Day 262: Seven Samurai (1954)

seven-samurai-2It’s Sunday and there’s only 14 left in the year so that could only mean one thing and that it’s Sunday At The Classics. On September 23, the remake of The Magnificent Seven is going to be released into theaters, but what people do not realize is that the original film was a remake itself. So for today’s film, I am featuring the film that started it all in Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. A village in Japan is constantly under attack from a gang of more than thirty bandits. The village is scared and they no longer know what to do until the granddad (Kokuten Kōdō) suggests that they grab some samurai to protect the village. After seeing a Ronin named Kambei (Takashi Shimura) rescue a child, they ask him to save the village and he agrees as he hires six other samurai to help him against the bandits. The film stars Toshirô Mifune (Rashomon) as Kikuchiyo, Daisuke Katō (Yojimbo) as Shichirōji, Isao Kimura (High And Low) as Katsushirō Okamoto, Minoru Chiaki (The Hidden Fortress) as Heihachi Hayashida, Seiji Miyaguchi (Ikiru) as Kyūzō, Yoshio Inaba (Throne Of Blood) as Gorōbei Katayama, Yoshio Kosugi (King Kong Vs Godzilla) as Farmer Mosuke, and Kamatari Fujiwara (Kagemusha) as Farmer Manzo. 

seven-samuraiThis is probably the longest movie that I have viewed for the whole entire challenge so far clocking in at three hours and 27 minutes long. I do have to say however that it was well worth it because this was one piece f cinematic history right here. Akira Kurosawa was a master of his craft whether it was writing or directing because there are still films being made today that borrow from him. He was also the inventor of the Rashomon Effect (click the link to read about it) which is something still used today. You can see where all of the elements of The Magnificent Seven were taken from just by watching this film. The one thing I have to say is that Toshirô Mifune was electrifying in this film. You looked forward to seeing him on camera with his charismatic performance. I would definitely name him the MVP of the film because he definitely stole the show the first minute he was on screen. The rest of the seven were also very good actors including the old veteran Ronin Takashi Shimura who was very confident in his role and was the basis for Yul Brynner’s role. The cinematography was absolutely amazing and the editing was great as well. So you can see why this film is such a classic and why it’s is praised. My favorite scenes in the film besides the scenes with Mifune were the battle scenes. The battle scenes were literally the last part of the film and so well done. You have to understand that it was 1954 so the sword playing may not be perfect, but you get it. I definitely recommend this film to any cinephile out there that has not yet seen this yet. Do yourself the favor and watch it. I am going to give the film an A for a final grade.

Day 151: Flags Of Our Fathers (2006)

flags of our fathersFirst of all I want to start this article off by wishing everyone including the men and women of the Armed Forces a Happy Memorial Day. After all, this day is about remembering all soldiers past and present that have fought for this country. So for today’s film, I decided to watch a war film and I picked Flags Of Our Fathers which was directed by Clint Eastwood (Million Dollar Baby). It’s 1945 and the war is almost coming to a close, but America is still at war with the Japanese. While on the island of Iwo Jima, the goal is to hang an American flag at the top of a certain point. The film follows the six men who raised the very flag that we see in that iconic image and all of the issues they had to deal with while at war and after it. The film stars Ryan Phillippe (Cruel Intentions) as John “Doc” Bradley, Jesse Bradford (Hackers) as Rene Gagnon, Adam Beach (Windtalkers) as Ira Hayes, John Benjamin Hickey (The Bone Collector) as Keyes Beech, Barry Pepper (True Grit) as Mike Strank, Jamie Bell (King Kong) as Iggy, Paul Walker (Furious 7) as Hank Hansen, John Slattery (Captain America: Civil War) as Bud Gerber, Robert Patrick (Striptease) as Colonel Chandler Johnson, Neal McDonough (Red 2) as Captain Severance, and Melanie Lynskey (Up In The Air) as Pauline.

foofAs far as the film is concerned, it’s a very different type of war movie because not only do you see the horrors of war, but you see a very different side of it. You see a side of war that the politicians do not want you to see. For instance, throughout the film, the image of the men putting up the flag is more important to the cause then the actual truth behind the picture. The country practically has no money so they use the image and the remaining three men who are alive to try and raise money by selling bonds. They know very well that these guys are not comfortable with the whole hero thing, but they need to use that to try and draw money to win the war. Those are some of the things we do not get to see, but is the film controversial? Maybe or maybe not because it depends on who you ask like Spike Lee. Clint Eastwood as a director is money because I have yet to be disappointed at any of the films the man has made and that is truly amazing. There are some iconic images in this film like all of the warships out in the ocean to the gritty aspects of war. All of the acting was great, the cinematography was amazing, and the story was well written. This film may not be my favorite war movie in the world, but it certainly ranks up there. Like I said above, this day is about remembering all the men and women that served this country. Check out the film, learn some history about the nation, and I am giving the film an A- for a final grade.

Day 128:The Forest (2016)

the-forestThere was a lot of buzz surrounding today’s film when it came out in the theaters, but it didn’t last very long as the film quickly exited. I am talking about the film The Forest which stars Natalie Dormer (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay- Pt. 1) as both Sara and Jess Price, a set of twins that has always felt a close connection to each other. Jess has always been the troubled of the two as she was always getting herself into sticky situations with Sara always having to bail her out. One day, Jess is in Japan and she goes missing in the Aokigahara forest near Mount Fuji which is also known as the Suicide Forest. It is believed that she went there to commit suicide, but Sara just doesn’t believe it. So, she goes to Japan and into the Aokigahara Forest to try and find her sister before it’s too late or before the ghosts of the forest get to her. The film also stars Taylor Kinney (Zero Dark Thirty) as Aiden, Noriko Sakura (Dog Days) as Mayumi, Eoin Macken (The Night Shift) as Rob, Stephanie Vogt (The Voices) as Valerie, Yukiyoshi Ozawa (The Hidden Blade) as Michi, and the film was directed by Jason Zada.

the-forest-14502-largeOne thing must be for certain and that is that the Aokigahara Forest must be one of the scariest and spookiest places to be in the world especially if you stray off the path. The film wasn’t as scary though when it comes right down to the nitty gritty. The film has all the little cheap scares in it that you would expect from one of these films, but there just isn’t enough of them. Too many times, the film just drags and there isn’t anything really scary going on in the forest. I understand they were probably going for a more mysterious feel to the film, but I just wasn’t scared and I’ll be the first to admit that ghost stuff is what scares me the most. I really had high hopes for the film and by saying that I am not condemning it completely. It has it’s plus sides to it with the good acting and the cinematography at times is amazing especially with the shot of Mount Fuji and the various forest shots, but the film just wasn’t spooky enough for me. I think at the end of the day that is all I wanted from the film, but some of the scenes with the spirits was kind of creepy with some more than others. I have to be perfectly honest in saying that this film is a take it or leave it kind of film and I say watch at your own risk. I still think that this film was better than The Witch (way better) and with that being said I am going to give the film an B- for a final grade cause it’s not bad enough to be in the C level.