Author Topic: Not Quite Seven Samurai Movies  (Read 342 times)

DarkeningHumour

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Not Quite Seven Samurai Movies
« on: April 14, 2017, 04:55:58 AM »
I have finally gotten my hands on Hara-Kiri for my dictation of shame and I have compiled a small list of other samurai movies to go along with it. It goes back to a discussion we had some weeks ago about this topic and a Top 5 Samurai Movies 1SO made that provided some inspiration. There is also a previous marathon from our resident kiddest of olds (or is it oldest of kids?) from a few years ago which I stumbled upon. This is a personal marathon but anyone is welcome, nay, invited to join. I think we could all use more samurais in our lives. I don't know when I will start, in all likelihood in the coming days, and I certainly have no idea how long it will take me to finish. 

My watchlist:

Hara-Kiri
Samurai Rebellion
Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai
The Hidden fortress
Sansho the Bailiff
The 47 Ronin
13 Assassins


The second Kobayashi is from 1SO's Essentials and I've been meaning to get to the author too. I am watching Ghost Dog so pixote will stop telling me to and so I can lay Jarmusch to rest - or not, we'll see. There is one Kurosawa which I believe is the last of his samurai movies I have not watched. I might also take the opportunity to rewatch Ran. The Mizoguchi are there because there is a retrospective going on that is the perfect excuse to get to them. 13 Assassins is the most recent samurai movie I could find so it constitutes my contemporary movie entry. The list is not final and I may not even get to all of these but there you go. Any further recommendations would be appreciated, especially if anyone knows good samurai anime movie I could watch.
« Last Edit: April 14, 2017, 04:57:41 AM by DarkeningHumour »
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1SO

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Re: Not Quite Seven Samurai Movies
« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2017, 09:26:19 AM »
Any further recommendations would be appreciated, especially if anyone knows good samurai anime movie I could watch.

I like your selections and wouldn't recommend any replacements if you want to keep it to Seven. I could certainly recommend some additional titles like After the Rain, and it seems you should consider at least one Zatoichi film. The 2003 Azumi is like a crazy samural superhero film. Lady Snowblood is a good recommend if you're a fan of Tarantino. For an animated recommendation, I remember Ninja Scroll being popular.
« Last Edit: April 14, 2017, 09:28:30 AM by 1SO »

MartinTeller

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Re: Not Quite Seven Samurai Movies
« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2017, 10:03:52 AM »
Sansho, while it's an incredibly great movie, is not at all about samurai. If you're hoping for action and swordplay, you'll be disappointed.

Which version of 47 Ronin are you watching? There are several. I've seen four, and my favorite is Inagaki's (1962, titled Chushingura). IMO it has the best action.

edit: oh I guess you're probably seeing the Mizoguchi since you mentioned the retrospective. It's lovely, but it feels its length and focuses too much on politics.
« Last Edit: April 14, 2017, 10:06:43 AM by MartinTeller »

DarkeningHumour

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Re: Not Quite Seven Samurai Movies
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2017, 01:06:31 PM »
I will be watching as many Mizoguchi as I can anyway, so I might as well index those two in here.

1SO, I have watched that Zatoichi, it was in my Top 5. I considered rewatching it, because I remember next to nothing about it, but for now I will focus on those movies I have never seen. There might be new additions in the future nonetheless, the list numbering seven movies was purely incidental (and sort of invalidates the "not quite" part of the marathon's title *grumble grumble*). Lady Snowblood, featured in oldkid's list, is also up for consideration, although, I remember something about it not being technically about Japanese samurai or something?
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Dave the Necrobumper

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Re: Not Quite Seven Samurai Movies
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2017, 07:21:06 AM »
*nudge* I will second 1SO's recommendation of Azumi.

DarkeningHumour

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Re: Not Quite Seven Samurai Movies
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2017, 07:53:07 AM »
The description does not mention samurai though, only assassins. Assassination would be anathema to Bushido.
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oldkid

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Re: Not Quite Seven Samurai Movies
« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2017, 11:14:58 AM »
I wouldn't change your top seven, but I strongly recommend Sword of Doom, which was my big surprise in my samurai marathon.
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Dave the Necrobumper

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Re: Not Quite Seven Samurai Movies
« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2017, 05:37:09 PM »
The description does not mention samurai though, only assassins. Assassination would be anathema to Bushido.

Fair point, then I will change that to The Lone Wolf and Cub series (you should still catch Azumi though).

DarkeningHumour

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Re: Not Quite Seven Samurai Movies
« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2017, 05:48:21 AM »
I wouldn't change your top seven, but I strongly recommend Sword of Doom, which was my big surprise in my samurai marathon.

I read the description. I. Am. In.

I am also in this marathon, in that I watched my first movies this weekend. Time to post.

Harakiri
Masaki Kobayashi (1967)


If you watch Kurosawa movies too much you run the risk of forgetting that period pieces, and samurai movies in particular, don't have to be about fighting. There is certainly enough in Japanese culture to fill many a bloodless film. In fact, you can use a single traditional ritual as your framing device for your entire film, even though Harakiri is not entirely bloodless.

I am having trouble writing about this film without this becoming an essay on the many ways in which it is excellent. I am oddly dispassionate about the while thing. I would love to know how much of the story is a reflection of life in post-war Japan and how much of that is me inventing parallelisms. I had the same thought when I was watching Ugetsu, so there is a good chance I am bringing something to these movies.

Beyond that issue, Harakiri says a lot about considering the entire humanity of people when dealing with them and the hypocrisy of self-righteousness, but again, not an essay. It also reminds us of the ever-present possibility that even the powerful may fall. Man, this not writing an essay thing is getting hard.

Let's try talking about what I didn't like. The movie's structure becomes seamless after the first few scenes but I found the beginning a bit disconcerting. The time jumps were unclear and there was one point where I had to readjust my understanding of what had just happened. It might be just me being thick, but it made it hard to dive into the movie. Good thing the rest of it was so good. There were also a few shots, among the generally glorious cinematography, that I didn't appreciate, notably a few over the shoulder ones.

The movie relies a lot on exaggeration. There is a brand of adamant stubbornness in the samurai that I have encountered in other Japanese films in the past and that feels somewhat extreme - but then, I don't know many swordsmen from the 1600s. The fight is also a bit slapsticky, but not necessarily in a bad way, because it is less about the realistic depiction of how the situation would play out than the conclusion of the movie's theme. It was still if ever so slightly ridiculous, and I wonder if some Kurosawa movies would feel like that too if I were to rewatch them now.

I don't think I could ever love Harakiri. Its intelligence is thrilling but a bit cold. The film only conveys emotion when it gets darkest (and it gets Grave of the fireflies dark), which makes it all about sober, humourless storytelling. Great storytelling certainly, but not very joyous stuff. The best compliment I can pay this film is that it is fascinating in what it teaches the profane about feudal Japan, and that might not even be the best thing about it.

8/10

I crossposted in the Shame Club because this was my dictation but I don't know if I should also publish these in the Respond thread.
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oldkid

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Re: Not Quite Seven Samurai Movies
« Reply #9 on: April 27, 2017, 11:53:32 AM »
Harikiri is like 12 Angry Men or The Ox Bow Incident, which are moral thought experiments with people talking through the revelations.  I love these kinds of films, but I also wish I knew that they were this way ahead of time so I don't expect a standard genre film.
"It's not art unless it has the potential to be a disaster." Bansky