Monday, April 04, 2005


Today, the postman delivered unto me a happy red Netflix envelope containing the new Criterion Collection DVD release of "Kagemusha" (Shadow Warrior). I cannot wait to watch it. I saw it once, while I was visiting my sister one Christmas in Colorado. Unfortunately, the VHS tape must have been at least 15 years old, possibly even older, and the quality was very bad, with the bottom 1/3 of the picture all skeezey and I seem to remember some problem with the tracking on her video player. But still, I sat through all THREE HOURS of it (alone) and have been longing for the day that it finally becomes available on DVD. I can't wait to watch it, but it's not going to happen tonight. I have until Saturday to knock out a sashiko pillow for Sensei's going-away gift, so I may not get to watch it until next Sunday! But that will be OK, because the second disc of the set should be here by that time. From what I hear it's just loaded with really cool extras.

Speaking of Kurosawa, I watched his 1991 film, "Rhapsody in August" last week. No swords, fighting or costumes, just some modern-day kids whiling away the summer with their bomb-survivor gradmother in the hills outside Nagasaki. I half expected to be bored with this one, since I've been on such a jidai geki (period film) kick lately, but this one was really quite touching. I remember watching some extra on the "Ikuru" DVD where the lady that played the grandmother described how gruff and demanding Kurosawa was with her during the filming of "Rhapsody", but apparently it paid off because her performance was fantastic. I didn't doubt for a moment she really was an ancient old lady who lost her husband to the bomb, lo those many years ago. The tone of the film was tender and, some may say, maudlin, but it wasn't at all blamey or strident in how it dealt with the whole "being defeated" topic. And it was amusing to watch Richard Gere (yes, that Richard Gere) as the Japanese/American cousin, try to "act natural" with the delivery of his Japanese dialogue. It was apparent he didn't have the first clue what he was actually saying, though he got the intonation right. He would smile during scenes that didn't really call for it, as if he were a little self-conscious, but I don't want to get too picky. Those little bits were the only half-false notes in the whole movie. That and the shot of the full moon over the hills looked a little fakey. This one is worth watching and has a definite slot in the permanent collection.


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