Ran

The Criterion Collection sure loves Shakespeare. Turns out so does Akira Kurosawa, though sometimes by accident? Throne of Blood is rather objectively the best adaptation of MacBeth that exists. Soon we’ll watch The Bad Sleep Well which could be Hamlet but it might be better to not think of it as Hamlet — we’ll get into that in a few weeks.

This week in the middle is Ran, which Kurosawa wrote, then someone pointed out that it sounded a lot like King Lear, so Kurosawa rewrote it to lean into the comparison.

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My Life as a Dog

Lasse Hallström had quite a career, getting his start directing a plethora of ABBA music videos and going on to direct The Cider House Rules, What's Eating Gilbert Grape, Chocolat, and a few other awards-season darlings, though Hallström himself has never won an Oscar

Somewhere in there lies My Life as a Dog, his 1985 coming-of-age tale about life in a Swedish small town. More Amarcord than the coming-of-age films we've seen more recently -- significantly less child death than, say, Ratcatcher -- My Life as a Dog is a hilarious and heartwarming film

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Brazil

John Scalzi described Brazil as "dystopian satire" and that's a fitting description for Terry Gilliam's 1985 1984-esque film, though I think it could be argued that all dystopian fiction is a form of satire, since it is usually a vision of some aspect of current society ballooned to absurd and dangerous proportions. Brazil is the second film in Gilliam's "Trilogy of Imagination" -- along with Time Bandits and The Adventures of Baron Munchhausen -- focusing this time on the escapism of a middle aged Jonathan Pryce living in a dystopia (reminiscent of the vision of hell in Black Orpheus) of incompetent bureaucracy -- so incompetent in fact that acts of "terrorism" are just as likely mislabeled failures of infrastructure and "terrorists" suspects can be the result of printing errors.

It's brilliant and beautiful, if rather fatalistic. It was that fatalism that led to Gilliam's infamous duel with Universal. The studio itself released the so-called "Love Conquers All" cut with a much happier ending and nearly an hour less footage. Gilliam for his part debuted the film without Universal's approval in a college film-making "seminar" in Los Angeles that was open to film critics. Before it was even properly released to the public it had won Best Screenplay (and Gilliam Best Director) at the LA Film Critics Association Awards.