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Archive for August 15th, 2021

by Sam Juliano

An International “Desert Island” Film project has been initiated on FB and so far, incredibly almost 50 people have handed in ballots.  The voting period ends on Monday night at 11:00 EST (the date of this MMD).  Should anyone care to participate please list your Top 15 Japanese favorites either in numerical order or alphabetically.
Here’s the scoop. This project will NOT appeal to everyone as it involves research, list-making and having to make painful decisions. Over the coming weeks/months I will ask film fans to list FIFTEEN (15) films from the country we are covering. To give you complete immunity from critiscism in the comment section I ask you to identify your FAVORITE fifteen films – the 15 you would bring to a desert island if you were stranded. Of course for ME “favorite” and “great” coincide.
Why 15? Because TEN (10) will leave us grieving over ommisions. 15 gives a bit of generous leeway. But even 15 is extremely difficult. You can make your list either alphabetically (as I will do) or if you prefer in order of preference. It works either way. What I will do is list my own 15 alphabetically and then identify my absolute favorite or as will be the case in the FIRST polling TODAY a tire for first. The first POLL will go up within a half hour, so I’ll keep you in suspense briefly as to what country is being posted as the maiden query. I am not expecting a big response for a number of reasons but for the comparatively few cineastes who are game it could be fun. The countries/regions we will cover are USA, France, Great Britain, Japan, Italy, Germany, Russia; Spain, Australia, Sweden, India, Cental and South America; Africa; Iran; Poland/Czechoslovakia and the rest of Eastern Europe; Canada, China/Hong Kong. I will save the USA for last.
Stay tuned for the first country or region within a half hour!
Again, I know the response will be limited, but I’m sure some will be intrigued. Thank you, and have a great day!
What are your favorite fifteen (15) films ever from Japan, the land of the Rising Sun?
Why Japan as your first country to consider? Two reasons. The Olympics are running in Tokyo and Japanese cinema was film master Allan Fish’s favorite nationalist cinema in the last years of his life. My own Top 15 is fraught with guilt, painful ommisions (Woman in the Dunes, The Twenty-Four Eyes; Seven Samaurai; and several films from Allan’s beloved Yoshida and Oshima, especially “Akitsu Springs” and “Boy”) not to mention Kore-Eda, “Grave of the Fireflies” and other Mizoguchis and Ozus and the realization Japan has many more masterpieces than I can shake a stick at, but here we go. The list is alphabetical, but my all-time Number 1 is a tie between Mizoguchi’s “Sansho Dayu, a.k.a. “Sansho the Bailiff” and Ozu’s “Tokyo Story.”:
The Burmese Harp (Ichikawa; 1956)
Floating Clouds (Naruse; 1955)
Harakiri (Kobayashi; 1962)
The Human Condition (Kobayashi; 1959-61)
Ikiru (Kurosawa; 1952)
Late Spring (Ozu; 1949)
Onibaba (Shindo; 1964)
The Outcast (Ichikawa; 1962)
Ran (Kurosawa; 1985)
Rashomon (Kurosawa; 1950)
Sansho the Bailiff a.ka. Sansho Dayu (Mizoguchi; 1954)
There Was a Father (Ozu; 1942)
Tokyo Story (Ozu; 1953)
Ugetsu (Mizoguchi; 1953)
You Were Like A Wild Chrysanthemum (Kinoshita; 1955)
THIS will help mightily in jogging memories!!!!

The Aretha Franklin biopic Respect is not in a league with the documentary Amazing Grace, released three years ago, mainly because it is replete with genre cliches and an oddly episodic structure, but there can be no denying that the cast, led by an electrifying Jennifer Hudson as the Queen of Soul gave impassioned performances, and the musical numbers, including the iconic titular song taken from Otis Redding were superbly choreographed. The film is also lesser than this year’s Summer of Soul doc, but overall it is a solid tribute and in tune with the Queen herself, who requested Hudson play her if the film materialized. Though expected, it was still a nice tough to see the clips of Franklin herself during the extended closing credit sequence. Forest Whitaker as the minister father was memorable. All in all a bit better than I expected it would be. Seen Saturday night in Teaneck.

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