April 27, 2004

Swordplay At Dusk

twillight samuraiThough Cinecultist would never really suggest a life free of movie publicity and journalism consumption, there are times where going into a picture with no expectations can be so delightful. On Sunday, CC thought we'd see one of the two Asian films playing at our neighborhood Landmark Sunshine theater and in the toss up between Shaolin Soccer and Twillight Samurai, we randomly decided on Twillight. What a wonderful discovery this picture is; filled with touching performances, gentle humor, gorgeous camera work, thrilling fight scenes and a daughter's dedication to a father that made CC a little weepy as the credits rolled. And CC's not one of those at the drop of the hat movie criers either.

Japan's official nomination for the foreign language Oscar last year, Tasogare Seibei was originally released in 2002 and actually is available on DVD already but is now getting a theatrical distribution by Empire Pictures. The story of a samurai set during the period in Japan's history just before the dissolution of this political institution, Seibei Iguchi's wife has just died and now finds himself responsible for his infirm mother, two young daughters, and a farming household while also fulfilling his duties as a low level civil servant. While there are two wonderfully dramatic sword fight scenes in the film, most of the plot focuses on the strictures Iguchi experiences as a samurai low on the totem pole in his clan's ranking.

Imagine Jane Austen meets Akira Kurosawa and you can get a sense of the film's rhythms and preoccupations. The director Yoji Yamada captures that Kurosawa drum beat necessary for the long walk to the moment of duty, but he also has a grasp of the deft touch needed for an intimate drawing room drama. Some might not think the two traditions could meld well together, but for a fan like Cinecultist who always thought Pride and Prejudice could have done with a little ass-whomping, it's a match made in heaven.

NYU Remainder Quote of the Day from a Times article about a writing student who has been living in Bobst Library: "N.Y.U. doesn't attract just smart students, it attracts smart, eclectic students," said Mr. Beckman, the university spokesman. "We had a film student who wanted to film a couple performing a live sex act in front of a class. We had students who set up a swimming pool in their dorm room. Now we have this fellow."

Posted by karen at April 27, 2004 8:31 AM