Thursday, July 15, 2010

Taking a break (and he's outta here!)

Well as you can tell, I am not able keep up with my usual deadline these days. While it is in bad taste blame someone… I just have too much on my plate, I’m writing different papers for a summer class and I’m moving to a new house. So I have decided to take a break from writing until I finish moving and unpacking. I will still be watching movies as usual, it’s not like I have a girlfriend or anything. Anyway, I want to give you a list of movies that all of (six of) you might find interesting.

Listed by decade

1920 (silent era)

Sherlock Jr. (comedy, if you don’t like this then skip to the 30’s)

Nosferatu (horror)

Metropolis (sci-fi)


M (German thriller)

King Kong (you know what this is)

A Night at the Opera (Marx Bros. comedy, they’re not Communists)

Angels with Dirty Faces (Christian film… with booze and guns)

The Thin Man (Murder mystery… even more booze)


Double Indemnity (Film Noir, according to Wikipedia… it’s a thriller)

White Heat (Gangster flick)

Casablanca (a man’s movie)

Notorious (Hitchcock)

Pinocchio (for something more optimistic)


Seven Samurai (Akira’s best)

Rear Window (Hitchcock 2)

Strangers on a Train (Hitchcock 3: Return of the Hitchcock)

Diabolique (French mystery, it even made Hitchcock nervous)

Singin’ in The Rain (Musical!!)

Rio Bravo (Western)


Once Upon a time in The West (Western… oo wee oo wee oo)

Cool Hand Luke (Paul Newman’s finest)

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (aka Paul Newman and the Moustache)

8½ (a sequel to 7¾)

Black Sunday (Vampires when they weren’t whiney b*tchs )

2001: A Space Odyssey (LSD is optional)


The French Connection (It’s a lot grittier than it sounds)

Texas Chainsaw Massacre (dumb characters, bad script, cheap sets, good stuff)

Chinatown (They cut Jack Nicholson’s nose, ‘nuff’ said.)

Young Frankenstein (pronounced Fronc-un-steen)

A Clockwork Orange (the classic WTF movie)


Raging Bull (Rocky for smart people)

The Untouchables (the last Kevin Costner film that was actually good)

The Thing (This is why I’m not going to Antarctica)

Akira (it’s not a Kurosawa biopic)

90’s (all animated, cuz this decade was depressing)

Toy Story (Cuz Pixar made it)

Beauty and the Beast (the peak in Disney’s comeback)

Princess Mononoke (if Disney was Japanese and cool)

Iron Giant (there’s a giant robot, its cool)

200X (I guess that’s what they call it)

Spirited Away (More Japanese Disney!)

WALL-E (Try not to cry)

Pan’s Labyrinth (not related to “Labyrinth” so don’t complain that David Bowie is not in it)

V For Vendetta (the best Wachowski Bros. movie that doesn’t have Keanu Reeves in it)

I’ll be back.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Akira and the Space Cowboys (I couldn't think of a better title)

Here are two things you should know about Akira Kurosawa. 1. His name is the third most difficult male name to spell and pronounce in the world (losing to Yngwie J. Malmsteem and Sergei Eisentein respectively) 2. He is the best director to ever come out of Japan and probably the world. Every serious filmmaker from Martin Scorsese to Francis Ford Coppola have been influenced by Kurosawa’s work, Steven Spielberg (according to Wikipedia) called him “The pictorial Shakespeare of our time.” Among the people who are under Kurosawa’s influence is George Lucas. George (for the mole-people who live under ground) is famous and infamous for creating the “Star Wars” franchise including its vile prequels and Christmas specials.

And F***ing Ewok cartoons

George Lucas is and I mean it with the highest respect for him, a nerd for westerns and samurai films, especially films by John Ford and Akira Kurosawa. The old west influence in “Star Wars” is fairly obvious since the landscape of the desert planet Tatooine was inspired by John Ford’s regular use of Monument Valley as the film set. Han Solo is the product of taking Clint Eastwood’s “Man with No Name” and giving him the cranky wit of John Wayne. Then are the blasters, and that saloon… where was I going this? Anyway, Akira Kurosawa influence on “Star Wars” is shown through one of his films in particular, “The Hidden Fortress”

The plot is rather basic, there are three nations, one good, one evil and one is neutral. The good nation’s princess is in hiding and needs to go to the neutral nation in order to be safe. She is smuggled through enemy territory with the help of her badass bodyguard, a shy slave girl and two unlucky shmucks. While the plot is not identical to “Star Wars” there are quite a few element that were borrowed by Lucas. While the main characters are bodyguard and the princess, the story is told through the two schmucks’ points of view, just like C-3P0 and R2-D2. There is a spear fight that resembles light saber battles not because of elaborate choreography but for how long it takes for the first strike to occur. Both the spear fight and the Vader vs Kenobi battle have a psychological tension to them that brews when the opposing are on guard and just stand there, waiting for someone to crack. Finally there is the relationship with the princess between and the bodyguard, and the use of frame wipes… now I’m starting to sound like a conspiracy theorist.

There is a fear that in for something to be original that everything as your own idea otherwise it is plagiarism, but that is not true. Of course George Lucas is not trying to be being imitative, he simply liked “The Hidden Fortress” and when he was making “Star Wars” he used borrowed ideas from the other to create unique product, that’s how inspiration works. In fact, as great as Kurosawa is, he would be a lesser director if he did not worship the director John Ford (he even wore dark glasses to emulate John). See? There is no point in arguing if any filmmaker, like Lucas, is a hack if there own influences had their own influences, otherwise every film is just a shitty rip-off of Edison’s first recordings.

Happy 4th of July weekend