The besties review
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Throne of Blood
Macbeth is definitely a lot more engaging to me as a samurai movie, but I still can’t say I was totally enthralled by this. The scenes in the forest were the best bits by far— I love a good ghost!
The Hidden Fortress
"Help me, Rokurota Makabe. You're my only hope."
I thought this was great! Mifune is awesome in the Obi-Wan role, but Minoru Chiaki and Kamatari Fujiwara were the standouts for me. I especially loved how the first 25 minutes of the movie were just C-3PO and R2-D2 rolling around the desert bickering and looking for gold. I mean, this goes without saying, but I thought this movie was genuinely funny and thrilling— not quite an "action comedy," but the tone fell somewhere between Shakespeare and Spielberg in the best possible way.
In terms of its influence on George Lucas— I feel like he pulled the right stuff into Star Wars to elevate the story with a new setting, but totally botched it when it came to The Phantom Menace... he even stole the wipes!!
I didn't expect this to have as much comedy as it did. Though I wasn't quite sure where it was going at first, once I understood the basic conceit (that Sanjuro was just going to play everything to his advantage and jump back and forth between the two bumbling gangs), the whole movie just sort of opened up. Adding A Fistful of Dollars to my watchlist now!
This one was even more light-hearted and frivolous than Yojimbo, but I think its simpler plot makes for a less exciting watch. Mainly, I was disappointed that Sanjuro did not seem as cunning or sharp in this film. Rather than jumping back and forth between rival gangs, deftly twisting situations to confuse and incite them, Sanjuro spends this whole movie with one group of idiot fighters who never seem to understand what's really happening. Sanjuro is still pulling the strings, but in a much less compelling way. Still, it's not a bad film by any stretch— just a bit of a let down after the richly drawn action and conflict of Yojimbo.
Ending slaps 1000% tho.
High and Low
Despite a nearly two and a half hour runtime, this movie just floats by. The tense, play-like drama that makes up the first half of the film is impossible to look away from, and the calculated police procedural that follows in the second half is equally compelling. This is far and away my favorite film from both Kurosawa and Mifune— a true masterwork.
What is 5 Film Film Festival (5FFF)?
In short, 5 Film Film Festival is an ongoing personal project to help me watch more classic films. For each mini “festival,” I will choose a random theme (be it a genre, actor, director, etc.) and curate five movies that fit that theme to watch for the first time. When I started this journey, I posted my brief, unpolished thoughts on Letterboxd. I like this more informal, less pretentious mode of watching older movies, so as I begin documenting the project here on the site, don’t expect a lot of in-depth analysis— every “review” will read more like a “first reaction.”
If you’re like me, and you have more than a few blind spots in your cinematic knowledge, then consider joining me on this lifelong endeavor. Watch along, recommend themes, and organize some mini festivals of your own!