samurai

Year in Review: Best Criterion

It seems like every year we have to begin this particular article with the disclaimer that we aren’t necessarily talking about the best releases Criterion put upon us this calendar year. If one made a list of top 10 home releases in a given year one could conceivably litter that list with nothing but Criterion releases, and still find themselves in the same predicament. Here, our approach to this article has, more often than not, been based on a wow factor in one of many different areas. Either a wow for the presentation of the release, a wow for the personal discovery of something previously unknown, a wow for the collective power of a set, or, occasionally the most fun, a wow for the “I can’t believe Criterion released that….I’m really happy Criterion decided to release that…but seriously can you believe they released that?” This year was no different in any of those respects for Criterion as they continue to put out some of the most impressive releases month in and month out with films that have been in dire need of the Criterion treatment for a long time (Purple Noon), notoriously maligned and controversial artworks that deserve a second chance (Heaven’s Gate), their continuous support for the unique voices of the next generation of filmmakers (Tiny Furniture) while trying to also include the early works of some of modern cinema’s most exciting visionaries (The Game, Being John Malkovich, Shallow Grave); which, on that note, brings us to our first […]

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I know…you read that title and the first thing that comes to mind is, “I don’t want to hear about a love story involving any kind of foreign robot/sharp object/power tool.” No worries, the first “word” of the title isn’t really a word from anywhere. It’s the name of the love interest of the film’s first story of three, and then concludes by revisiting the characters from that same first story thirty years later. None of the stories really intercede upon one another (especially not the film’s bookend story in relation to the middle two if not for the brief appearance of a cat) and in that sense Milocrorze: A Love Story may be one of the most uniquely structured and entertaining anthology pictures to come out in quite some time.

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Whether you’re trying to avoid the releases this week or augment them with even more movies, Your Alternate Box Office offers some options for movies that would play perfectly alongside of (or instead of) the stuff studios are shoving into the megaplex this weekend. This week features a group of fast-driving thieves, a few high school memories, and 13 sword-wielding badasses to chop all of that in half as gallons of the red stuff spray from every opening.

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The promise of 13 Assassins is a final act that showcases some of the best, most innovative, most brutal fighting that the screen has seen. Everything leads up to it – from the introduction of the 13, to the steel-headed conversations between former allies turned enemies, to the preparation of a small town that the assassin’s leader vows to turn into a killing field. Everything leads up to it, and it delivers. It delivers with such intensity that it’s hard to breath, that it’s difficult not to stand up and cheer, that a little bad CGI doesn’t ruin the ridiculous flaming weapon that the CGI is meant to create. Fortunately, the build up to the final act is beautiful in its own right. The whole experience is brilliant and deadly. In the waning days of the samurai, an evil lord rapes young women, kills on a whim, and plans on delivering war back to the peaceful nation. Since he’s the Shogun’s younger brother, he’s above the law. However, he’s not above being killed by a band of assassins hired by a senior government official to take out the lord and leave his head somewhere in the dirt of the Japanese countryside.

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For 36 days straight, we’ll be exploring the famous 36 Dramatic Situations by presenting a film that exemplifies each one. From family killing family to prisoners in need of asylum, we brush off the 19th century list in order to remember that it’s still incredibly relevant today. Whether you’re seeking a degree in Literature, love movies, or just love seeing things explode, our feature should have something for everyone. If it doesn’t, please don’t make us kill ourselves with a bamboo sword. Part 8 of the 36-part series takes a look at “Self-Sacrifice for Kin” with Masaki Kobayashi’s samurai masterpiece Harakiri.

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