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By Michael Sragow and Michael Sragow,SUN MOVIE CRITIC | December 26, 2003
As anyone who's followed the Akira Kurosawa series at the Charles should know by now, this master Japanese filmmaker has too long been pegged as an artist of action and maker of epics. The final entry in the series - a restoration of Kurosawa's 1952 masterpiece Ikiru, known in English as To Live - should clinch the revival of his original reputation, not merely as a movie master but also as a virtuoso humanist. Here he uses multiple film and narrative techniques to dramatize, without tears, the plight of a dying city-government bureaucrat who looks for shreds of meaning in his family and profession.
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By Michael Sragow and Michael Sragow,michael.sragow@baltsun.com | July 12, 2009
A samurai's wife dazzles a bandit as she and her husband make their way through a deep wood. The brigand rapes her. Someone kills the samurai. (Maybe it was himself.) That's all we know for sure about the action in Rashomon, even after the director, Akira Kurosawa, stages it from four different perspectives. No director has matched his ability to develop a story by leaps and bounds while revealing irresolvable discrepancies. Is the bandit a bold combatant and ladies' man or a feral pig?
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By Chris Kaltenbach and Chris Kaltenbach,SUN MOVIE CRITIC | September 27, 2003
John Ford and John Wayne. Frank Capra and Jimmy Stewart. Federico Fellini and Marcello Mastroianni. Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro. Of such director-actor partnerships are great movies - and cinema history - made. But none of those pairings reaped greater cinematic benefits than Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune. The former's mixture of humanism and Shakespearean tragedy virtually created a worldwide market for Japanese film, while the latter was an actor of great fury and grace, an unstoppable force whose portrayals of proud, inflexible and often tragic heroes made him the leading Japanese actor of his day. Together they made 16 films, movies filled with power and passion, embedded in tradition yet undeniably contemporary.
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By Michael Sragow Michael Sragow and Michael Sragow Michael Sragow,Sun Movie Critic | March 30, 2007
Read all the Russians, and then reread them," goes a line in the novel The Namesake. "They will never fail you." That's how I feel about the great Japanese directors. They make other filmmakers come off as petty magicians or mere children. Akira Kurosawa may be the only Japanese master most Americans know. But Kenji Mizoguchi, in his prime, gave the filmmaker we today recognize as sensei a run for his yen. Kurosawa's most famous work, Seven Samurai, hit the man's-man's jugular vein. Mizoguchi could attack sweeping masculine subjects while paying equal attention to the women on his canvas.
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By Michael Sragow Michael Sragow and Michael Sragow Michael Sragow,Sun Movie Critic | March 30, 2007
Read all the Russians, and then reread them," goes a line in the novel The Namesake. "They will never fail you." That's how I feel about the great Japanese directors. They make other filmmakers come off as petty magicians or mere children. Akira Kurosawa may be the only Japanese master most Americans know. But Kenji Mizoguchi, in his prime, gave the filmmaker we today recognize as sensei a run for his yen. Kurosawa's most famous work, Seven Samurai, hit the man's-man's jugular vein. Mizoguchi could attack sweeping masculine subjects while paying equal attention to the women on his canvas.
FEATURES
By Michael Sragow and Michael Sragow,SUN MOVIE CRITIC | November 14, 2003
While Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World storms into the Charles this weekend - and as worldwide audiences await Tom Cruise as The Last Samurai - the theater will also present a rip-roaring period classic as part of its Mifune-Kurosawa series. First released in 1958, The Hidden Fortress, a Japanese medieval entertainment, renders a comedy of ethical equilibrium as a sublime 16th-century civil-war epic. At the center is a righteous, ornery princess in disguise, piercing enemy lines to seek sanctuary in a friendly province, and a valiant, no-nonsense general (Toshiro Mifune)
NEWS
By Michael Sragow and Michael Sragow,michael.sragow@baltsun.com | July 12, 2009
A samurai's wife dazzles a bandit as she and her husband make their way through a deep wood. The brigand rapes her. Someone kills the samurai. (Maybe it was himself.) That's all we know for sure about the action in Rashomon, even after the director, Akira Kurosawa, stages it from four different perspectives. No director has matched his ability to develop a story by leaps and bounds while revealing irresolvable discrepancies. Is the bandit a bold combatant and ladies' man or a feral pig?
FEATURES
By MICHAEL SRAGOW and MICHAEL SRAGOW,SUN MOVIE CRITIC | June 23, 2006
Whether in The Adventures of Robin Hood or The Wild Bunch, action-movie art often occurs when directors apply fierce commitment and instinct to implausible exploits - and create revelation, wonder and excitement. Nowhere is that more evident than in the masterworks of Japan's great director Akira Kurosawa and his lesser-known equal Masaki Kobayashi. They and their stars, Toshiro Mifune and Tatsuya Nakadai, are at the center of the Charles Theatre's three-month series of samurai movies, playing Saturdays at noon, Mondays at 7 p.m. and Thursdays at 9 p.m., through mid-September.
FEATURES
By Michael Sragow and Michael Sragow,SUN MOVIE CRITIC | November 7, 2003
The greatest genre in recent years has been the documentary, and the best documentaries have often come from New York-based Cowboy Pictures. In 2002 alone, the distributor gave Baltimore audiences - at least those who frequent the Charles - the chance to see The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition, the most extreme of extreme adventures and a towering study in leadership; Promises, the moving chronicle of Palestinian and Israeli youngsters...
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By Stephen Hunter | July 15, 1996
Film fans get a rare chance to examine one of the most provocative cross-cultural patterns of influence in the cinema from an interesting series the Charles is now running.The series, "East Meets Eastwood," examines the strange relationship between the samurai films of the great Akira Kurosawa in the late 1950s and their subsequent impact on the Italian-made westerns that catapulted Clint Eastwood to stardom the early '60s.Tonight at 7: 15, the theater is showing "For a Few Dollars More," the second of the Eastwood films that were directed by the Italian visionary Sergio Leone, based on his interpretation of Kurosawa's bloody, beautiful warrior movies.
FEATURES
By MICHAEL SRAGOW and MICHAEL SRAGOW,SUN MOVIE CRITIC | June 23, 2006
Whether in The Adventures of Robin Hood or The Wild Bunch, action-movie art often occurs when directors apply fierce commitment and instinct to implausible exploits - and create revelation, wonder and excitement. Nowhere is that more evident than in the masterworks of Japan's great director Akira Kurosawa and his lesser-known equal Masaki Kobayashi. They and their stars, Toshiro Mifune and Tatsuya Nakadai, are at the center of the Charles Theatre's three-month series of samurai movies, playing Saturdays at noon, Mondays at 7 p.m. and Thursdays at 9 p.m., through mid-September.
FEATURES
By Michael Sragow and Michael Sragow,SUN MOVIE CRITIC | December 26, 2003
As anyone who's followed the Akira Kurosawa series at the Charles should know by now, this master Japanese filmmaker has too long been pegged as an artist of action and maker of epics. The final entry in the series - a restoration of Kurosawa's 1952 masterpiece Ikiru, known in English as To Live - should clinch the revival of his original reputation, not merely as a movie master but also as a virtuoso humanist. Here he uses multiple film and narrative techniques to dramatize, without tears, the plight of a dying city-government bureaucrat who looks for shreds of meaning in his family and profession.
FEATURES
By Michael Sragow and Michael Sragow,SUN MOVIE CRITIC | November 14, 2003
While Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World storms into the Charles this weekend - and as worldwide audiences await Tom Cruise as The Last Samurai - the theater will also present a rip-roaring period classic as part of its Mifune-Kurosawa series. First released in 1958, The Hidden Fortress, a Japanese medieval entertainment, renders a comedy of ethical equilibrium as a sublime 16th-century civil-war epic. At the center is a righteous, ornery princess in disguise, piercing enemy lines to seek sanctuary in a friendly province, and a valiant, no-nonsense general (Toshiro Mifune)
FEATURES
By Michael Sragow and Michael Sragow,SUN MOVIE CRITIC | November 7, 2003
The greatest genre in recent years has been the documentary, and the best documentaries have often come from New York-based Cowboy Pictures. In 2002 alone, the distributor gave Baltimore audiences - at least those who frequent the Charles - the chance to see The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition, the most extreme of extreme adventures and a towering study in leadership; Promises, the moving chronicle of Palestinian and Israeli youngsters...
FEATURES
By Michael Sragow and Michael Sragow,SUN MOVIE CRITIC | October 10, 2003
Focus Features originally scheduled Neil LaBute's The Shape of Things for a May 16 opening here, then recalled it after audiences in other cities voted against it with their feet. But the original stage version is now at the Top Floor (5440 Harford Road), and LaBute's movie has hit home-video shelves as a Universal tape and DVD. Because of a climactic trick, LaBute's work may "play" on the boards. But as a film, this college-set, gender-switched Pygmalion is relentless and familiar - just another shallow, vapid LaBute exploration of amorality, like his inexplicable art house hits In the Company of Men and Your Friends and Neighbors.
FEATURES
By Chris Kaltenbach and Chris Kaltenbach,SUN MOVIE CRITIC | September 27, 2003
John Ford and John Wayne. Frank Capra and Jimmy Stewart. Federico Fellini and Marcello Mastroianni. Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro. Of such director-actor partnerships are great movies - and cinema history - made. But none of those pairings reaped greater cinematic benefits than Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune. The former's mixture of humanism and Shakespearean tragedy virtually created a worldwide market for Japanese film, while the latter was an actor of great fury and grace, an unstoppable force whose portrayals of proud, inflexible and often tragic heroes made him the leading Japanese actor of his day. Together they made 16 films, movies filled with power and passion, embedded in tradition yet undeniably contemporary.
FEATURES
By Michael Sragow and Michael Sragow,SUN MOVIE CRITIC | October 10, 2003
Focus Features originally scheduled Neil LaBute's The Shape of Things for a May 16 opening here, then recalled it after audiences in other cities voted against it with their feet. But the original stage version is now at the Top Floor (5440 Harford Road), and LaBute's movie has hit home-video shelves as a Universal tape and DVD. Because of a climactic trick, LaBute's work may "play" on the boards. But as a film, this college-set, gender-switched Pygmalion is relentless and familiar - just another shallow, vapid LaBute exploration of amorality, like his inexplicable art house hits In the Company of Men and Your Friends and Neighbors.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Michael Sragow and Michael Sragow,Sun Movie Critic | August 26, 2001
The inept moviemakers of Summer 2001 should be forced to study the slate of classic movies from the Criterion Collection unspooling these hot-weather months on the Sundance Channel, from L'Avventura to Seven Samurai. Criterion -- a pioneer in laser discs when they were the connoisseur's home medium of choice -- has moved into the DVD era with a fine vengeance, refining its restoration techniques and perfecting its deluxe, extra-filled presentations. Audiences in cities without rep houses should leap at the chance to see classic pictures in Criterion's optimal prints, albeit on the small screen.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Michael Sragow and Michael Sragow,Sun Movie Critic | August 26, 2001
The inept moviemakers of Summer 2001 should be forced to study the slate of classic movies from the Criterion Collection unspooling these hot-weather months on the Sundance Channel, from L'Avventura to Seven Samurai. Criterion -- a pioneer in laser discs when they were the connoisseur's home medium of choice -- has moved into the DVD era with a fine vengeance, refining its restoration techniques and perfecting its deluxe, extra-filled presentations. Audiences in cities without rep houses should leap at the chance to see classic pictures in Criterion's optimal prints, albeit on the small screen.
FEATURES
By Ann Hornaday and Ann Hornaday,SUN FILM CRITIC | December 11, 1998
The Orpheum, Baltimore's premiere revival cinema in Fells Point, will pay tribute to the late, great Akira Kurosawa starting Monday with a weeklong double feature of two of the director's classic films: "Ikiru" (1952), about a dying man's last splendid gesture, and "Rashomon" (1951), the film Kurosawa is best-known for, about a murder in 12th-century Japan and the differing perceptions of its witnesses.He loves 'true crime'Director Joe Berlinger, who with Bruce Sinofsky created the award-winning documentaries "Brother's Keeper" and "Paradise Lost," was in Baltimore this week observing the production of "Homicide" in anticipation of landing a directing gig on the series later in the season.
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