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Vote for the 2009 Film Club Schedule!

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    Vili Maunula

    November 4 will mark the beginning of a brand new era, an era that will have tremendous influence on the everyday lives of each and every one of us. Fortunately, what the direction of that era will take is something that you will have the chance to help decide.

    What I am talking about, of course, is the vote for the 2009 schedule of the Akira Kurosawa Online Film Club! Just like we picked the 2008 schedule with a democratic vote (the results of which I then tyrannically interpreted as I saw most fit), the 2009 schedule will be decided in a manner very similar.

    Basically, listed at the end of this post are those Kurosawa movies that were not included in the 2008 edition of the Film Club. What I need you to do is set those films in an order of preference — put the one you’d most like to discuss first, the second favourite right under it, third favourite third, and so on. Post your list in this thread, and you are done. Couldn’t be simpler, really.

    I’ll give you a little over a month to think over the matter and make your decision. How you come to this decision is completely up to you. If you so wish, you are also very welcome to debate the various possibilities in this thread. Come November 4 (or some days after), and I’ll go through all the votes and put together a schedule that will be composed of the 12 most preferred films.

    While I will decide on the order of the movies when I see which films get picked, you are of course most welcome to give suggestions when or in what order you would like to watch a particular movie or movies. I will obviously not be able to fulfil everyone’s wishes, but I’ll do my best.

    Oh yes, and as you can see it’s still just movies by Kurosawa. As much as many of us would probably love to discuss films by Ozu, Mizoguchi, Bergman and many other directors, our focus will still remain with Kurosawa for now. Once we get through his oeuvre, which should be sometime in 2010, we can start considering other films.

    So, to recap: by November 4 2008, I need you to go through the list of movies below and put them in an order of preference. Post your list in this thread and you are done. You can vote as many times as you want, but only your last list will be taken into account.

    Here’s the list of movies:

    Sanshiro Sugata (1943)

    The Most Beautiful (1944)

    Sanshiro Sugata Part II (1945)

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

    No Regrets for Our Youth (1946)

    One Wonderful Sunday (1947)

    The Quiet Duel (1949)

    Scandal (1950)

    The Idiot (1951)

    Seven Samurai (1954)

    Record of a Living Being, aka I Live in Fear (1955)

    Throne of Blood (1957)

    The Lower Depths (1957)

    The Hidden Fortress (1958)

    The Bad Sleep Well (1960)

    Sanjuro (1962)

    Dodesukaden (1970)

    Dersu Uzala (1975)

    Kagemusha (1980)

    Ran (1985)

    Dreams (1990)

    Rhapsody in August (1991)

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    Jon Hooper

    I’m too busy these days to make any real contributions to the film club, but my vote, for what it’s worth, is for, in order of preference:

    Throne of Blood (1957)

    Seven Samurai (1954)

    Kagemusha (1980)

    The Hidden Fortress (1958)

    Ran (1985)

    Record of a Living Being, aka I Live in Fear (1955)

    The Idiot (1951)

    The Lower Depths (1957)

    Sanjuro (1962)

    The Bad Sleep Well (1960)

    Sanshiro Sugata (1943)

    The Quiet Duel (1949)

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    Vili Maunula

    We will definitely miss your insights Jon, but obviously real life commitments have to have priority.

    As for the vote list, I was actually thinking that you could put all films into an order, not just 12. 🙂

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    Ugetsu

    In order of preferance:

    Seven Samurai (1954) (discussing SS would be a great post Xmas treat)

    Dersu Uzala (1975)

    The Idiot (1951)

    Record of a Living Being, aka I Live in Fear (1955)

    Throne of Blood (1957)

    The Hidden Fortress (1958)

    The Bad Sleep Well (1960)

    The Quiet Duel (1949)

    Sanjuro (1962)

    Dodesukaden (1970)

    Kagemusha (1980)

    Ran (1985)

    Scandal (1950)

    Sanshiro Sugata (1943)

    The Most Beautiful (1944)

    Sanshiro Sugata Part II (1945)

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

    No Regrets for Our Youth (1946)

    The Lower Depths (1957)

    One Wonderful Sunday (1947)

    Dreams (1990)

    Rhapsody in August (1991)

    I’ve placed the last 9 there because they are ones that I’m not sure i can get a copy of – on a purely selfish basis I’ve listed as priority the ones that either i own already or are available in my local dvd rental shop.

    Just to cast the idea out there – what do you think about maybe adding non-Kurosawa movies in occasionally as a ‘pairing’ with one of the movies, maybe to open it out a little? Maybe a bit of a compare and contrast job with some contemporary movies. For example, ’24 Eyes’ was rated as a more popular movie in Japan in 1954 than Seven Samurai. This could lead to all sorts of interesting little side discussions. I’d love, for example, to discuss how different directors used Setsuko Hara in her various movies.

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    Vili Maunula

    Ugetsu: I’ve placed the last 9 there because they are ones that I’m not sure i can get a copy of – on a purely selfish basis I’ve listed as priority the ones that either i own already or are available in my local dvd rental shop.

    That is actually one of the best reasons you could have for your list. And it is anything but selfish — we would hate to not have you take part in a discussion because you couldn’t watch the movie!

    Ugetsu: Just to cast the idea out there – what do you think about maybe adding non-Kurosawa movies in occasionally as a ‘pairing’ with one of the movies, maybe to open it out a little?

    I would certainly be interested in this. Instead of voting for these (I don’t know how we could even begin to), do you think that it would work if anyone who wishes to carry out this kind of compare/contrast work would let the rest of us know well in advance? That way, those of us who would like to participate could find the film as well, or alternatively let the person know that they cannot take part (can’t find the film, don’t have the time, etc.).

    I did a bit of comparison/contrast work with Yojimbo, A Fistful of Dollars, Last Man Standing and Django this summer. Looking back, it would probably have made more sense to announce my project in advance so that those with interest could have jumped into the discussion with more ammunition. But to my defence, I must say that I wasn’t really planning it — all I wanted to do was watch A Fistful of Dollars, and one thing just sort of led to another…

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    cocoskyavitch

    Hey, Vili, I echo Ugetsu‘s choice for a post-holiday treat. What a great idea! :

    1.Seven Samurai (1954) (discussing SS would be a great post Xmas treat)

    2. Dersu Uzala (1975)

    3. The Idiot (1951)

    then, maybe

    4. Kagemusha (1980)

    5. Throne of Blood (1957)

    6. The Lower Depths (1957) ( I am absolutely crazy about this film. I wonder if there’s some way to get Ugetsu a copy?)

    7. The Hidden Fortress (1958)

    8. Ran (1985)

    9. Sanjuro (1962)

    10. The Quiet Duel (1949)

    11. Scandal (1950)

    12. The Bad Sleep Well (1960)

    But, having said that, I’m good with anything. This is just a “vibe” of how it could be interesting to view.

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    Ugetsu

    I am absolutely crazy about this film. I wonder if there’s some way to get Ugetsu a copy?)

    Thanks for the thought. As I’m thoroughly disenchanted with the BFI versions of the movies, I’ll probably invest in a multi-region player sometime in the new year (waiting for the sales!), so hopefully I’ll then be able to get my hands on anything thats available. I’m really looking forward to being able to watch the Criterion versions, they seem (from what I’ve read) to be a much higher quality than anything available in Region 2.

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    Jon Hooper

    Ugetsu, have you checked whether your Region 2 player can play discs from other regions? It is often just a matter of inputing a code. Strictly speaking one shouldn’t do it, I suppose, but it’s not as if it means actually changing anything internally. I have a Region 2 player and to override the region coding I just had to type in a numerical code on the remote. Only once and that’s it. There are sites that specialize in this sort of thing. Of course, you might be opposed to cheating on region codes and if so I respect that. But those Criterion discs are awfully tempting.

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    Vili Maunula

    Indeed. Ugetsu, have you checked http://www.videohelp.com/dvdhacks? All the players that I have owned I have been able to region hack with a simple model specific code from this website. In my current Philips it involves pushing four buttons on the remote plus the region number that I want to switch to (I just switched it once to “all regions” and haven’t touched it since).

    In most cases it won’t void your warranty, and I don’t think that it is actually illegal either, as long as you are not doing it for commercial purposes.

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    Ugetsu

    Thanks for the link, Vili. I was actually talking about this to the tech guys in my local Sony Centre (thinking of investing in a blu ray multimedia thingy). They were kinda vague, suggested I just get a multi-region recorder instead, they aren’t expensive (in fact they said they’d throw one in for free if I bought a full multimedia set-up).

    Actually, I guess I’m giving away my philistinism here but I currently just use my laptop for viewing (I don’t even own a TV 😳 ). I haven’t bothered trying to change the coding on the laptop as I have been intending to buy a new system for the last 2 years, I just haven’t gotten around to it….

    Of course, you might be opposed to cheating on region codes and if so I respect that.

    I’ve no problem with cheating media companies! In fact, I find it an outrage that in a supposedly free market they could get away with doing that.

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    Vili Maunula

    There are some programs with which to go around the region code settings on a laptop drive, but for example the drive that I have on my Fujitsu-Siemens Amilo A7640 doesn’t want to cooperate.

    Just in case you are interested (and it may be more work than it is worth), DVD Region Killer sometimes works for me, but not every time. I have heard of some people having success with DVD Region-Free, but that’s a commercial program. You can also do a search at the rpc1.org forums for a new firmware for your drive, although I’m not sure how that works since I have never been able to find anything on that site (I have no idea where to look). And I think that flashing your drive’s firmware will void the warranty.

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    cocoskyavitch

    Ugetsu, just buy a tv and region 1 player and be done with it. TVs are coming down in cost, and the larger the screen, the better the viewing experience for films, at least in my experience. I’m waiting for the holiday sales to be able to retire my old-fashioned analog monster tv that takes up too much space and energy.

    I’m a little concerned about you purchasing a blu-ray player, but I don’t know, it might be quite wise and worthwhile. In the most recent issue of Business Week they note that sales have been very soft. On the other hand, assuming the technology won’t go away real soon, they indicated that the costs would be slashed for this holiday season. Stateside we’re supposed to see the average unit slashed from $450 USD to about $150 (again, according ot Business Week).

    I dunno, I’m going to hold tight to my old-fashioned DVDs for a while, and upgrade the tv to a 40″ flat screen-it will be a treat to see my favorite films in a new format.

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    Ugetsu

    Thanks for all the advice – current system suits me, but I’ll keep looking out to see whats best, and hopefully buy when the January sales hit. I’m tempted by blu ray simply cos the screens seem amazingly good, especially the smaller ones. My problem is that every time I make my mind up, I read somewhere about an even better one about to be released next year! (actually, thats not a problem, I save loads of money by postponing purchases by telling myself I’ll buy an even better one next year).

    I just read about this great little gizmo today. Imagine – being able to watch your favourite movies projected on your tent while camping in a remote mountainside!

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    cocoskyavitch

    Wow. I have an upcoming summer study abroad program “Film and Italian Culture” and it would be cool to have that little pocket projector!

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    Vili Maunula

    That gadget looks quite neat, indeed. I don’t remember though when I last went camping. 😆

    That “Film and Italian Culture” program looks neat, too. It is both funny and scary how they mention that if the dollar weakens further, you may need to pay extra. I doubt it will happen though, considering the way the Euro is weakening now. And I must say that the fee announced is pretty low anyway — just a thousand dollars for a week in Rome? Film, pizzas and museums… damn, maybe I should go back to the University!

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    cocoskyavitch

    I wish I could know if the projector were actually available, and at what price point: http://www.optoma.co.uk/PicoIntro.aspx

    Vili, the catch-22 of university life is that our students really don’t have an extra bit of cash for study abroad, since they’ve got to pay the rising costs of tuition. We do think we keep the costs very low, but for students it seems out of reach! 😥

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    Vili Maunula

    Indeed, tuition in the US is not exactly cheap. I noticed this a couple of years ago as I was planning to enrol for a PhD in the US (the brand of theoretical linguistics that I work(ed) in is not really all that well represented in Europe).

    Of course, I never really looked beyond places like Stanford, Rutgers and UCLA either, so probably the fees that I saw were even higher than the average. Still cheaper than in the UK, though! (But more expensive than in Finland, where it’s free.)

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    Vili Maunula

    I have now finally put together your votes and come up with the 2009 schedule, which you can see here.

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