The Personal Recommendation Hall of Fame III: Foreign Language Edition

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@Thief I picked Ran for you because it is great and everyone should see it, plus I think you liked some other Kurosawa films. I really like the use of colour in Ran, which is interesting as a good deal of his films are black and white.
Thanks so much! It's definitely a film I've been meaning to see for a long time, but just hadn't. Your nomination was the push I needed.
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Somehow I'm thinking the film might've been more effective in black and white. As an aside: I'm not sure what the samurai husband meant by saying 'if she had only trusted me'? He repeated that several times at the end of the film.
I thought that the idea was that there would be a scandal that everyone would assume that the wife had had an affair with the guy who was stalking her OR possibly that she was worried that he would get killed if he fought the guy.

Either way, I think that the husband was just sad that she felt like she had to handle things on her own.



I thought that the idea was that there would be a scandal that everyone would assume that the wife had had an affair with the guy who was stalking her OR possibly that she was worried that he would get killed if he fought the guy.

Either way, I think that the husband was just sad that she felt like she had to handle things on her own.
Yeah I agree...it could be any of those reasons that you mentioned. I kinda thought the 'didn't trust in him' meant that he believed his wife didn't trust in his fighting abilities and would be killed in a duel with the stalker samurai. It's an interesting question.



My first review will be up today.
Stay tuned
Promises, promises.



Yeah I agree...it could be any of those reasons that you mentioned. I kinda thought the 'didn't trust in him' meant that he believed his wife didn't trust in his fighting abilities and would be killed in a duel with the stalker samurai. It's an interesting question.
I think it's interesting that the film really lets you see her side of it. She would
WARNING: spoilers below
rather die than risk seeing her husband killed, which is an understandable if tragic outcome. Even a skilled fighter can still lose a fight, and the stalker guy is ruthless and dangerous.



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I liked Gate of Hell ok but what I remember most was how vibrant the color was for it's time. I was surprised to see it get nominated but then I appreciate the out of the norm choices.




Gate of Hell (1953)
Dir. Teinosuke Kinugasa

Pretty much a middle of the road movie for me. No major flaws, nothing to complain about. The cinematography and sets were good but not amazing. The story was effective and probably resonated with Japanese audiences of the 1950s.

The one aspect of the film that did excel was the casting choices of the principal characters.



The actor (Isao Yamagata) who played the brutish, stalker samurai in love with a married woman, who's willing to kill to obtain her, was well cast and well performed. The actor extruded a dangerous obsession and was quite threatening in his performance.




In counter-balance the actor (Isao Yamagata ) who played the honorable husband of the pursued wife, was calm, wise and supportive of his wife. He also was well cast.



Machiko Kyō portrays the married lady-in-waiting in the Emperor's court. She's loyal and delicate, but also very strong when needed to be. She had this unique look about her that made the actions of the evil samurai believable. Machiko Kyō also starred in Rashomon.

Somehow I'm thinking the film might've been more effective in black and white. As an aside: I'm not sure what the samurai husband meant by saying 'if she had only trusted me'? He repeated that several times at the end of the film.

BTW: I like that font I used on the photos it's called: SF Orson Casual Shaded.
I saw this a few weeks ago. Like cricket, I really liked the color. I just wish I was more intrigued to the story.



The trick is not minding
High and Low

Akira San is mostly known for his Samurai, or chanbara Jidaigeki films. And rightfully so. Certainly, my first foray into his films were all four Samurai films (Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, Kagemusha, and Ran).

For Japan, that genre is equivalent to the US western genre. Both were tied their respective countries history. Going even further, his career is similar to John Ford. Both are more known for their work in their respective genres. And both are forever tied to working with a particular actor. Ford had some guy named John Wayne.

Akira San had Toshiro Mifune.

Like Ford, Akira San wasn’t just tied to one particular genre. He did a lot to advance noir in Japan. High and Low is one such example.

It starts off with rival exes meeting about taking over a shoe business. Me Gondo refuses to go along and arranges to take over himself. His son is then kidnapped. Except it isn’t his son. The kidnappers mistakenly grabbed the son of his chauffeur. All of this takes place within the first 15 minutes. We’re in for quite the ride.

What occurs is a cat and mouse game between the detectives and the kidnappers, one filled with suspense, and reminded me of The Day of The Jackal, though not quite as intense. There’s no action, just plain detective work, as they try to figure out who is responsible. The culprit was a surprise.

High and Low also has a running theme involving the how the poor view the rich. There are moments of jealousy, spoken out loud, even by the kidnapper. The dynamic between the two classes is evident with phrases like the following:

“It gets so hot in my apartment, I can barely sleep. And everyday I have to look up at your house above us on the hill.”

“Looking up at his house from down here also annoys me”
And that last line was spoken by a detective assigned to the case!

There is a scene early in the film, where Gondo is told not to call the cops, lest his son is harmed. He complies, until he discovers the mistake. He then proceeds to call the cops without hesitation. He even balks about paying the ransom. At first.

And really, how the characters all react to the situation is what makes this film work even better. Mifune is great as Gondo, as are the detectives assigned to the case. They go from open disdain due to his wealth, especially the one referred to as “Bos’n”, to reverence.

Among the best scenes, are the visit to drug alley, where we see the real destitute, poor souls with no where else to go and are in turn taken advantage of by the kidnapper.

Good pick.



I liked Gate of Hell ok but what I remember most was how vibrant the color was for it's time. I was surprised to see it get nominated but then I appreciate the out of the norm choices.
I actually thought it might be your pick for me. How did you take the ending quote by the samurai husband to mean?



High and Low

What occurs is a cat and mouse game between the detectives and the kidnappers, one filled with suspense, and reminded me of The Day of The Jackal, though not quite as intense. There’s no action, just plain detective work, as they try to figure out who is responsible. The culprit was a surprise.

High and Low also has a running theme involving the how the poor view the rich. There are moments of jealousy, spoken out loud, even by the kidnapper.
.
.
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And really, how the characters all react to the situation is what makes this film work even better. Mifune is great as Gondo, as are the detectives assigned to the case. They go from open disdain due to his wealth, especially the one referred to as “Bos’n”, to reverence.

Among the best scenes, are the visit to drug alley, where we see the real destitute, poor souls with no where else to go and are in turn taken advantage of by the kidnapper.

Good pick.
Yeah, I LOVE High and Low. The performances, the central mystery. Several films have "borrowed" from that excellent train ransom sequence. It stands right next to Seven Samurai as my favorite Kurosawa.



The trick is not minding
Yeah, I LOVE High and Low. The performances, the central mystery. Several films have "borrowed" from that excellent train ransom sequence. It stands right next to Seven Samurai as my favorite Kurosawa.
After an initial viewing, it stands at #3, behind SS and Yojimbo. But it could improve over time on repeat viewings.

It was so simple....no flash. No long winded speeches. Didn’t try to be clever for the sake of being clever. It just flowed so naturally, so effortlessly. Each scene just moved along with such ease.



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
A Man Escaped



This film was pretty dry to me. I didn't feel like I really cared about what was going on, specifically no real care about the fate of Fontaine. Never really felt he was in danger of making his escape, which to me really made the film suffer as I basically knew the outcome and also didn't really have a rooting interest for it either. How could this have been rectified? Perhaps a decent backstory or maybe just more emotion for the lead character. This is something that is pretty apparent in all Bresson films although I found a few to be decent. I don't think it's a poorly constructed film but it just doesn't bring any excitement or suspense to me. Which in a film like this I would say is a pretty key point to hit. Just really not my kind of film to be honest unfortunately.

That about sums up how I feel, no emotions and no involvement in the story from me.

Perhaps Ed will be a fan?
Watched A Man Escaped. Dry, like all Bresson I have seen so far. I like the methodical nature in a prison break scenario. I definitely got invested in the outcome. Best Bresson of the three I have seen so far.

I will give a star rating since it’s not an official HOF watch.
Yeah, definitely a fan.
When I watched it, it wasn't even a week after watching Pickpocket. So, having a full understanding of Bresson's preferences in style and technique and fully appreciating/enjoying them, I was in Clarity; Full Throttle.

I'm finding the tepid reactions to it pretty puzzling, to be honest. I thought it was pretty fantastic and brought to light the way that the survival of so many people who did manage to escape such circumstances hinged on so much luck and trust and bravery.
I liked A Man Escaped when I saw it. I didn't nominate it for anyone though.

@CitizenRules I picked The Earrings of Madame de... for you as I believe you liked Letter From an Unknown Woman.

@Thief I picked Ran for you because it is great and everyone should see it, plus I think you liked some other Kurosawa films. I really like the use of colour in Ran, which is interesting as a good deal of his films are black and white.
Ahhh, there's the love!

Great call on Madame de..., Thursday! I checked it out as well and raved about it.

And Ran is on the WatchList for Kurosawa.
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- This is one of those films where I liked it on first viewing but I feel like watching it again might actually make me dislike it, but that's pretentious existentialism for you.



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World on a Wire



#73 on the most recent Sci-Fi list, just ahead of Fantastic Planet, this 3 1/2 hour flick was originally a 2-part miniseries. Whenever it's Sci-Fi, it's a risky pick for me. I noticed beforehand it was directed by Fassbinder, whose movies I've enjoyed, so that gave me hope.

This seemed to me to be something way ahead of it's time with how it deals with what I'd guess you'd call virtual reality. I was never actually sure who or what was real. The Sci-Fi I do enjoy generally involves action or horror. This one is part crime and that was it's saving grace for me. There's an air of mystery throughout that kept me interested, even if I didn't always have the easiest time following. I'd probably have to watch it at least twice more in order to discuss it without embarrassing myself, no easy task due to it's length and pace. There's also quite an eerie vibe to it. There are moments that reminded me of A Clockwork Orange, a Marlene Dietrich clone, and sound effects that are cheesy but effective. I'm pretty sure that this is a better movie than what I can glean from it, but nonetheless a strong thumbs up from me. On YouTube with subtitles.




Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
Looked up World on a Wire in the sci-fi Countdown and read @Kaplan stating that it's theme was similar Phillip K Dick stories so that does sound interesting.