Thursday, March 17, 2011

Stray Dog

Akira Kurosawa, Japan, 1949, bw (9.0*)
One of famed director Akira Kurosawa's earliest films, about a rookie detective, played by Toshiro Mifune in one of his first starring roles, who has his gun stolen on a crowded bus. He then searches for his revolver relentlessly after it is used in the commission of a crime, as he then feels personally responsible for any victims of whoever is using his weapon. At the same time, he faces the dirision and ridicule of fellow detectives for having lost his gun to thieves on the street.

Beautifully shot in post-war Tokyo, much of in the dangerous black market streets and alleys. In fact, an assistant director stood in for Tishiro Mifune in some of the scenes shot in dangerous locales where guns were sold and criminals rule. Rarely shooting scenes straight on, most are shot from odd angles as if the viewer is spying, like crime witnesses, on the action from behind walls, doors, from earth level (sometimes you only see the feet of the detective), through windows, or rooftops. Kurosawa has put his own stamp on a tense thriller in the style of American film noir, and he actually caused a wave of Japanese police films following the success of this film.

A must-see classic for fans of Kurosawa and Japanese cinema; from the Criterion Collection. It may be argued that his early black-and-white period, which includes his masterpiece The Seven Samurai, was his most successful creatively - it's certainly my favorite era of his.


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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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