The Bad Sleep Well

We round out Akira Kurosawa’s Shakespearean adaptations with the loosest of the bunch, so loose in fact that we posit that the “adaptation” is a construction of Western critics grasping at straws instead of a purposeful, or even unpurposeful, decision by Kurosawa. In any case, as Kaori Ashizu argued in the journal of the Shakespeare Society of Japan, going into The Bad Sleep Well understanding it to be a Shakespeare adaptation actually undermines a lot of the excellent storytelling Kurosawa is doing.

Donovan Hill joins us, and along the way we also talk about public office corruption in Japan and Ohio. Good times!

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Samurai Rebellion

We kick off the Rebel Samurai boxset this week with Masaki Kobayashi's aptly named Samurai Rebellion. Toshiro Mifune stars in a film that plays as a companion piece to Kobayashi's great Harakiri that we talked about back in July. Donovan Hill joins us this episode and for the rest of the boxset, and it's always a joy to have him.

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Harakiri

We'll be exploring a string of samurai deconstruction films in just a few months as we tackle the Rebel Samurai boxset. Though virtually every Jidaigeki samurai film we've seen so far is a deconstruction of the genre, the deconstructionists hit hard in the 60s as young men disillusioned by the war became the nation's primary voices in film.

This week we have Harakiri, Masaki Kobayashi's hard-hitting 1962 entry in the genre (and we'll see more from him in the coming boxset). While the title is more properly Seppuku in Japanese, the "vulgar" term harakiri better sums up the films attitude toward the traditional practice. Donovan Hill joins us, as he often does for these sorts of films, and we're better off for it, though as is often the case he leads us on a longer than normal conversation.

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The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

Spine 300.

Wow.

For all the jokes about doing this until either we or the Criterion Collection itself dies I don't know that we ever realistically thought we'd be Lost in Criterion for this long. I suppose we may as well stick it out.

Wes Anderson is a favorite of the Collection and we will eventually see all of his films as part of it. He's also a favorite (or decidedly not) of many of our friends who we've invited on this week's episode to discuss his 2004 film The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. Long time friends Donovan Hill and Stephen Goldmeier return, as well as normally only Christmastime guests Andrew Tobias and Ben Jones-White. Our dear friend and musician Jonathan Hape sits in as well, and helps us run a slightly better set up for multi-guests in one room, though the recording does have some issues, principally an echo on multiple tracks that I wasn't able to track down. Let's pretend I added it on purpose to make the episode more whimsical.

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The Sword of Doom

Donovan Hill joins us as our resident Samurai film buff, and that's always fun. If you like hearing Donovan rant, and I know I do, he joins us for non-Samurai films over on the Patreon bonus episodes more often and it's always a treat.

We're talking Kihachi Okamoto's The Sword of Doom from 1966 and boy is it nihilistic. That's something Donovan knows a bit about as well. Good times! But for serious, this is good conversation. It's also long. Clocking in as one of the longest episodes Lost in Criterion has had because of the enlightening exploration of Japanese cultural history that Donovan and Pat provide.

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Cobra

It's that time of year again! The time where we gather close to loved ones and, at least in the northern hemisphere, try to stay warm through the darkness. Whatever your position on this planet, though, assuming you count time by the Gregorian calendar it's also the time of looking back at what has passed and hoping in what may come.

Or hoping against what you fear may come.

2016 has been...complicated. 2017 isn't going to be much easier. But we can strive to make it better.

We've seen some great films this year that provide a light in the darkness. It may have been Lost in Criterion's most political year yet, and some of our best episodes this year deal with politics, fear, politics of fear, and fear of politics. Oh, and the Holocaust. Let's try not to let that happen again, eh? As like a New Year's Resolution, maybe? But, you know, one we actually keep.

We got existential with Solaris and Bergman's trilogy on religion. We examined the ups and downs of a life (and a career) with Truffaut's Antoine Doinel series. We talked about the nature of documentary and art. We even peered Dickens-like into a possible future.

We finish things off, as we always do, with a seasonally appropriate non-Criterion Collection movie. This year it's Sylvester Stallone's 1986 film Cobra. George P. Cosmatos directs this just awful film -- awful both in product and moral. Donovan Hill and Stephen Goldmeier, two long time guests and practicing defense attorneys, join us for a film that is like Dirty Harry on speed, the story of a cop who is do dedicated to "justice" that he's willing to punch out a reporter who suggests that criminals may have civil rights. Oh and that cop murders a lot of people. Ostensibly he is the good guy here. There are no good guys here. C'est la vie.

For those of you who haven't seen it, Pat was kind enough to edit all the good bits of Cobra into this one 30 mb gif which I can't post here because SquareSpace limits us to files under 20 mb, but if you have the data follow this link!

This has been a long post but if you're still reading, we are very happy to announce our new Patreon this week: https://www.patreon.com/lostincriterion. If just 1/10 of you regular listeners pitched in a dollar a year we'd make enough for our costs, but it's still just enough to strain us financially because we are poor. But we've got some decent rewards for those who'd like to help! (We hope, at least. And right now hope is all many of us have.) Please click through and check it out!

So Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! Happy Hanukkah! Heri za Kwanzaa! Joyous Solstice! Joyeux Candlenights! Our love and thoughts and blessings to you on whatever you may or may not be celebrating. We're all in this together. 

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Jubilee

Derek Jarman's Jubilee is complicated.

It started life as a documentary about Jordan, a movie "about punk rock", and slowly grew into the post-apocalyptic time travel weirdly pro-Monarchy-ish critique of punk rock and British society. As an openly gay man in London in 1978, perhaps Jarman was an outsider outside other outsiders, further anti-establishment than the punk movement he saw around him. At least that's the argument I try to make against Pat and guest Donovan Hill, who really just think Jarman's thesis -- whatever it is -- doesn't land. I don't necessarily love the film, personally, but it's definitely more interesting than I think my cohosts give it credit for.

Of course I could very well be wrong -- certainly Jarman doesn't hit his critique out of the park -- but we manage a pretty great conversation about punk rock, politics, ideals, and selling out. One of my favorite episodes to record, hope you love it as much as I did.

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Throne of Blood

There's an old theater superstition that you should not utter the name Mackers, er, MacB. The Scottish King? MacBeth.

If we shadows have offended

Akira Kurosawa seems to have taken the Scottish Curse a bit too literally, transposing his adaptation of the Bard's play into his usual feudal Japanese setting, infusing it with Noh theatre tropes, and editing profusely, the last of which everyone needs to do when adapting Shakespeare to film.

Good thing, too. Because if 1957's Throne of Blood had been cursed, our beloved Toshiro Mifune definitely really would have died during his final scene.

Oh, and friend of the show Donovan Hill stops in for this episode, as well. What a treat!

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Rashomon

Donovan Hill adds a third point of view that probably isn't "truth" as he joins us to talk about Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon (1950). The film invented an oft-poorly-imitated film convention and introduced Kurosawa to the West. Pat says modern Japan sees it as one of Kurosawa's "classics." You know, like the rest of his films.

The Rock

Frequent and wonderful guest Donovan Hill joins us once more - and it's been far too long - for Michael Bay's debut film 1996's The Rock, a movie that may actually be a videogame? Kinetic is probably the best descriptor for the film, and in the spirit of that keneticality Donovan kicks us off by recommending two other movie podcasts that he compares us disfavorably to and frequently stops talking while googling the IMDB pages for minor characters. Thanks, Donovan. Merry Christmas!

Rushmore

So Pat was in the US a few months ago, and it happened that our recording schedule (we were working pretty far ahead at the time) brought us Rushmore. Like Indie music, the works of Wes Anderson hit the right notes for folks like us, so we got some friends together for a bit of a party and a discussion of a movie some of us love a lot more than others.

We've got Donovan Hill returning once again, love of my life Amanda Morant with affected British accent action, Jonathan Hape making his first appearance outside the theme music, and his wife Casey Hape who's one smart cookie we're glad to have. Also, Pat's son makes a brief appearance, but adds nothing of value to the conversation. A good group of people and I wish more of them would come around for more episodes. This is one of our truest round-table discussions, probably helped by the fact that we were actually sitting around a round table.

Sanjuro

Yojimbo proved so popular that Akira Kurosawa reworked his next project, another period piece starring the great Toshiro Mifune, into a sequel/prequel/parallelequel starring possibly the same character or maybe not but Mifune plays him similarly and they have similar names.

Anyway, however they're ultimately related, a year after Yojimbo came out Kurosawa released Sanjuro (1962), a film that has decidedly more to say about how samurai weren't all that great. It's no wonder this one wasn't remade as often.

Donovan joins again and we thank him for his time. It's always so exciting and long-winded when he's around.

Merry Christmas with Die Harder

We kicked things off about a year ago with a special non-Criterion Christmas-themed episode, so we thought we'd celebrate our anniversary with a sequel and friends. And what friends! Long time contributors Donovan Hill and Stephen Goldmeier in their first episode together, as well as Stephen's partner from Enchantment Under the Sea Andrew Tobias and filmmaker Wrion Bowling (whose award-winning Shelter is really something you should see). We love guests. You should join us sometime.

This year's Christmas movie is a direct sequel to last year's: Renny Harlin's 1990 "Die Hard in a _____" (airport this time) Die Hard 2: Die Harder. It's got everything the first one had to offer but with even more civilian casualties and even more journalists who aren't really that good of people if you think about it. Merry Christmas or whatever winter holiday you celebrate! They're all great, why don't you try to hit all of them?

It's been a good year, folks. We've had fun and seen some great movies (except Salo). We've got like 23 more to go before we're through everything. But we watched Salo. We can do anything. Wish us luck?

High and Low

As our resident Kurosawa obsessive Donovan Hill joins us again to talk about the director's 1963 crime drama High and Low. The first hour is a morality play taking place in a shoe company executive's living room. The next one and a half are a police procedural that feels like Law and Order. I'm not selling this right.

Great and interesting movie. Fun conversation. Always glad to have Donovan around. If you'd like to join us for any conversations talk to us on Facebook

Robocop

Paul Verhoeven's first American film is a violently subtle attack on corporatism. The 1987 film also looks forward to a hypothetical dystopian Detroit that looks like it might be better off than current actual Detroit.  In a movie about excess Kurtwood Smith still manages to steal the show as the over-the-top villain. It's a really fun movie and I'm happy to report that Donovan Hill is joining us again to discuss it.

Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island

Well, Donovan Hill finishes off Hiroshi Inagaki's Samurai Trilogy with us as we discuss the 1956 end to the saga: Duel at Ganryu Island. It's not quite as action oriented as the other two films, but it does a lot to tie up loose ends and put a cap on the story.

Hopefully Donovan will be back, it was pretty fun having him on.

But I don't think we'll convince him or anyone else to join us next week. 

Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto

This week marks a string of episodes where we have a special guest to help us discuss Hiroshi Inagaki's Samurai Trilogy, a historic biopic of Japanese legend Musashi Miyamoto. Please welcome to the show Donovan Hill, an old friend whose father first tossed him into the river of Samurai culture at an inappropriately young age, but we'll let Donovan tell you all about that in this weeks episode. We're always happy to have guests, and if you'd like to join us, please feel free to ask in the comments section.

The Trilogy stars Toshiro Mifune, who was also in Seventh Samurai (a film Donovan probably would have loved to discuss with us as well), whose birthday was just this past Monday. How coincidental.