Yojimbo at 60

Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune were twelve films deep in their legendary collaboration when they made Yojimbo, a straightforward samurai movie that somehow became an unqualified masterpiece with a far-reaching influence on Western cinema that continues to this day. The director and actor had put themselves and Japan on the world map of movies in 1951 when they brought Rashomon to the Venice Film Festival. In 1954 — the same year their studio, Toho, released the first Godzilla — they had shown ronin fighting with honor in the seminal Seven Samurai. Hollywood remade that film in 1960 as The Magnificent Seven while Kurosawa and Mifune ushered in the new decade with a film-noir twist on Hamlet called The Bad Sleep Well.

It wasn’t their first Shakespeare adaptation and it isn’t their most famous but its title still lands like a pronouncement of theme in the middle of a filmography where the grotesqueries of human existence are a source of ongoing fascination. Who knew that on the other side of that half-destroyed Rashomon gate, there was a town straight out of a cowboy flick, where the architecture was still Japanese (torii and tile kawara roofs) but where corruption now prospered so wildly that a hero could only meet it with amoral good cheer? On April 25, 1961, Yojimbo strolled in: abandoning all pretense of honor in favor of money, rice, sake, and swordsmanship.

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Jacob Hall’s Favorite Movies of All Time

jacob favorite movies header

Hi, /Film. My name is Jacob Hall and my favorite movies are part of me on a molecular level. Cut me open and the films that have defined my life come spilling out in a great, red heap. So when I was asked to introduce myself to you guys, the community, via a list of my favorite movies of all time, I prepared myself for some gritty, Robert-De-Niro-in-Ronin-style surgery. This list is me being cut open for your amusement.

Read on all about my favorite movies after the jump.

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This is a story I’d just like to ignore, in the hopes that pretending it isn’t happening will decrease the chances of any sale actually going down. But it is already all over the place, so might as well stare it right in the face. A new-ish company called Splendent Media is now repping the remake rights for dozens of Akira Kurosawa films. The company holds sixty-nine titles all told: 26 are films Kurosawa directed; 24 are films he wrote; and 19 are scripts he penned that were never produced.

That last point is somewhat tantalizing in the same way that unproduced Stanley Kubrick screenplays represent a vague sense of possibility. But who am I kidding? If we get… let’s be generous and say two films out of this that don’t suck, I think we’ll be beating the odds. Details below. Read More »

VOTD: ‘Everything Is a Remix’

Thanks to DVD, compression software and services like YouTube and Vimeo, technology has changed the way we ingest visual content. But it hasn’t done as much as I’d like to the way we understand it.

Take the Everything is a Remix project, by editor Kirby Ferguson. The second installment was released this week, and it is a slick, well-written and edited piece of work that points out how much of the entertainment we consume is related to other entertainment. Specifically, it breaks down parts of Star Wars and Kill Bill into component elements, presenting scenes from those films alongside the original images re-purposed by George Lucas and Quentin Tarantino. But I’m left wanting more.

Watch both this film-centric second installment and a sidebar dissection of Kill Bill after the break, then hit the comments for a discussion of how the mechanism of influence from one film to another really affects storytelling. Read More »