’t seen the film, but the topic (“the final year of a successful film director suffering from cancer”) somehow seemed very fitting to discuss with Madadayo. Unfortunately, it once again seems to be rather unavailable.

    But as an alternative, one on the theme of reverence for the old (and deceased), can I suggest John Heustons adaption of James Joyce’s The Dead? As an incentive, when you come to Dublin I’ll show you where it was filmed!

    🙂 The Dead is an option.

    November/February 2012. Could we choose maybe an American thriller of the 1970’s as a contrast to one of these? I suggest this because I think that Kurosawas thrillers were very influential on Scorsese, Coppola, Spielberg, etc. Maybe Godfather or even Chinatown (given the noirish look at corruption). I’d personally replace the Ballad of Narayama as I think we’ve enough examples of Imamura, and I don’t think its very widely available anyway.

    I’d be ok with that. I think replacing Imamura’s The Insect Woman with one of these could work? Was that what you meant? Ballad of Narayama comes only later on the list, and I think that the DVD is actually available from both the UK and US Amazon?

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    Ugetsu

    I’ve no problem all with your suggestions there. If you think ‘I was born but….’ is too difficult to get, its ‘remake’ ‘Ohayo‘ is quite easy to find (I watched it for the first time this weekend, its delightful, even if it has more fart jokes per minute than any film I’ve ever seen).

    Those Who Make Tomorrow indeed seems quite unavailable. I haven’t seen the Ichikawa film (the title in the US seems to be Revenge of a Kabuki Actor), we could certainly watch it.

    Sorry, I was confused again – I was thinking of Make Way for Tomorrow, not Those Who Make Tomorrow. I was thinking of ‘Make Way’ because apparently it was quite an influence on Japanese film makers – Ozu said he was thinking of it when making Tokyo Story.

    I’ve no problem with either Repast or Sound of the Mountain, both skilfully made and fascinating films, well worth discussing. My only reason for recommending ‘Sound’ is that its source book is easier to find if someone wants a comparison, although Kawabata actually wrote the screenplay for Repast as well.

    And yes indeed I did confuse ‘Shall We Dance‘ with ‘Can we Dance‘. I don’t know anything about the Itami film, but it sounds interesting. Maybe if we want a film about someone dying of cancer we could do Love Story 😉 . Or maybe not!

    I’d be ok with that. I think replacing Imamura’s The Insect Woman with one of these could work? Was that what you meant? Ballad of Narayama comes only later on the list, and I think that the DVD is actually available from both the UK and US Amazon?

    I’ve no strong view on what to replace it with, I haven’t seen any of those films (I’ve no strong view that they should be replaced either, I do like the idea of sticking to Japanese films when in doubt what to choose). There are two versions of the Ballad of Narayama, btw, I’ve seen the earlier Kinoshita one, the later one is supposed to be better.

    For someone who claims not to know much about Japanese cinema Vili… you know a lot!

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    cocoskyavitch

    Well, guys, I make one last plea for including silent Ozu to help kick things off. Replace some of the later stuff, if you have to cut, but do include silent Ozu. The thing Kurosawa called “cinematic beauty” is very much in evidence in some of the early works, and they are as powerful and deeply moving (and sometimes quite hilarious!) as anything ever made…genius works, really.

    Wow, so much to do so little time..Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, China and Tibet…leaving Monday. Work is pleasure, Vili.

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    Fabien

    I don’t know if I can gather enough time and knowledge to contribute but this schedule is very interesting and I will certainly read, at least.

    If Ichikawa hadn’t already been proposed, I would have done it, and added Fires on the Plain / Nobi, to be compared with The Most Beautiful and Those Who Make Tomorrow on WW2 and propaganda themes.

    I know nearly nothing about this, but I believe that Ichikawa didn’t direct any film during WW2 and that Nobi tends to show japanese army as a victim (even if some japanese soldiers are shown as monsters), meanwhile Kurosawa directed films during and after WW2, which might be considered as propaganda but insisted on individual value (as opposed to sacrifice principle which places emperor and nation far away above individual) in the former and denied the latter.

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    Vili Maunula

    I will post a revised proposition for the schedule this weekend. I think that it is safe to assume that we won’t be starting the non-Kurosawa club this month, as it’s already almost the middle of the month?

    Coco has gotten me really interested in silent Ozu now. Does anyone know if Ozu’s silent films are available in Europe, or if any of the films are even sold separately? All I can find is the Eclipse box set with three silent films, and a double pack of A Story of Floating Weeds and Floating Weeds. Both are somewhat costly as well as being region 1 (although is there anyone here for whom region coding actually matters?).

    Fabien, I’ll think about Fires on the Plain. It was on my list at some point, but then got replaced by something else. So many films to see, so little time!

    I’m glad to hear that work is pleasure for you Coco! These past months I have been cyclically switching between hating what I do and absolutely loving it. I’m not sure if it’s a good sign.

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    Ugetsu

    Coco

    Wow, so much to do so little time..Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, China and Tibet…leaving Monday.

    :

    Me very jealous – thats a list of some of my favourite countries to visit.

    Vili

    Does anyone know if Ozu’s silent films are available in Europe, or if any of the films are even sold separately?

    So far as I know, they are only available in Region II – the ones I have are all Criterion. Tartan only do post war Ozu I think. The only pre-war English subtitled Region II Japanese film I’ve ever been able to find was Humanity and Paper Balloons.

    As for Ichikawa, he made two versions of Burmese Harp. I’ve only seen the earlier one – the later one is apparently pretty bad. Its an interesting film in the context of post-war guilt as, while it is a beautiful and effective tear jerker, it is also morally quite slippery, even going as far as to suggest that the locals quite liked having the Imperial Army roll over them. I think it was in the DVD extra for Fire on the Plain that it was suggested that he and Natto Wada (his effective co-director and wife) always thought of Burmese Harp as a commercial film, a studio pleaser. Its suggested that they talked the studio into thinking that Fire on the Plain was an action war movie, rather than a very grim anti-war tirade (Burmese Harp was a big commercial success, they were determined to make the most of their ‘credit’ with the studio). Both of them considered ‘Fire’ to be their real war film. Its a very powerful work, although I’m inclined to the opinion that its not the best for the club as I don’t think its an ‘interesting’ work. By this I mean, its all very straightforward – it depicts war as hell and thats pretty much that, not much more to say! I think Ichikawa’s playful films, like An Actors Revenge, are actually much more interesting.

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    Longstone

    The BFI Ozu Bluray UK releases in July will also contain a DVD with an extra film on .

    They will be paired,

    Tokyo Story / Brothers and sisters of the Toda family

    Late Spring / The Only Son

    Early Summer / What did the Lady Forget

    so maybe they will release more titles too. As far as I can work out the Tartan titles seem deleted now as Record of a Tenement Gentleman is hard to find and lists on Amazon marketplace at high prices.

    I don’t think there are any of the silent films available outside of the US.

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    cocoskyavitch

    Longstone said, : …

    I don’t think there are any of the silent films available outside of the US.

    Gee, I hope that’s not true. I want you guys to be able to experience the stunning…truly remarkable world of silent Ozu. I know it knocked my socks off.

    Thanks, anyway, for considering this idea, Vili, whether it works or not. I wish y’all had NETFLIX over there!

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    Longstone

    Its possible to pick up the Criterion box set ” Silent Ozu” at a reasonable price ,

    there are several US companies listing it on Amazon UK for around 25 pounds.

    Obviously this will need a multi region player. I don’t understand the need to region code films that are so old but I guess that’s the way it is.

    The recent BFI Ozu retrospective in London screened all of his films that still exist so I’m hoping they release some of the silents after they have put out the three Bluray titles.

    I think Criterion have a new Ozu release coming up soon too.

    http://www.criterion.com/boxsets/730-the-only-son-there-was-a-father-two-films-by-yasujiro-ozu

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    Longstone

    Just done some checking and Moviemail ( a very good UK DVD online seller) reports that the BFI will release 32 Ozu films on DVD over the next 3 years .

    http://www.moviemail-online.co.uk/news/news=815

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    Ugetsu

    Thats good news Longstone, lets hope they do a better job of it than they did with their Kurosawa releases.

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    Vili Maunula

    I wanted to post a revised schedule on Sunday, but other matters took my time, while yesterday went in sorting out problems with the website (everything should work again now). Today, my schedule was completely redrawn by a quick trip that I had to make, and tomorrow I’ll be leaving for a longer trip, from which I will return towards the end of the month.

    Although I will have web access, I am not sure how much free time I will have, so I think it’ll take a while for the revised schedule to materialise, as I want to do it properly.

    But we could try to decide what our non-Kurosawa film will be for June (starting June 15). How would Humanity and Paper Balloons sound like?

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    Ugetsu

    I’d be happy with that, I love that film (I won’t be able to discuss The Most Beautiful as its the one dvd I can’t seem to be able to get).

    I’d just make a suggestion though that maybe as its Kurosawa’s ‘ensemble female’ film, perhaps we’d choose one that complements it – perhaps something like Naruse’s Flowing, or Mozoguchi’s Sisters of the Gion or Street of Shame? Just a suggestion, I’m happy with Humanity and Paper Balloons too.

    Good to see you got the website problem sorted, hope it wasn’t too much of a headache for you.

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    Vili Maunula

    Since the only reply to my post about the film for June was Ugetsu’s, since I have unfortunately had no time to prepare anything for this month, and since I happen to have Naruse’s Flowing in my collection unwatched, I shall now use my power as the host and declare that the Non-Kurosawa Film Club will kick off next Tuesday, the 15th of this month, with Naruse’s Flowing.

    Sorry if this comes a bit late. As I said, I’ve been fairly busy.

    Any suggestions for July’s non-Kurosawa feature, when the Kurosawa film club will discuss Sanshiro Sugata II? Could we find something relatively contemporary to the Kurosawa film? Or shall we finally go with Humanity and Paper Balloons?

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    Ugetsu

    I’m happy to go with Humanity and Paper Balloons.

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    hobosailor

    I’ll look forward to reading the thoughts others here offer regarding Flowing and Humanity and Paper Balloons. Alas, I’ll remain an outsider/lurker: I have not found any ways to watch either film in the U.S., where I live, without buying an all-region player (I’m afraid I don’t have the wallet for that). If other U.S. members have any ideas about alternatives, I’d be very grateful to read them.

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    Ugetsu

    hobosailor, thanks to Vili’s advice I tried out AnyDVD from Slysoft. It has a one month trial period (very expensive after that, probably not much cheaper than just buying a multi region). But the trial period should be enough to see all the Region 1 films you want if you can get your hands on the DVD’s.

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    hobosailor

    Thanks for the advice, Ugetsu; alas, in addition to living in the land of shabby classic Japanese cinema on DVD (aka the U.S.), I’m also a Mac user.

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    Ugetsu

    Ah, maybe this is Steve Jobs little plot to wipe out Japanese culture, I wouldn’t put it past him.

    But as someone living in Region II I can assure you the grass is always greener….. Criterion definitely rules when it comes to quality Japanese classics releases. I’ve only seen more available in Asia, and the quality there is often very poor.

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    Vili Maunula

    I finally had some time (this took me four hours) to revise the earlier proposed schedule. Here is my new proposal, which tries to take into account all sorts of suggestions, including the idea of restarting the Kurosawa club after the early films are more available and the request for more early Japanese films. I also went through the previous list and dropped everything that wasn’t really available for purchase — unfortunately we lost a few interesting titles that way.

    As you can now see, there will be no film from July 1st, as the Kurosawa club is taking a break until the Eclipse box set is released.

    Since it seems to me that most region 2 (Europe) visitors here have found ways to play region 1 (North America) DVDs, while the opposite is not necessarily true, I have included a few films that are available only in region 1, and have tried to stay away from region 2 only films.

    Let me know what you think.

    …………

    PROPOSED SCHEDULE

    July 1, 2010: no film

    July 15, 2010: Humanity and Paper Balloons

    (Yamanaka 1937)

    Rationale: Highly influential early film.

    Availability: Amazon.co.uk (R2) (unavailable in other regions?)

    August 2010: silent Ozu month

    Tokyo Chorus (Ozu 1931)

    I Was Born But… (Ozu 1932)

    Passing Fanzy (Ozu 1933)

    Rationale: Early Ozu.

    Availability: Amazon.com (R1) (unavailable in other regions?)

    September 1, 2010: Sanshiro Sugata and Sanshiro Sugata II

    (Kurosawa 1943, 1945)

    Availability: see Kurosawa DVDs

    September 15, 2010: The 47 Ronin

    (Mizoguchi 1941)

    Rationale: Propagandist action film, like Kurosawa’s Sanshiro Sugata films.

    Availability: eBay (all regions), Amazon.com (all regions)

    October 1, 2010: The Most Beautiful

    (Kurosawa 1944)

    Availability: see Kurosawa DVDs

    October 15, 2010: Japanese Girls at the Harbor and Mr. Thank You

    (Shimizu 1933, 1936)

    Rationale: Two (fairly short) early Japanese films from a lesser known but influential film maker.

    Availability: Amazon.com (R1) (unavailable in other regions?)

    November 1, 2010: The Men Who Step on the Tiger’s Tail

    (Kurosawa 1945)

    Availability: see Kurosawa DVDs

    November 15, 2010: The Masseurs and a Woman and Ornamental Hairpin

    (Shimizu 1938, 1941)

    Rationale: Two (fairly short) early Japanese films from a lesser known but influential film maker.

    Availability: Amazon.com (R1) (unavailable in other regions?)

    December 1, 2010: No Regrets for Our Youth

    (Kurosawa 1946)

    Availability: see Kurosawa DVDs

    December 15, 2010: 24 Eyes

    (Kinoshita 1954)

    Rationale: Thematic link with No Regrets for Our Youth.

    Availability: Amazon.com (R1) or Amazon.co.uk (R2)

    January 1, 2011: One Wonderful Sunday

    (Kurosawa 1947)

    Availability: see Kurosawa DVDs

    January 15, 2011: It Happened One Night

    (Capra 1934)

    Rationale: Influence on One Wonderful Sunday, thematic link.

    Availability: Amazon.com (R1) or Amazon.co.uk (R2)

    February 1, 2011: Drunken Angel

    (Kurosawa 1948)

    Availability: see Kurosawa DVDs

    February 15, 2011: A Hen in the Wind

    (Ozu 1948)

    Rationale: A thematic link of sorts with One Wonderful Sunday and Drunken Angel, contemporaries.

    Availability: Amazon.com (all regions) or eBay (all regions)

    March 1, 2011: The Quiet Duel

    (Kurosawa 1949)

    Availability: see Kurosawa DVDs

    March 15, 2011: Late Spring

    (Ozu 1949)

    Rationale: Released the same year as The Quiet Duel.

    Availability: Amazon.com (R1) or Amazon.co.uk (R2)

    April 1, 2011: Stray Dog

    (Kurosawa 1949)

    Availability: see Kurosawa DVDs

    April 15, 2011: The Life of Oharu

    (Mizoguchi 1952)

    Rationale: Near contemporary with Stray Dog, both with Toshiro Mifune.

    Availability: Amazon.co.uk (R2) or eBay (region free, but unknown quality)

    May 1, 2011: Scandal

    (Kurosawa 1950)

    Availability: see Kurosawa DVDs

    May 15, 2011: The Outrage

    (Ritt 1964)

    Rationale: Remake of Rashomon.

    Availability: Amazon.com (R1) or Amazon.co.uk (R2)

    June 1, 2011: Rashomon

    (Kurosawa 1950)

    Availability: see Kurosawa DVDs

    June 15, 2011: Ugetsu monogatari

    (Mizoguchi 1953)

    Rationale: Thematic link with Rashomon.

    Availability: Amazon.com (R1) or Amazon.co.uk (R2)

    July 1, 2011: The Idiot

    (Kurosawa 1951)

    Availability: see Kurosawa DVDs

    July 15, 2011: Early Summer

    (Ozu 1951)

    Rationale: Release the same year as The Idiot, both with Setsuko Hara.

    Availability: Amazon.com (R1) or Amazon.co.uk (R2)

    August 1, 2011: Ikiru

    (Kurosawa 1952)

    Availability: see Kurosawa DVDs

    August 15, 2011: Tokyo Story

    (Ozu 1953)

    Ratioanle: Some shared themes with Ikiru, another Setsuko Hara film.

    Availability: Amazon.com (R1) or Amazon.co.uk (R2)

    September 1, 2011: Seven Samurai

    (Kurosawa 1954)

    Availability: see Kurosawa DVDs

    September 15, 2011: The Magnificent Seven

    (Sturges 1960)

    Rationale: Remake of Seven Samurai.

    Availability: Amazon.com (R1) or Amazon.co.uk (R2)

    October 1, 2011: Record of a Living Being

    (Kurosawa 1955)

    Availability: see Kurosawa DVDs

    October 15, 2011: Godzilla

    (Honda 1954)

    Rationale: Contemporary and shared theme with Record of a Living Being.

    Availability: Amazon.com (R1) or Amazon.co.uk (R2)

    November 1, 2011: Throne of Blood

    (Kurosawa 1957)

    Availability: see Kurosawa DVDs

    November 15, 2011: Macbeth

    (Welles 1948)

    Rationale: Shared source with Throne of Blood.

    Availability: Amazon.com (region free) or Amazon.co.uk (R2)

    December 1, 2011: The Lower Depths

    (Kurosawa 1957)

    Availability: see Kurosawa DVDs

    December 15, 2011: The Lower Depths

    (Renoir 1936)

    Rationale: Shared source with Kurosawa’s The Lower Depths.

    Availability: Amazon.com (R1)

    January 1, 2012: The Hidden Fortress

    (Kurosawa 1958)

    Availability: see Kurosawa DVDs

    January 15, 2012: Star Wars (A New Hope)

    (Lucas 1977)

    Rationale: Influenced by The Hidden Fortress.

    Availability: Amazon.com (R1) or Amazon.co.uk (R2)

    February 1, 2012: The Bad Sleep Well

    (Kurosawa 1960)

    Availability: see Kurosawa DVDs

    February 15, 2012: When a Woman Ascends the Stairs

    (Naruse 1960)

    Rationale: Contemporary to The Bad Sleep Well.

    Availability: Amazon.com (R1) or Amazon.co.uk (R2)

    March 1, 2012: Yojimbo

    (Kurosawa 1961)

    Availability: see Kurosawa DVDs

    March 15, 2012: A Fistful of Dollars

    (Leone 1964)

    Rationale: Remake of Yojimbo.

    Availability: Amazon.com (R1) or Amazon.co.uk (R2)

    April 1, 2012: Sanjuro

    (Kurosawa 1962)

    Availability: see Kurosawa DVDs

    April 15, 2012: Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo

    (Okamoto 1970)

    Rationale: Shared character with Sanjuro, also starring Mifune.

    Availability: Amazon.com (R1)

    May 1, 2012: High and Low

    (Kurosawa 1963)

    Availability: see Kurosawa DVDs

    May 15, 2012: The Human Condition (trilogy)

    (Kobayashi 1959-1961)

    Rationale: Thematic link with Red Beard.

    Availability: Amazon.com (R1)

    June 1, 2012: Red Beard

    (Kurosawa 1965)

    Availability: see Kurosawa DVDs

    June 15, 2012: The Human Condition (trilogy continued)

    (Kobayashi 1959-1961)

    Rationale: Thematic link with Red Beard.

    Availability: Amazon.com (R1)

    July 1, 2012: Runaway Train

    (Konchalovsky 1985)

    Rationale: Failed late 60s Kurosawa project.

    Availability: Amazon.com (R1) or Amazon.co.uk (R2)

    July 15, 2012: Tora! Tora! Tora!

    (Fleischer-Fukasaku-Masuda 1970)

    Rationale: Failed late 60s Kurosawa project.

    Availability: Amazon.com (R1) or Amazon.co.uk (blu-ray)

    August 1, 2012: Dodesukaden

    (Kurosawa 1970)

    Availability: see Kurosawa DVDs

    August 15, 2012: Dora-heita

    (Ichikawa 2000)

    Rationale: Script co-written by Kurosawa and contemporary with Dodesukaden.

    Availability: Amazon.com (R1)

    September 1, 2012: Dersu Uzala

    (Kurosawa 1975)

    Availability: see Kurosawa DVDs

    September 15, 2012: Princess Mononoke

    (Miyazaki 1997)

    Rationale: Shared themes with Dersu Uzala.

    Availability: Amazon.com (R1) or Amazon.co.uk (R2)

    October 1, 2012: Kagemusha

    (Kurosawa 1980)

    Availability: see Kurosawa DVDs

    October 15, 2012: The Ballad of Narayama

    (Imamura 1983)

    Rationale: Near contemporary with Kagemusha.

    Availability: Amazon.com (R1) or Amazon.co.uk (R2)

    November 1, 2012: Ran

    (Kurosawa 1985)

    Availability: see Kurosawa DVDs

    November 15, 2012: Tampopo

    (Itami 1985)

    Rationale: Contemporary with Ran.

    Availability: Amazon.com (R1)

    December 1, 2012: Dreams

    (Kurosawa 1990)

    Availability: see Kurosawa DVDs

    December 15, 2012: Black Rain

    (Imamura 1989)

    Rationale: Shared theme with Rhapsody in August.

    Availability: Amazon.com (R1)

    January 1, 2013: Rhapsody in August

    (Kurosawa 1991)

    Availability: see Kurosawa DVDs

    January 15, 2013: Grave of the Fireflies

    (Takahata 1988)

    Rationale: Somewhat shared theme with Rhapsody in August.

    Availability: Amazon.com (R1) or Amazon.co.uk (R2)

    February 1, 2013: Madadayo

    (Kurosawa 1993)

    Availability: see Kurosawa DVDs

    February 15, 2013: After the Rain

    (Koizumi 1999)

    Rationale: Posthumously filmed from a Kurosawa script.

    March 1, 2013: The Sea is Watching

    (Kumai 2002)

    Rationale: Posthumously filmed from a Kurosawa script.

    March 15, 2013: The Masque of Black Death

    (????)

    Rationale: Posthumously animated from a Kurosawa script (to be released?).

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    Vili Maunula

    A couple of after-thoughts…

    If no one is interested in the Shimizu films (I have absolutely no idea what they are like), we can watch something else instead — Ford, Capra or Wyler films, for instance, as they were Kurosawa’s early favourites and quite influential on his work.

    Also, do you think that we need two months for The Human Condition? I have never seen the trilogy, but the length (almost 10 hours) makes me think that one slot is not enough for it, so I have allocated two around Red Beard.

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    NoelCT

    I love the list, Vili, and look forward to exploring the peripheral movies, most of which I’ve never seen. One question, with the remakes of YOJIMBO and SEVEN SAMURAI following their originals, shouldn’t the same also be done with RASHOMON/OUTRAGE?

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    lawless

    Looks good. Fistful of Dollars is the one Kurosawa remake that I think is itself a masterpiece and can go toe to toe with the original. I actually like Eastwood’s version of crawling around under the porch better than Mifune’s – it looks more natural. The Magnificent Seven, however, while a good ‘team’ film, is nowhere near as strong a film, nor does it contain the social commentary and emotional resonances of its source, Seven Samurai.

    It probably makes more sense, though, to view the remakes after the Kurosawa films, not before them, though I suspect most of us have already seen Rashomon, for example, and might be able to compare Outrage with it without rewatching Rashomon first.

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    Ugetsu

    Thats a great list Vili, I’m looking forward to it. My only issue is really about the availability of some of the films, some I think will be quite difficult for people to get their hands on.

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    Vili Maunula

    Thanks for the feedback!

    I think the reason why I have Outrage here before Rashomon is that there was at some point something else that was also Rashomon related that followed Rashomon, but since that spot is now taken by the less directly connected Ugetsu monogatari, we can certainly switch those around (Ugetsu before Rashomon, Outrage after it).

    Ugetsu, what specifically do you mean by problems with availability? I think that all of the films that I have picked are available either from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk, and many if not most of them are available in both Region 1 and Region 2 (sorry people down under, I didn’t really know where to look for availability in Region 4, let alone other regions). I know that not everyone can probably get hold of everything, but this was the best I could do. 🙂

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    Vili Maunula

    I can now confirm that the Korean print of 47 Ronin that can be purchased through eBay is fairly ok both in terms of picture quality and English subtitles.

    By the way, the full up-to-date film club schedule can be found over at the film club page.

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