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Features Four Frames

Becoming Akira Kurosawa: Sanshiro Sugata

In an interview conducted by Bert Cardullo, Akira Kurosawa once stated that with Drunken Angel (Yoidore tenshi, 1948), “(…) I finally discovered myself. It was my picture. I was doing it and no one else.” Drunken Angel was shot five years after Kurosawa’s directorial debut Sanshiro Sugata (Sugata Sanshirō) and three years after Japan’s surrender […]

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Features Four Frames

A journey into silence in François Rotger’s The Passenger

Following the young yakuza Kohji (Yusuke Iseya) from Japan to Canada, the action of François Rotger’s The Passenger (2005) takes place on two continents. Kohji, who has fallen out of favour with his mentor Naoki Sando (Yosuke Natsuki) because the latter surprised him in bed with his daughter Hiroko (Kumi Kaneko), is given a chance […]

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Four Frames: Mandy (Panos Cosmatos, 2018)

There are those convinced George Lucas only ever dreamed up Star Wars so he could sell spin-off toys to kids. And now, nine episodes in (is it nine? you tell me!), movie merchandise helps keep the commercial world a-spinning. Merch can be cool, though – the more unlikely it is, the more “cultish”, the cooler […]

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Features Four Frames

Four Frames: The Park family in Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite

The impoverished Kim family – father Ki-taek (Song Kang-ho), mother Chung-sook (Jang Hye-jin), daughter Ki-jung (Park So-dam) and son Ki-woo (Choi Woo-shik) – infiltrate one by one the household of the wealthy Parks. The Parks – father Dong-ik (Lee Sun-kyun), mother Yeon-gyo (Cho Yeo-jeong), daughter Da-hye (Jung  Ji-so) and son Da-song (Jung Hyeon-jun) – are […]

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Rebirth and reconciliation in Kon Ichikawa’s The Burmese Harp

After the capitulation of the Empire of Japan on 15 August 1945, Private Mizushima (Shoji Yasui) does not join the rest of his former unit in a British prisoner-of-war-camp in the Burmese countryside but becomes a Buddhist monk. The story of the young soldier who decides to stay in Burma after the war in order […]

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Features Four Frames

Four Frames: Deliverance (John Boorman, 1972)

James Dickey’s novel opens with a map being unrolled. Disconcerting – “curling and snapping back whenever one of us turned it loose” – then, revealing – “All this in here will be blue … this whole valley will be under water.” John (Point Blank) Boorman’s movie version unveils the river itself through a curtain of […]

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Journey Into the Human Heart: Takeshi Kitano’s Kikujiro

Kikujiro (Kikujiro no natsu, Japan, 1999) is a film about a boy – 9-year-old Masao (Yusuke Sekiguchi) – who leaves Tokyo in the summer holidays to go in search of his mother, who abandoned him years ago. Kikujiro (Takeshi Kitano), the husband of one of his grandmother’s friends, agrees to accompany him on the journey […]

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Features Four Frames

Four Frames: Illuminating the Unexpected in The Half of It

In the plethora of coming-of-age movies that dominate the pop culture scene, teenagers are portrayed as glamorous and composed mini-adults. From as far back as High School Musical (2006) to as recent as To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018), teen romance often is depicted as shallow and picture-perfect, which is fine for audiences seeking a […]

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Sacrifice and Responsibility in Akira Kurosawa’s High and Low

In Akira Kurosawa’s High and Low (Tengoku to jigoku, Japan, 1963), a bungled kidnapping leads to the protagonist’s deep crisis of conscience. Wealthy Kingo Gondo (Toshiro Mifune) has to decide whether or not to pay the ransom demanded by a kidnapper who intended to abduct Gondo’s son but has taken his chauffeur’s son by mistake. […]