The other night I watched Akira Kurosawa's THE BAD SLEEP WELL and it was terrific! It is a fairly epic tale with Shakespearean familial conflicts combined with post-war corporate corruption and staged within a framework of film noir. So, very interesting! The story follows a young man (Toshiro Mifune) who is avenging his father who was either murdered or compelled to commit suicide by his employers amid some intense multi-billion yen construction corruption. At about 150 minutes it is not a fast paced film, but it is intricately planned and directed by Kurosawa, an absolute master of Japanese cinema. You might recognize the name Toshiro Mifune, as he and Kurosawa had worked together a number of times through the 50s and 60s. I remember Mifune most from Kurosawa's samurai epics SANJURO, YOJIMBO, THE SEVEN SAMURAI, and RASHOMON where he often plays a grizzled ronin, a masterless samurai, who wanders feudal-Japan as a sword for hire. He's often bearded and has long hair in a top-knot, so it was quite a change to see him in Clark Kent-mode in THE BAD SLEEP WELL where he dons a suit, glasses, and nicely combed hair. Anyways, Mifune is fantastic in this. It is not a film for all, but if you are interested in Mifune or Kurosawa, this is a wonderful example of their synergy. Mifune's characterization is so enjoyable to watch as he grapples with his own anger. Kurosawa, meanwhile, carefully composes his shots in his great tableau style and keeps the ranging storyline moving by infusing lots of noir stylings. If any of this interests you, you should check it out! Criterion has an excellent DVD out with a great crisp black and white video transfer. It looks great.

Mifune in SANJURO:

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