Kurosawa, Ozu, Imamura – show time once again

Seven Samurai

protecting village farmers

beset by bandits

 

I finally got around to watching the Seven Samurai.  Right I know.  How could I have waited so long?  Over 3 hours long but worth every second.  I can finally add it to my list of films over on the film page (I only add them once I have actually watched them). I`d love to see Ikiru which stars Takashi Shimura, the leader of the group of samurai protecting the village in The Seven Samurai but have yet to find it online. It is on YT but it`s one of those cases where the person who posted the film instructs you to click on a link in the description of the film and I find that a bit suspicious. I prefer straightforward ways of viewing films on YT. Click on the film you like and up it comes straight away. Otherwise I won`t bother no matter how much I want to see it.  Takashi Shimura also has a role in another of Akira Kurosawa`s famous pics – Rashomon.  As does another of the samurai group who plays the jovial `woodcutter` samurai in the Seven Samurai but the priest in Rashomon.  And of course Toshiro Mifune stars in both the Seven Samurai and Rashamon as well (and other films by AK). He and Shimura were Kurosawa`s two regular male stars. Mifune ultimately fell out with Kurosawa (basically over the contractual obligations of having to grow and maintain a beard for his role in Red Beard, another one I want to see, but no doubt there was something more to it than that, could be they were just sick of each other!!)
I also watched a film from 2001 by Shohei Imamura who directed the Eel  (うなぎ) with Koji Yakusho. He also stars in this one and I am pretty sure the female lead stars in the Eel as well but I can`t remember.  It`s a very, ahem, unusual film shall we say but it has a similar plot in Koji Yakusho`s down on his luck character finding a new life for himself – this time when he goes to seek a treasure a tramp tells him about and finds you could say a different treasure, in this new life and the woman he ends up meeting and sharing it with. In The Eel as we know he comes out of prison and starts a new life as a barber. Both films have a surreal element to them.

Going back further in time, I watched yet another Yasujiro Ozu film The Flavour of Green Tea over rice (お茶漬けの味) where a young woman seeing how unhappy her aunt is with her marriage, refuses to attend arranged marriage meetings and would prefer to meet a man of her own choice.  The aunt is unhappy with her husband who she thinks dull when all he wants is to be allowed to appreciate the simple things in life like green tea poured over rice.   They eventually make up after a tiff and bond over this.  Interesting thing I read about this film is that, Ozu was initially planning the film during the days of the might of the Japanese military who tried to make Uzo change the title of the film to mention red rice (Rice mixed with red beans) to promote their military power abroad and especially in China.   Ozu put the project aside for a while and eventually made it with the title he wanted, and it came out in 1952, well after the war.    Interesting that red rice is what was also traditionally given to young women having their period for the first time and so becoming a woman.      Ozu also had his regular actors as I have mentioned before and Ryu Chizu appears in this two years earlier to his old man role in Tokyo Story.  His character reminisces back to the time he was in the army in Singapore (with the Uncle) so the military by chance gets a mention anyway.  But in those days men of that character`s age were probably nostalgic about being in the war so there was not much wrong in one of his characters reminiscing about it.  Anyway, the young man who the niece befriends and, it appears, gets together with (a younger friend of her green-tea-over-rice fan of an uncle) looked really familiar to me I thought but I had not seen him in any of Ozu`s other films or any others, an actor by the name of Koji Tsuruta.  Then I realized he looked like the 1950s embodiment of Eita (Nagayama), the modern day actor who starred in that series I liked called Saikou no Rikon and many other Japanese dramas (Last Friends being another good drama he was in).  I saw him in something else recently, a pretty hammy film on-line about two long-lost brothers uniting as adults which made me think of him.

Anyway, pouring green tea over rice is a great way of using up left-over rice isn`t it?

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