Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Kurosawa is Sweet!

You know how you sometimes hear about how wonderful and influential a director is? Well, let me tell you that every praise that you have heard about Akira Kurosawa is justifiable. Thanks to Cinematheque Ontario ( a division of TIFF: Toronto International Film Festival), you will have a chance to see for yourself how deserved these accolades are. Cinematheque is screening Kurosawa films at Jackman Hall this month, and the big screen is best way to see any Kurosawa film.

I'm not usually a huge fan of dramas shot in CinemaScope; Westerns, musicals, yes, but I find it's use in dramas gimmicky in the hands of most directors. Thankfully, I can say that Kurosawa has the wisdom and skill to use the widescreen technique to it's full visually capacity. He knows how to block a scene in order to communicate aspects of his storytelling that cannot be done verbally. It was my absolute pleasure to watch his kidnapping masterpiece, High and Low* last night. I was completely absorbed in the morality tale of a Gonko (played by Kurosawa regular, Toshiro Mifune), a high level shoe company executive grappling with whether or not to risk financial ruin to save the life of his chauffeur's son who has been mistaken for his own child. The interplay in Gonko's living room with the police detectives, Gonko's right hand man, Gonko's wife, and the chauffeur are as fascinating to watch as they are to hear. Mifune's usual intensity is palpable as his character Gonko faces financial ruin and loss of face at the very moment where he is on the brink of financial triumph and power. Kurosawa's comment on capitalism is never lost in this gripping police thriller that captivates from start to finish.

Every Kurosawa is a "must see", but the next film that my schedule allows is the fabulous RAN at 4pm on July 18th. If you have never seen a Kurosawa film, then please hurry up and get your ticket (limited availability) to see this interpretation of Shakespeare's King Lear. You don't have to be familiar with Shakespeare to enjoy this colourful spectacle. Actress Mieko Harada is so juicily evil you will never forget her! If you can't get tickets or you are not free in the afternoon, then get a ticket to The Hidden Fortress, the film that inspired, George Lucas' Star Wars. July 18th at 7:30 pm.

For the full line up of other Kurosawa masterpieces, visit www.tiff.net and click on the Cinematheque link.

Box Office: 416-968-3435 or 1-877-968-3456. All screenings take place at Jackman Hall, Art Gallery of Ontario, 317 Dundas Street West--use McCaul Street entrance)

*Spoiler Alert! If you ever plan to watch High and Low, do yourself a favour and don't watch the trailer; it gives way too much away!

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