Too Young to Kiss – Robert Leonard (1951)

Leonard’s 1951 comedy Too Young to Kiss is perfectly silly, but I needed a break from serious European cinema and North American political musings on theology. The film is entirely American, with its obsession with wealth, influence, and fame. At that time, 1951, it was still possible to build a film that is pleasant in…

Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) – Frank Lloyd

Although I’d seen this film several times before, I was looking for respite in some oceanic artistry, and so returned to watch Charles Laughton. Unfortunately, and despite Laughton’s fully convincing depiction of Bligh, upon which the film largely depends, the film fails narratively, as its screenplay turns solely on the act of mutiny. As historical…

Power Without Mercy – 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,…

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…