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– by David Kozlowski

 

By David Kozlowski | 28 July 2017

Welcome to Issue #8 of The LRM WEEKEND, a weekly column offering opinions about film, TV, comics, Star Wars, Marvel, DC, animation, and anime. We also want to hear from you! Share your feedback and ideas for future columns: @LRM_Weekend

PREVIOUS ISSUES: 7.21.17 | 7.14.17 | 7.7.17 | 6.30.17 | 6.23.17

 

Hey LRM Weekenders, we survived San Diego Comic-Con 2017 — did you have a favorite moment? Thor: Ragnarok‘s latest trailer was a big hit at LRM (Hulk speaks!). As July comes to a close, we’re ramping up for the big movies and TV shows of the late summer through the holiday season.

This week our emphasis is on Akira Kurosawa, the legendary Japanese filmmaker who’s works have inspired generations of directors, screenwriters, and actors. Kurosawa’s films have been adpapted and remade dozens of times, and we hope that this week’s column gives you an idea of his importance to worldwide cinema. Have a great weekend everyone!!!

 

Each week we’ll highlight interesting, and offbeat, videos regarding some of our favorite LRM topics currently trending on YouTube, Vimeo, Twitch, and other popular video sites around the Internet.

Arrow Season 6 Comic-Con Trailer!

 

What Is It?

Arrow has finally completed its epic 5-season story. We now know how Oliver Queen/Green Arrow (Stephen Amell) spent his five years away from home (hint: not a lot of it was spent on that island). Season 6 opens on a cliffhanger — who lived and who died in the final battle with Prometheus will be revealed. Of greater importance, Slade Wilson/Deathstroke (Manu Bennett) returns as a major cast member, but it is unclear whether he’s back as Oliver’s old mentor, or if this is round two vs. his all-time toughest enemy. Arrow premieres October 12 at 9/8c on The CW.

Why Should We Care?

Lost in all of the other major news at Comic-Con last week was the big announcement of Arrow Season 6. The CW’s Arrow represented both a seminal and a watershed moment for superhero shows on TV. This series helped launched DC’s The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl, and Black Lightning. Since the launch of Arrow in 2012 dozens of new series based on DC, Marvel, and indie characters have debuted on network, cable, and streaming services.

The high point of Arrow, as a series, was arguably Season 2, which saw the arrival of Slade Wilson’s Deathstroke, a one-time mercenary and ally of Oliver Queen, who was injected with the lifesaving/mind-altering Mirakuru drug. Deathstroke was a dynamic and charismatic villain, who tested a not-yet-Green Arrow and pushed him to become a true hero and a leader. Deathstroke is back in Season 6, which also marks the end of Lian Yu flashbacks.

It seems like Arrow is ready for a return to basics with Deathstroke’s return. We’ve also learned that Richard Dragon is the next big bad, a tremendously violent martial artist with a specific code of justice all his own. We’re big fans of Arrow at LRM, and we’re excited to see where the series goes from here.

SOURCE:  The CW Television Network

 

Why do we love superheroes, martial arts, fantasy, and sci-fi? The big fight scenes, of course. Every week we’ll bring you an epic brawl from the recent or distant past — we want to hear from you, so share your favorite fights with us!

The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi (2003)

BONUS: Interview with Director Takeshi Kitano

The original Japanese movie poster from 2003!


What Is It?

Beat Takeshi Kitano directs and plays the title role in this tribute to the wildly popular “blind swordsman” of Japanese cinema who was the hero of more than 20 movies and a television series from the early ’60s to the late ’80s. In Kitano’s version, Zatôichi wanders into a town harassed by criminal gangs, and helps two geishas take revenge on the men who murdered their parents. His mission leads him to a final, bloody confrontation with the gang’s mastermind and his hired assassin (Tadanobu Asano), a swordsman with a reputation as lethal as Zatôichi.

Why Should We Care?

I’ve seen a LOT of samurai films, and without question Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman is one of the strangest, yet most engaging and beautiful genre films I’ve ever seen. This is a violent, bloody, and (at times) unrelentingly intense film, based on the long-running Japanese character by writer Kan Shimozawa. The character is essentially a harmless, blind wanderer, who survives by gambling, massage, acupuncture, and singing. More important, he is a master of kenjutsu and iaido — ancient Japanese swordmastery schools and arts.

In this film, Zatoichi seeks revenge against the Ginzo gangs, a group of traveling thugs who shake down small merchants and vulnerable working-class folks. One by one Zatoichi takes out his enemies, sometimes in groups of five or more. The film is also surprisingly funny and the cinematography is absolutely incredible. Of particular note is the music and sound, which employs drums and rhythm that highlights the action, and othwerise mesmerizing.

SOURCES:  Movieclips , Flicks And The City

Each week in The Creators we’ll showcase a legend or innovator from our favorite comics, movies, and shows via profiles, interviews, and documentaries that highlight these amazing individuals from any point in the last 100 years of pop culture.

Legendary Filmmaker: Akira Kurosawa

BONUS: 100th Anniversary Tribute

BONUS: Analysis of Kurosawa’s Rashomon

Seven Samurai (1954) is arguably one of the most remade and respected films ever.

 

Who Is Akira Kurosawa?

Akira Kurosawa (1910–1998) was a legendary Japanese film director and screenwriter. Regarded as one of the most important and influential filmmakers in the history of cinema, he directed 30 films in a career spanning 57 years. Many of his early films, which were made in the aftermath of WWII, have been remade dozens of times and have served as inspiration to almost every major filmmaker of the last 50 years, including George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Oliver Stone, Sergio Leone, and Robert Altman (to name just a few).

Why Should We Care?

Three paragraphs will not nearly suffice to express my admiration and respect for Akira Kurosawa. His films, on the surface, focused upon the ancient Japanese samurai culture, but his themes and messages went much, much deeper. One of Kurosawa’s earliest works, Rashomon (1950), is a brilliant examination (and meditation) on justice, memory, class/gender warfare via flashbacks and first-person accounts. Famed critic Roger Ebert said, “Rashomon struck the world of film like a thunderbolt.”

Kurosawa has inspired generations of filmmakers, and his works have been remade as Westerns, War movies, crime epics, and sci-fi thrillers. At the heart of every Kurosawa film is the struggle of men and women to survive in a world gone mad; he examined the working-class, women, and culture during a time of great change in Japan — and yet, his films endure because the messages within are so universal.

Looking purely at the action in his movies, few filmmakers can match his mastery of camerawork and staging. The action in a Kurosawa film is sudden, visceral, and shocking — some of the greatest scenes of combat ever captured on film. If you haven’t seen Rashomon, Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, Sanjuro, Throne of Blood, The Hidden Fortress, Kagemusha, or Ran… just stop what you’re doing and check out any of these amazing, haunting films.

SOURCES: Steve Jobs , anaheimu , Mr Nerdista

 

Each of us grew up watching a wide range of movies and TV shows from the 60s-90s that turned us into the fanboys and fangirls that we are today! Whether it’s Ultraman, Jackie Chan, Voltron, Akira Kurosawa, or Knight Rider (you know who you are!), we want you to hear about your favorite movie and TV trailers.

Sergio Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars (1964)

BONUS: Interview with Clint Eastwood on Spaghetti Westerns

One of the many theatrical posters for this great film!

 

What Is It?

Film: A Fistful of Dollars (1964)

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Gian Maria Volonte, Marianne Koch

Genre: Western

Synopsis: A wandering gunfighter plays two rival families against each other in a town torn apart by greed, pride, and revenge.

Why Should We Care?

If we’re going to talk about Kurosawa, then we have to examine some of the many, many adaptations and remakes of his works, in particular A Fistful of Dollars. In the early 1960s Clint Eastwood was just another TV actor grinding through genre material like Rawhide, Maverick, etc. Sergio Leone was a young, aspiring director with only a single film under his belt. Akira Kurosawa had just adapted a classic Dashiell Hammett novel, Red Harvest — a pulp era detective novel — into the samurai film, Yojimbo (1961). Leone decided to remake Kurosawa’s film as Per un pugno di dollari (or A Fistful of Dollars in the North America).

Leone, who had lost faith in American Westerns — Italian audiences found their conventions to be dated and stagnant — sought to combine the aesthetics and style of Italian films with the classic American Western. He sought a variety of actors to play “The Man With No Name,” including Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson, and James Coburn before settling on Clint Eastwood, a relative unkown at the time. The rest is epic movie history.

In this film, we are introduced to a violent, stark, and unforgiving landscape of bleak deserts and desperate remote villages. Eastwood’s character is a loner who sees opportunity between two warring clans. He sells his services as a gunman, and eventually becomes a sort of anti-hero, which was novel and unique for the time. A great, moody Western that should be at the top of everyone’s list.

SOURCES: taas007 , DVDc0llect0r

It’s the weekend, which means it’s finally time to catch-up on all the stuff we’ve bookmarked on Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Vimeo, Twitch… you get the idea. The LRM community has millions of hours of stuff on our collective DVRs. We want to hear from you; tell us the shows, movies, etc. you’ve recently finished, or have queued-up!

Bronson and Mifune in RED SUN (1971)

What Is It?

LRM fanboy, David Kozlowski, recommends watching Charles Bronson and Toshiro Mifune in Red Sun from 1971. A gang robs a train and steals a ceremonial Japanese sword meant as a gift from Japan to the U.S. President, prompting a man hunt to retrieve it.

Why Should We Care?

I’m a Charles Bronson junkie… but that’s a topic for another day. Here we have a pretty average Western that is elevated by the only combined screen appearance of Charles Bronson (Death Wish, The Magnificent Seven) and Toshiro Mifune (Rashomon, Seven Samurai). This isn’t the best work of either actor, but it’s a cool juxtaposition of ancient Japan with Old West. There are a few solid gunfights, but otherwise probably not the best Western you’ll ever see. Still, it’s cool to see these two legendary actors doing what they do best.

SOURCE: neondreams 25

Ridley Scott’s Masterpiece: BLADE RUNNER (1982)

BONUS: Blade Runner 30th Anniversary Trailer

What Is It?

This week LRM fanboy Joseph Jammer Medina digs deep into the film archives for the original Blade Runner (1982), starring Harrison Ford and directed by Ridley Scott.

Why Should We Care?

Well, Blade Runner 2049 comes out later this year with Ridley Scott in a producing role, and Arrival helmer Denis Villeneuve at the director’s chair, so there’s one reason. Another has to do with the iconic nature of the film itself. While the story itself is kind of bleh (at least to me), it really is an atmospheric joy. From the amazing set designs to visual effects that still hold up today, it’s a master class in setting up a tone and style. With its mix of synth and jazzy score, and sci-fi backdrop with a more typical detective story, it really created a new “future noir” genre that Hollywood has yet to exploit in a meaningful way.

You may not like the movie itself (it’s pacing is slow, especially by today’s standards), but if you love film, it’s hard not to appreciate the world it portrays, and the way it takes advantage of the medium.

SOURCES: Movieclips Trailer Vault , Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

GLOW (Netflix)

What Is It?

LRM fanboy Joseph Jammer Medina has completely lost himself in the Netflix original series GLOW. The show currently has 10 episodes and is all available on the streaming service right now.

Why Should We Care?

I’ll admit, I’m not a huge fan of wrestling. There were a couple years when I was a kid that I really latched onto it, but it wasn’t long. From an objective perspective, however, I understood its appeal — the over-the-top characters and the soap operatic storytelling. It’s fun to watch when you get into it, and GLOW — which follows the making of a female wrestling TV show — it captures it perfectly.

However, even if you’re not a fan of wrestling, and probably can’t understand its appeal, I’d also bet that you’d enjoy this. When all said and done, it’s structured like a sports anime. Yeah, I know, that’s a weird pull, but it’s true. It starts off at a very base level of understand for the audience, and acclimates them at a reasonable pace. By the time X thing happens, you know why you should care, and why it’s a big deal.

More than anything though, the characters are amazing. They’re flawed, they’re quirky, they’re crass, they’re lovable — they’re everything they need to be to make for an engaging TV show.

SOURCE: Netflix

What do you think about this week’s selection of LRM Weekend stories? Give us suggestions for future columns in the comments down below!

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David Kozlowski is a writer, podcaster, and visual artist. A U.S. Army veteran, David worked 20 years in the videogame industry and is a graduate of Arizona State University's Film and Media Studies.