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News roundup: Fast & Furious, Red Dead Redemption and Yasujiro Ozu

News from Scandal
Now, there’s a trio (in the title) that I never expected to see mentioned together, but such is the inclusive nature of an Akira Kurosawa related news roundup. Today’s update also includes a couple of Kurosawa podcasts, articles, a popularity contest, pedagogical materials and of the course latest from The Magnificent Seven production that is gearing up for production.

Let’s kick off with some podcasts. Firstly, we have BBC Radio 3 spending 45 minutes exploring Seven Samurai. Journalist Matthew Sweet discusses the film with Professor Ian Christie, critic Larushka Ivan Zadeh, writer SF Said and Japanese film expert Dr Alexander Jacoby.

Meanwhile, over at CriterionCast, showrunner Scott Nye is joined by David Blakeslee, Sean Hutchinson and Trevor Berrett to discuss Rashomon.

The former film is also celebrated in a Times of Malta article titled Why Seven Samurai remains relevant.

In another article Thomas Pynn writes about his experiences working with undergraduate students in analysing the films of Akira Kurosawa and Hayao Miyazaki. Unfortunately, his essay titled Introducing Students to the Cinematic Art of Akira Kurosawa and Hayao Miyazaki is only available for visitors registered to the Journal of Global Initiatives.

In a Kurosawa news roundup posted a few weeks ago, I linked to a poll that the Yomiuri Shinbun had run to find out who its Japanese readers perceive as the most internationally successful Japanese individuals. Kurosawa placed third. Now Wall Street Journal’s Japan Real Time in turn reports about a study which was conducted by the Japan Press Research Institute and surveyed six thousand people to find out who people outside of Japan think are the internationally best known Japanese individuals. While Emperor Hirohito topped the list around the world, at least in France Kurosawa made it to the top three, together with Hayao Miyazaki.

In video game news, rumours are floating that a sequel to the 2010 wild west epic Red Dead Redemption is coming in late 2016 and that it will be set in Japan and revolve around a character called Yojimbo. The rumours appear to be originating from crossmap.com and don’t seem to be covered by the mainstream gaming press. While a sequel is most probably in the works, I would at this point take the plot related details with a grain of salt.

Furious 7 is the latest in the racing action film series Fast and Furious. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, the film’s director James Wan notes that the title is a reference to Seven Samurai, which he used as an inspiration for the film. “Instead of horses and steeds, it’s their muscle cars. Instead of swords, it’s guns. The classic story of vengeance and family and blood oath—that plays into classic Kurosawa!”

In this week’s Magnificent Seven related news, Variety reports that Vincent D’Onofrio is in talks to play the main villain, and that production should start in a month or so.

Moving onto somewhat less directly related news, video essayist Anna Catley has posted a ten-minute video which explores and exhibits some of the visual, thematic, and narrative parallels that exist between the works of the American director Wes Anderson and those of Yasujiro Ozu.

Finally, Rope of Silicon reports that Satyajit Ray‘s The Apu Trilogy has been restored and will receive a limited theatre release in the US in May. And as Criterion was one of the companies working on the new transfer, we should be able to expect a Criterion release of the film fairly soon. Kurosawa famously declared that “not to have seen the cinema of Ray means existing in the world without seeing the sun or the moon”.


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