Masaki Kobayashi – Samurai Rebellion (1967)

Masaki Kobayashi’s 1967 extraordinary study of the implacability of power—in this instance represented by the absolutism of feudal power—its lack of mercy, its destruction of opposition. It is set in 1725, in the time of the Tokugawa shogunate. It is both bleak and absorbing. In the end, skill and compassion, as the viewer must anticipate,…

Akira Kurosawa – Drunken Angel (1948) – Annihilations of War

The two central characters are an aged, weary, alcoholic doctor, played remarkably by the great actor Takashi Shimura and a young, alcoholic, tubercular gangster, played remarkably by the great actor Toshiro Mifune. It is the first collaboration between Kurosawa and Mifune, and between Mifune and composer Fumio Hayasaka. The doctor is committed to the combat…

Ugetsu – Kenji Mizoguchi (1953) – Spectral Amity

The beneficent ghosts exist in, and as, sublime and perfect moments of pleasure and wonder, both as projections of desire but also of remembrances—but displace the other, the so-called true, reality, which is frequently malign and invariably inexorable. It is the contrast between the land of ghosts and the land of humanity that is so…