Samurai and lovers: movies viewed

SANJURO (1962) is Akira Kurosawa’s riff on his previous film Yojimbo. Once again, Toshiro Mifune plays a ronin who stumbles into a power struggles, in this case between the wise leader of the local samurai clan and scheming underlings plotting to take over. This time, though, the disgruntled, constantly crabbing Sanjuro sides with the good guys on the principle that the idealistic samurai supporting their lord will get themselves killed otherwise. A good film, with a great performance by Mifune, who steals every scene he’s in.“I dislike saying this after you so kindly rescued us, but killing is a bad habit.”

Despite some admiring reviews BLUE VALENTINE (2014) was too much an aimless slice of life to work for me — as Leonard Maltin put it, the scenes are good, but the film is less than the sum of its parts. Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams as a dysfunctional couple who married in starry-eyed haste and in the present are repenting at leisure; both leads give great performances but that didn’t keep me watching. “In your dream where I’m doing what I really like, what would that be?”

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2 responses to “Samurai and lovers: movies viewed

  1. Zosimus the Heathen

    I must confess that I’ve not seen many samurai movies myself – probably the only film I’ve seen (that I can think of off the top of my head anyway) that maybe, kinda falls into that category is the ultraviolent “Shogun Assassin” (and I’d have to say that I did enjoy that one a lot). From the sounds of them, I gather they’re sort of the Japanese equivalent of the Western – would that be an accurate assessment?

    I’ve not seen “Blue Valentine” myself, and have to admit I was sort of turned off it after some notorious “red pill” blogger praised it highly, claiming it supported all the odious “biotruths” he held as gospel. Whether it really does or not, it also just sounded a little too depressing for me, so that’s probably another reason I’ve given it a miss so far.

  2. Samurai movies have a lot in common with Westerns. Kurosawa’s Yojimbo, Rashomon and Seven Samurai have all been remade as Westerns (Hidden Fortress was a big influence on Star Wars IV). Most of the ones I’ve seen are Kurosawa’s — he’s just a fantastic filmmaker.
    Blue Valentine is definitely on the depressing side — the couple’s relationship is clearly taking a long walk on a short pier, even though they don’t see it.

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