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Not to brag but…

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    Amnesty11

    I just learned that the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is showing Stray Dogs on Saturday Night in the Bing Theater (where I once spent a week watching a Laurence Olivier Film Festival) and High and Low on June 9th. Lucky me, the real deal – no Blue Ray/compressed/uncompressed/manual adjustments/24pf etc. to worry about. Just me and Toshiro and Co. (and about 200 other unimportant people sitting all around me!)

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    Longstone

    Excellent , I guess that’s the advantage of living in or near a large city .

    There is only one cinema in our town and to my knowledge they have only screened one Japanese film that I can remember and that was the recent 13 Assassins remake.

    There are two arts centres in nearby towns that have small one screen cinemas but even then I have only managed to see Norwegian Wood and Twilight Samurai in the last 10 years.

    The local art college and a very small local art centre will sometimes have small screenings and their Japanese film hit rate is much better but they are projecting from DVD, it’s still nice to see the films in an almost cinematic setting . Unless I travel to London I have very little chance of seeing a real 35 mm print of any Japanese film.

    That’s why I’m extremely grateful for the large amount of films that have appeared on DVD or Blu-ray in recent years , it’s not that long ago it would have been unimaginable to be able to own a complete set of Kurosawa films with decent English subtitles and good picture quality.

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    cocoskyavitch

    Yeah, we get screenings here, too, and the University of Michigan sponsors a Japanese Film Series that also introduces new Japanese films and does thematic explorations as well. For the 100th anniversary they did a nice series of Kurosawa films. Talk about beauty!!!! Big screen silver immerses you in a moonlight world…my gosh, what a sensual immersion! Have fun, Amnesty!

    Longstone, dude…right back atcha with the gratefulness for Blu-Ray! I have some disgusting Bo-Ying vids of Kurosawa’s work…from the bad old days!

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    Amnesty11

    Pathetically, since I live on the coast and the screening is Mid Wilshire, even though it’s about 14 miles as the crow flies, it will take me about as long to get to the movie theater in Saturday night traffic as it might take you to drive to London Longstone! But worth every inch of stop and go to be “immersed in a moonlight world” (beautiful Coco!)…

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    Vili Maunula

    Do let us know how the audience reacted to Stray Dog, Amnesty! (And later to High and Low.) And even more importantly, what your own reaction was to the big screen experience. 🙂

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    Amnesty11

    Well, first off, it was an odd evening. I don’t know why, but living in LA, I really expected the audience to be half Asian. It wasn’t at all. It was more like the demographic of the American National Public Radio listeners…intellectual, silver haired, Downton Abbey loving “filmies.” I am luckily not silver haired yet, but I guess I am a younger version of that (maybe my taste runs more to Mad Men than Downton). Anyway, the Bing Theater is not a truly professional cinema, especially sound wise. It’s an old theater in the Los Angeles County Museum that is there for revivals. A big auditorium and a smallish (by todays’ standards) screen with a just so so sound system. At first I thought, “Well – this isn’t going to be that great.”

    But…once the lights came down and once we got past that over-long shot of the panting “stray” (one suspects) dog, all was well. There He was (you know who I’m talking about) all decked out with those high-belted, flowing trousers and white suit coat – natty as the day is long! Gorgeous! (So sorry everyone, I just can’t help mentioning that..) My friend who has never seen one of the older Kurosawa movies whispered about Mifune — “I thought he was born old! But look at him!”

    Anyway, the movie clipped along, the audience totally in the moment. The penultimate scene where Mifune-sama and his doppleganger are scrabbling at each other in the high grasses, grabbed the audience completely. I felt like we were all breathing together in sync.

    At the end of the movie the whole audience applauded for a very long time. A very appreciative audience indeed. God how I wish they had a long Kurosawa retrospective somewhere in the city. Like a year long, where one wouldn’t have to go every night (in order to digest what one saw, instead of night after night like some festivals) and a film a week, or some such. Because it’s true that even though we now can watch these films on fairly big televisions if we have them, they still are meant to be viewed large – larger than life, and when they are his films truly penetrate.

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    cocoskyavitch

    Great descriptions, Amnesty!

    And the Mifune-love thang? Ohhhh yeah. Cannot deny the love.

    Having come to know Mifune first, like lawless, from Seven Samurai, I had the opposite reaction to your friend, and found the aging process -so painful! So, so painful! And later discoveries like Stray Dog…hubba hubba.

    But, dude, seeing it on the silver screen…what a treat, right?

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    Vili Maunula

    Thanks for the report, Amnesty! I’m glad to hear that the audience, including you of course, enjoyed the film.

    My personal experiences with screenings of Stray Dog have been that there is one point in the film — the Tokyo city montage — where some people may get bored and even leave. But it depends on the audience. Personally, I think that it is one of the best parts of the film. 🙂

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    Amnesty11

    Vili, I guess my audience was enthralled. In fact, the Tokyo montage part this time seemed to go so quickly! I have a theater background and I find that my enjoyment of a film (unless I am home alone with my television) has much to do with the energy of the “fourth wall.” I hate it when I watch a film in a movie theater and there are either a.) two other people and myself or b.) an audience full of people who don’t get it. I can barely manage to transcend either scenario and usually can’t get into the movie in the same way I would if there were a full house of at least half-way participant movie goers. And by participant I don’t mean people who talk back to the screen (God forbid!) but that intangible energy of people who are really “in it.”

    During Stray Dog, there was a feeling in the room that we were all in a heightened state of observation — even my friend who is Not a Japanese Film lover by any means…was equally as into it as I felt myself and the rest of the audience to be. It really cast a spell…

    Coco –

    Having come to know Mifune first, like lawless, from Seven Samurai, I had the opposite reaction to your friend, and found the aging process -so painful! So, so painful! And later discoveries like Stray Dog…hubba hubba.

    I came upon Mifune in Rashomon – one would think I could never view him in ANY other film again! But for some reason I have it for him no matter his age. (Even dead, apparently.) He was adorably old in Picture Bride, even paunch bellied, balding and ancient. I don’t know. I guess I can see his greatness through the ravages of time, alcohol and cigarettes! And yeah, Kurosawa on the big(ish) silver screen is the bomb! Can’t wait for High and Low in a few weeks! (The shower scene!!)

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    cocoskyavitch

    Ahhhhhhhhhh! Shower scene! how many times have I had to rewind and slomo??? HAHAHA! Ah, it’s a good think you are in this group (which I almost spelled “grope”).

    Though, 😉 I promise, gents, to ease up a bit.

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    lawless

    *pokes her head in* There’s a shower scene in High and Low? I thought Mifune fishing in a loincloth and running around the village half bare-chested in what amounts to a thong in Seven Samurai was as good as it got.

    I just watched Seven Samurai for the umpteenth time as a treat for my birthday (and thought about all the discussion topics I want to start when we get to that movie), and I noticed that while Mifune is muscular and in great physical shape, he neither looks like a bodybuilder nor has six-pack abs. He’s more of the physical ideal I’d rather see than the overly buff, beefed up men common to Hollywood films these days.

    And despite how that makes me sound, I care more about an actor’s looks (that his, his face) than what kind of shape he is in anyway. And how well he can act more than that, but we’re talking about stars with looks and charisma here.

    Also, for some reason, unlike everyone else, it doesn’t much matter to me where I see a Kurosawa movie. The only exception I can think of is Ran, which between the epic scope and the use of color would be far more impressive onscreen than on a TV. (I’ve only ever seen it in a theatre.)

    But I’ve seen Seven Samurai andThe Hidden Fortress both ways, and I probably prefer watching them at home. There may be a little of the ‘fourth wall’ syndrome going there — for one thing, I knew the answers to audience questions about The Hidden Fortress better than the man who was there to introduce the movie (he didn’t realize it was set in the Sengoku period or when that was) — but a lot of it is the additional freedom I have to rewind, stop the movie, and watch it at my leisure.

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    Amnesty11

    There’s a lot to be said for both ways of viewing. Lawless, I too love having the luxury of rewinding, especially since I sometimes catch a bit of Japanese that I understand (a rarity to be sure, but it does happen). And to be stretched out and comfortable, yes. And to not have anyone else’s energy invade mine…but when there is a room full of appreciative people there is nothing like that, it trumps home alone with TV every time. Because that’s how the director wants us to view his/her films after all.

    Lawless –

    And despite how that makes me sound, I care more about an actor’s looks (that his, his face) than what kind of shape he is in anyway. And how well he can act more than that, but we’re talking about stars with looks and charisma here.

    I am attracted to intelligence in actors, no matter the looks. Good looks are frosting of course. You won’t believe it, but my very first crush in grade school was on Peter Falk in Colombo! That will probably tell you a lot about me… 😎 Mifune is such an intelligent actor, I can’t resist!

    Coco- I’ve finally found my peeps…I’m glad to be part of the grope! 😉

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    cocoskyavitch

    Hmmm.

    Intelligence…of what sort? People can be social nitwits, interpersonal morons, bad at math, poor at performing sums…I don’t know anymore if I can just say “intelligence” and let it go at that. I spend my days at a university with a ton of intelligent bores…and yes, some stellar, wonderful brilliant people.

    Here’s what is attractive to me in Mifune:

    1. Beautiful and expressive eyes that suggest a sensitive awareness of others and their emotional lives.

    2. Beautiful, elegant hands attached to strong, healthy arms, and a proportional body with a very powerful upper torso and strong, well-developed legs. Hey, just saying….he was given some gifts.

    3. Dynamic, responsive personality. (for the most part when young) He seems incredibly present-not stuffed down inside himself, but alive and alert.

    (As he ages he loses some of this-becomes embalmed (pickled?) in his roles and a crust has formed over the quick, sensitive parts. The Ossification of Authority replaces the mercurial change of youth. Still love him-but have to really look inside to see it.)

    Yeah. I totally get Peter Falk. Ever see “Wings of Desire”?

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    Amnesty11

    Coco – Good Lord Woman! Wings of Desire is in my top 5! How did you know?

    Well, I’ve been spending some time these past few days, after reading your post about the elusive alchemy that makes someone like Toshiro Mifune desirable. And of course there are others besides Toshiro but for the sake of our little family here, let’s stick with him. You’re right, just because a man is intelligent doesn’t make me want him. And just because a man is handsome, doesn’t make me want him either. And often just because a man is handsome and intelligent doesn’t make me want him any more at all. So what is it?

    For Mifune-sama you’ve listed it perfectly.

    1.Yes, the beautiful and expressive eyes. There is a scene in Stray Dog that I had overlooked the last time I saw it, where Shimura and his wife call Mifune over to look at their beautiful sleeping children. The parents look on so proud and in love with their family which is charming. But Mifune takes this moment in and drinks it as if it were a healing elixir to his soul. The way he watches the couple watching their children…stunning.

    Colin Firth and Liam Neeson (when given the right role – like when he played in Ethan Frome) have this ability too. When I said “intelligence” I guess I should have said “emotional intelligence.” I find it quite rare and quite attractive.

    2.

    Beautiful, elegant hands attached to strong, healthy arms, and a proportional body with a very powerful upper torso and strong, well-developed legs. Hey, just saying….he was given some gifts.

    Couldn’t have put it better myself. And like Lawless said earlier, it’s not that he’s cut, super sculpted etc. He’s just damn perfect and forte!

    3. Dynamic, responsive. Yes – another Stray Dog moment that gets me ever time is the moment when the thief/killer and he are in the grass breathing so hard they seem like they might die. Then the thief begins to weep. Mifune sits very sharply up and stares at him, his back to us, his energy pouring forward away from the camera and viewer – and on to the crying man. That forward energy might as well have been bright white light emanating from his chest down to the desperate man. That dynamism is seen again and again, always, in every film he’s in. There’s one scene in High and Low that kills me in that way, one of the most amazing moments in film history in my opinion, but I’ll save that for November’s discussion!

    Ahh. There’s one more thing that I can’t resist. There’s that element of Mifune that is so secretive, for all his emotionally brilliant and sometimes openhearted acting; something we can never touch that’s inside of him and not for anyone else at all. We can’t “know” him, we can’t “have” that part of him. It’s that keeping himself a mystery that makes him absolutely irresistible to me.

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    cocoskyavitch

    Ok, for the sake of the gentlemen in the “room”, I won’t go into much detail but, dang-you summed it up brilliantly.

    ..”There’s one more thing that I can’t resist. There’s that element of Mifune that is so secretive, for all his emotionally brilliant and sometimes openhearted acting; something we can never touch that’s inside of him and not for anyone else at all. We can’t “know” him, we can’t “have” that part of him. It’s that keeping himself a mystery that makes him absolutely irresistible to me. “

    You said it, Amnesty!!!!

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