The Genius of Kiyoshi Kurosawa
By calanagear On 2 Jun, 2011 At 02:21 PM | Categorized As Reviews, Uncategorized | With 0 Comments

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The West is now well aware of how good Eastern cinema is, from high budget Kung Fu flicks to yakuza. Horror aficionados like myself are drinking up all the random dark flicks from directors like Hideo Nakata and the Pang brothers. One particular Japanese director caught my eye, and soon became my all time favorite director.

Born in 1955 in Kobe, Kurosawa started his love of film when watching the Godzilla movies, which were then all the rage. He grew tired of them and found a nearby theater that was showing Hammer films. ‘ These left a huge impression on me. Even now I still like these films.’ he tells Jerry White in an interview.

This is the trailer for Cure.

What intrigues me about Kurosawa’s later films is how he uses silence. In Cure and Charisma specifically, his scenes are enhanced with an eerie feel due to their lacking any soundtrack. Instead the focus is on the movement of his actors, as well as their positioning.

‘ When I think of framing, it’s a question of where to put the actors on the screen. I try to put them in a place that actors

don’t usually stand. It might be in a corner, or a place where the light doesn’t reach or is obscured by shadows.’

Pulse (original) Trailer

When he applies his technique to Koji Yakusho, an actor he frequently casts, magic happens. Yakusho has the ability to be subtle and yet intense in his portrayal of characters going against the supernatural and macabre. Pulse’s Haruhiko Kato delivers a stellar performance under superb direction as a University student investigating mysterious suicides. Kurosawa explains in the DVD commentary how important it is for him to let the audience feel that there is  real life going on when the actors walk out of the camera’s view, which gives his films a feeling of being atmospheric and yet very real. They haunt you and linger in your mind.

This is the trailer for Tokyo Sonata

I haven’t had the chance to watch Tokyo Sonata, Kurosawa’s latest work. But I can’t wait. The trailer reminds me (for some reason) of Charisma, which again starred Yakusho as a cop. Charisma was a very unique film. To some it may seem boring, as it deals with a detective who teams up to protect a tree in the forest. In my opinion, it is a complex character portrayal of a broken man trying to find his place in the world, who wants to do the right thing but doesn’t know how. Sonata on the other hand deals with the secrets and complexities in a Japanese family’s life, touching on the issue of how important employment is in Japanese society, not just because of income but because of cultural memes.

Kurosawa, as well as many other well know Japanese and Korean directors, seems to like making his audience ponder social memes. Bright Future takes a look at the lives of two young men, pondering their future and dealing with their pent up emotions. Our former Japanese exchange student watched it at our house and told us it really made her think about her life, as well as Japan in general.

Bright Future trailer

If you haven’t seen any of Kurosawa’s films, start with Pulse and Cure, or begin with his earlier works. He has incredible range as to what genres he does. Just don’t watch the Pulse remake. Please.

About - Wife, mom...gamer and writer. I have a myriad of addictions, to odd and obscure things I feel entertain and inspire me. Some of them happen to be games, others include vintage kids toys, old school TV shows, and books. I love Asian horror as well, which is what brought me to Asia in the first place...

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