Sunday, April 08, 2012

I've been Rock and Roll and Disco, won't you save me, Bullet Train to Osaka?

...something like that. Well, as long as it's dangerously past my bedtime, why not comment on a feature-length film for a change? Sadly, I've been letting down the craft of film reviewing lately. As David Mamet might have Sean Connery from The Untouchables say: "The first rule of film reviewing is to stay awake during the whole picture!" A task I've been unable to do with two Richard Linklater pictures in particular: Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly... if I could only figure out what both have in common... Keanu Reeves! That's it! Anyway, I have to give credit to my viewing companion whose opinion I trust. He scooped out this one showing on Turner Classic Movies, swear words and all. Akira Kurosawa's 1963 pic High and Low. A mere seven years after Ransom!, but with a couple twists. It's apparently broken into two distinct parts, I found out later, but sort of suspected at first. It starts out as a domestic drama of a lowly member of Japan's one percent, a man who takes pride in his work making shoes at the Sunshine Happy Feet Shoe Manufacturing Company... I'm sorry, National Shoe Company. Just National Shoe Company. Gondo, the main guy, has invited the other bigwigs of said company to his house for a powwow. The powwow fizzles, much like the beginning of Kurosawa's 1985 masterpiece, Ran (a retelling of Shakespeare's "King Lear"). Suddenly, the incident that will consume the rest of the movie: a phone call. Gondo's boy has been kidnapped, and the kidnapper wants 30 million yen in non-consecutive bills. This was back when the yen was worth something. And then, a brief comedic twist worthy of the Coens: someone else's boy has been kidnapped! Well, not exactly a random boy, of course. Gondo's chauffeur's boy was kidnapped by mistake, but the kidnapper still wants the money, or the kid gets it. This was back when kidnapping of a kid was taken more seriously. Maybe things have always been this way, at least for the rich. I hate to spoil the rest, but what follows is a rather taut police procedural, the kind of thing I like, even if I fall asleep briefly during it. I was able to get back up to speed, fortunately. There seem to be about 50 cops working on the case, but about 5 or 6 of them emerge as characters. It reminded me of The Day of The Jackal which I rewatched recently. While not as good as that film, High and Low holds its own rather well, and I see that the IMDb community think it's at least one of the 250 best films of the last 100 years or so, so that's something! Yeah, Kurosawa's got a lock on both ends of the top 250, his own personal high and low, if you will..................................

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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