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

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…

Spectral Amity – Ugetsu – Kenji Mizoguchi (1953)

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…

Art Amongst the Alien Corn

  Somerset Maugham made a success of being a writer. So successful that as a novelist he was able to renounce his first profession as a physician, as a playwright able to leverage the early twentieth-century mania for plays in London, as a short story writer earn enormous sums from publishers and periodicals, as an investor…