Kihachi Okamoto's The Sword of Doom is, according to guest Donovan Hill, "like the most nihilistic Kurosawa film with exponentially increased cynicism." It's dark and violent and when the main character first shows up I thought he was an avatar of Death, not just a person who seems to think he's an avatar of Death. Donovan joins us as both our resident aficionado of Samurai film but also our resident aficionado of nihilism. A twofer!
Say a German filmmaker, born at the start of World War 2, makes a film about a kid just trying to fit in who goes along with it when the more popular boys start torturing a minority student? Would you say that the film is probably about the Nazis? Well, you'd be wrong. It's about everyone. Hey, humanity, be better.
Young Törless is Volker Schlöndorff's 1966 film that is a bit like Lord of the Flies but more honest. It doesn't take being cut off from adults for privileged young men to become monstrous; it can happen anywhere. And it often does.
Years ago we watched L'Avventura and really just could not get into it. L'Eclisse is the third film in a loose trilogy that L'Avventura started. In a few more years we'll watch the middle film. La Notte, and maybe things will get better. One thing I think long time listeners will notice is that the more films Lost in Criterion watches, the less Lost we feel. Still, L'Eclisse misses us, or we miss it. In either case in the three weeks between watching the film twice before record the episode and sitting down to actually edit it for release I completely forgot everything about the movie. At least I can remember things about L'Avventura, even if I hate it.
You can actually notice when people slip into Shakespearean-like speech because it is weird. I trust that Gus Van Sant knows how weird it is when he combined a modern day Falstaff script with a film about a narcoleptic street hustler. I mean, read that sentence. It's patently obvious that this is a weird thing. Which is not to say this is a bad film, because it is a very, very good film.
Point of advice for filmmakers young and old -- heck point of advice for anyone who seeks to "give voice to the voiceless": the "voiceless" have a voice, don't speak for them, but allow them to speak for themselves.
In making The River Jean Renoir made one very good choice: he hired Satyajit Ray as a local expert. The work here later helped to inspire Ray to make the Apu trilogy, but first off it allowed Ray to suggest that maybe if -- like Renoir claimed -- they were to make a movie that actually respected India and it's peoples, they should include some of those peoples in major roles. renoir agreed! And added one principle female Indian in a story about an aristocratic family of white British people.
When you have a pedestal and wish to raise someone else up, do what Brando did with Sacheen Littlefeather: use your name and clout, but step back and let the people you claim to represent tell their own story.