Tuesday, January 30, 2007

I drive past the Aero Theatre (run by the American Cinematheque) on my way to work several times a week, as I have for the past 6 months, and every time I do I glance to see what is showing that week. Last week as I drove by I noticed that the Aero was having an Akira Kurosawa Tribute, so once I got to work I checked online and found what would be playing. I had never seen any of Kurosawa’s movies, but I had always heard they were amazing and that the Seven Samurai in particular was a masterpiece. So when I saw that Seven Samurai was showing later that week I decided to go. I tried to find someone to go with me, but although at least 6 different people wanted to go with me, none of them could make it.

And so on Sunday evening I found myself, alone, taking the small trek down the coast to Santa Monica to see a film that constantly makes it into the top of the various “Best Movies of All Time” Lists. I arrived at the Aero about 2 hours before the movie started because their internet was down and it was the only way to buy tickets, and then wasted the time until I was ready to go sit down.

I sat down in an aisle seat, as I normally do, so I can stretch out into the aisle and prepared for the 207 minutes of subtitled joy I was sure to enjoy. I honestly had no idea what to expect. As I said I had never seen a Kurosawa film before, so all I knew was that it had to do with Samurai, was filmed entirely in Japanese, and was 207 minutes long. Seriously that’s all I knew, I hadn’t seen any trailers, I hadn’t read any reviews, I was going in completely blind. And I was pleasantly surprised.

I knew I’d be seeing a good movie, but nothing could have prepared me for the amazing film that I saw. The music was enchanting, (it’s at the top of my list to download to listen do while studying for finals) the cinematography was beautiful, and the acting was top notch.

Probably the biggest surprise to me was how humorous the film was. I was expecting more of a drama with some action, but the movie was full of laughs. I guess when I go into see what some term as “Epics” I just don’t think of them as being humorous and it’s always a pleasant surprise.

For those who don’t know Seven Samurai is the story of a small village of peasants who are being pillaged by bandits over and over again. Several of the Peasants travel into town seeking out several samurai who will protect them from the bandits, but they can only pay with food. The peasants eventually find a Samurai willing to protect them. He determines it will take at least 7 Samurai to defend the village and sets out to find 6 more Samurai to join his cause.

The second half of the movie focuses on the Samurai preparing the village for battle with the bandits and the actual battle. But in this second half there is also a love story we’ve seen many times before, two people of different classes who fall in love even though they know they can never be together. Although we’ve all seen it before it still brings a tenderness to the movie that may have otherwise been missing.

This movie really does have it all, humor, action, a love story, and anything else you could possibly want in an Epic movie. Another example of how great the “Classics” of yesteryear truly were. If you enjoy movies, and you haven’t seen this film, you really should do yourself a favor and see this movie. If you can see it on the big screen you should, but if not at least rent it on dvd and enjoy it at home.

Coming This Week:

The Messengers

Kristen Stewart (Zathura, The upcoming In The Land of Women) stars as a teenage girl whose family moves into a rundown sun flower far in the country. Her little brother begins to see strange things and she begins to notice an unsettling change in her father (Dylan McDermott). Directed by brothers Danny & Oxide Pang and produced by Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert under their Ghost House label, this movie looks like another in the line of Asian Horror being remade in America, but this is an original tale. The Pang brothers have directed several horror movies in their home country, including The Eye (Which is currently being remade here with Jessica Alba) and promise to bring more of the same in this movie.

Also Starring: Penelope Ann Miller and John Corbett

Rated: PG-13 for mature thematic material, disturbing violence and terror.


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