November 9, 2004

Pick of the Week: Zatoichi

This week was actually pretty tough, there is a nice boxset of classic comedies, a few independents worth noting, and a whole bunch of good foreign films to choose from. Sometimes, I wish I would allow myself to choose a few picks, but that would be cheating. So, I have decided to go with an excellent drama/action/comedy film from Japan. The winner is Zatoichi.

I imported this film months ago when it first became available in Hong Kong. I realized I probably wouldn't get a chance to see it in a theater, and I wanted to see it as soon as I could. I have very little familiarity with the character, who has been the subject of nearly 30 films over the past 40 years. This one was written and directed by, not to mention stars, Japanese legend "Beat" Takeshi Kitano. The film is full of wit and drama and has some great sword fighting scenes. To get an idea of what it is about, Ichi is a masseuse, who happens to be blind, travels the countryside taking jobs, and usually becomes entangled in some local issues. On top of being blind, he is also a maser swordsman. This movie is a blast and I highly recommend it to anyone who may even be vaguely interested. As an added bonus, it also comes with another Kitano film, Sonatine. I have not seen that movie, but have heard good things about it. I posted a review of my copy of Zatoichi way back in May, you can see that review: here.

Here are other titles to look into:
  • Ju-On (The Grudge). The original Japanese chiller comes to our shores, I have been looking forward to this for awhile.
  • The Princess Blade: Special Edition. A very good action film, now available with, what I have heard is, a better transfer.
  • Jesus of Montreal. A very good film chronicling a Jesus like character putting together a version of the Passion Play. I am a bit concerned over the full screen, I don't know what OAR is for this.
  • The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection. Five of their films including one of the funniest films of all time: Duck Soup.
  • Martin. George Romero's take on the vampire story, another film I've been wanting to see.
  • Bridget Jones' Diary: Collector's Edition. I surprisingly liked this when I saw it in the theater.
  • The Stepford Wives. A comically dramatic retelling of this cautionary tale.
  • Harvie Krumpet. The animated short that was an Oscar nominee last year. Funny, insightful claymation.
  • Before Sunset. A sequel to After Sunrise reunites Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy.
  • The Clearing. A good movie where the acting is much better than the story they are telling.


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