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AK 100

PDVD_111The most imposing gift box of this season is Criterion’s $400 “AK 100,” a collection of 25 films by Akira Kurosawa issued in anticipation of his centenary next March.  Most of what’s in it are single disc editions of Kurosawa films that Criterion has previously issued with reams of extras, but there are four titles that haven’t been previously released in Region One, all from the wartime years:  “Sugata Sanshiro,” parts one (1943) and two (1945); “The Most Beautiful” (1944); and “The Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail” (1945).  A review here in the New York Times.

367 comments to AK 100

  • Kent Jones

    Barry, first of all, I want to make clear that my movie is MAN IN THE SHADOWS, as opposed to SHADOWS IN THE DARK, which only concentrates on the horror films and was included as an extra when the Lewton box was first released. Maybe someday they’ll do MADEMOISELLE FIFI and YOUTH RUNS WILD as WB Archive titles.

    Regarding the give and take between moviemakers and moviegoers, I need to say that the mysterious “he” from Paramount is Brad Grey. I guess there are always exceptions to every rule, and I’m sure I’m wrong in a million ways. I just wonder: who was clamoring to see 2012? Or THE PROPOSAL? I’m sure Sandra Bullock fans are always eager for more, but are they really eager for more of THAT? The franchises are a different story, I guess. Meanwhile, I’m sure you’re just as excited as I am by the slew of forthcoming films based on board games.

    Tony, I wonder. There are a lot of good movies around, just few opportunities to see them.

  • Kent Jones

    …and Barry, yes, we included a little clip from PLEASE BELIEVE ME: Robert Walker in a pool winking at James Whitmore as Deborah Kerr saves him from a faked drowning. We also spent more time on MADEMOISELLE FIFI, YOUTH RUNS WILD, and as much as we could afford on APACHE DRUMS and MY OWN TRUE LOVE. We also included the Selznick films with which Lewton was most heavily involved, ANNA KARENINA, A TALE OF TWO CITIES, and, of course, GWTW.

  • Just to bring things back around to the Kurosawa box, here is what Criterion has posted on its website:

    We were amazed at how many e-mails we received from people saying they already had twenty of the titles included in the new box set AK 100: 25 Films by Akira Kurosawa. A big thank-you to all who contacted us about this. It’s never our aim to make you buy the same title over again. If we do rerelease a title, it’s because we feel it merits a new edition: a new transfer or new supplements, frequently both. We thought (and still think) of AK 100 as a great way to introduce your friends to Kurosawa—it’s really a magnificent present.

    To answer the most frequently asked question: yes, we will be releasing separately the five titles in the set that had previously been unavailable from Criterion: Sanshiro Sugata; The Most Beautiful; Sanshiro Sugata, Part Two; The Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail; and Madadayo. Sanshiro Sugata; Sanshiro Sugata, Part Two; and The Most Beautiful will be released in an Eclipse set; The Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail and Madadayo will be released in Criterion editions.

  • My recollection is that Donald Richie did a commentary for Tiger’s Tail ages ago. then again, he supposedly also did one for Ozu’s I Was Born But — and that film got “eclipsed”.

  • Barry Putterman

    Kent, thanks for the clarification on the documentaries. It must be frustrating for you that the titles are so similar. Now that I realize that there are two documentaries, I will go about rectifying my shortfall.

    I would think that there is much more to be said on all sides of filmmaker-filmgoer dialogue issue, but probably not here and now. However, I will say that while the prospect of a slew of movies based on board games doesn’t exactly set my heart aflutter, one of them might turn out to be a contemporary version of BRAINWASHED. Also, it is possilbe that I’d be willing to fork over $12.50 for PARCHEESI: THE MOVIE if that one is, in fact, in the pipeline.

  • Kent Jones

    Barry, my only consolation is that 1) I chose the title of my movie, and 2) there are no shadows in the dark. Because it’s dark.

    Personally, I can’t wait for OLD MAID.

  • Barry Putterman

    There are no shadows in the dark! Indeed, a titular conundrum worthy of my own personal favorite, SEVEN ALONE. Or, as one of the bots said as the U-I logo came up for THIS ISLAND EARTH, “Well, if it’s Universal, wouldn’t it ALSO be International?”

  • jbryant

    Kent: I wonder how many people went to see Rose Troche’s GO FISH expecting some exciting card game action? Actually, maybe they were pleasantly surprised by the type of action they DID get.

    I guess I have to step up and admit I quite like THE PROPOSAL (and Anne Fletcher’s previous two films as well). The packed opening weekend audience I saw it with seemed to eat it up, too. I’ll have to rent MUSIC AND LYRICS, one of the few contemporary rom-coms my girlfriend went to see without me.

  • Kent Jones

    ROM-COM – there’s a potential title for you…

    Is THE PROPOSAL good? I saw most of it out of the corner of my eye on a plane, and it looked like Sentimental education, Variation 6a: Hard-driven executive learns about self and falls in love. Nothing worthy of MUSIC AND LYRICS. A sample item: Grant, a former pop superstar, is given a picth to appear on a show called “Battle of the 80s Has-Beens.” Sample line: “Man, that Debbie Gibson can sure throw a punch.”

  • Moonrise! Wouldn’t that qualify as a haunted movie as well?

    My three favourite directors working today are probably Michael Mann, Claire Denis and Aleksandr Sokurov (ALEKSANDRA is perhaps the most moving film I’ve seen this last decade), and I’ve sometimes felt that there are similarities between Mann and Denis, as has been mentioned above. It’s a visual thing mostly, and a sense of otherworldiness, occasionally.

    I don’t now what it is with Hugh Grant but I can’t get enough of him. I’ve seen MUSIC AND LYRICS many times, and some scenes are just brilliant. Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant make a cute couple in TWO WEEKS NOTICE, although the funniest scenes in that film is between Grant’s character and his brother, (played by David Haig I think). Consequently I have very little choice but to go and watch DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THE MORGANS? when it opens. I wonder if my years at the Bergman archives makes me a shoe-in for the Lawrence archives when that times come? (And I kinda liked THE PROPOSAL, for a few good scenes, such as when Mary Steenburgen starts to cry ever so softly when Sandra Bullock is trying out the wedding dress.)

    Ah yes, the cinema is not dead. It’s gloriously alive, and besides, I take MUSIC AND LYRICS any day before ÉLOGE DE L’AMOUR. I’m just saying.

  • nicolas saada

    Kent, altouhght I already jumped in the other train, you shpuld telle me what you think of Jud Apatow who made it on the cover of cahiers. I mean, is he any good ? I enjoy 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN but much less KNOCKED UO (or at least just half of it). I heard SUPERBAD was good(…). I have a hard tilme dealing with such ugly looking films.
    As for MADEMOISELLE FIFI, it’s available in France here :

  • Kent Jones

    NS, I’ve only caught THE 40-YEAR OLD VIRGIN and some of KNOCKED UP. I like his films just fine, but I don’t find him as exciting as many others do – Arnaud D, for instance.

  • Johan Andreasson

    If nothing else Judd Apatow deservs credit for being involved in the outstanding TV series FREAKS AND GEEKS.

  • jbryant

    I see an affinity between Apatow and one of my favorite directors, Leo McCarey, even though for all I know he’s never heard of the man. I’ve liked almost everything he’s done so far (haven’t seen FUNNY PEOPLE yet). Johan, it doesn’t get any better than FREAKS AND GEEKS; just an amazing achievement for Apatow and the show’s creator/co-producer Paul Feig.

    Kent, I won’t make any great claims for THE PROPOSAL. It’s just about impossible to make a commercial film in that genre that doesn’t hew close to the formula. So the question becomes is it written, directed and acted well enough to minimize the fact that I’ve seen it all before a few thousand times? I had fun with it, and I think Fletcher has a good eye (see also her Baltimore location work in STEP UP) and an unerring sense of pace that perhaps helps keep one from dwelling on the cliches. I haven’t seen THE PROPOSAL again since Glenn Kenny pointed out some continuity cutting issues that got his goat, but you know how it is — if a movie’s working for you, you may not notice that stuff; if it’s not, it’s ALL you notice.

  • Apatow, pfui. If you want someone who understands the midlife crisis of immature men, check out Steve Moffat’s writing in the British TV show Coupling–does everything Apatow does, and still manages to provide ample voice to his women characters, write wittier dialogue and (incidentally) play with time scheme and point of view.

  • Andrea Middletown

    “Kobayashi’s SEPPUKU is a far richer and complex exploration of a feudal society than any of Kurosawa’s period films.”

    Ridiculous. Apples and oranges. Comparing Seppuku with Seven Samurai is about as meaningful as comparing Renoir with Bresson. Futile exercise. A bit precious too.

  • Criterion’s work on some of these titles is first rate; others, just OK. Let’s hope they put out the unreleased films in this set individually, at least the two Sugata films. Kagemusha on Blu-ray is stunning, BTW.