Postwar Kurosawa

Experts consider Akira Kurosawa Japan?s most American director, the one most likely to use Hollywood techniques, Western source material, music, and dress -- and occasional indulge in quasi-Disney sentimentality. The films represented by Eclipse?s oddly skewed Postwar Kurosawa box seem determined to brand him a Western suck-up, as it includes ambitious failures like his 1951 adaptation of Dostoevsky?s The Idiot and the almost Capra-like tale of a young, middle-class couple trying to enjoy a day off in a city ravaged by war, One Wonderful Sunday. This cloying oddity does its best to look on the bright side of military occupation and nuclear annihilation (indirectly, of course), and at one point the heroine breaks the fourth wall to beg sympathy for the hero. The rather dated and lugubrious Scandal, the story of an incriminating photograph of a young singer and a handsome painter that seems mild by today?s standards, takes aim at the paparazzi and ends up hitting the painter?s sleazy lawyer, almost accidentally. Curiously absent from this cinematic quintet is the more successful (and more Japanese) classic Rashomon. Fortunately, the set includes 1946?s dazzling No Regrets for Our Youth, an epic that tracks the political awakening of a bourgeois wife, and the nuclear family drama I Live in Fear: both provide solid evidence of Kurosawa?s exalted place in world cinema. -

April 24: "[The HST] lifted a curtain from our view of the universe, changing it so profoundly that no human can look at the stars in the same way..."

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysley Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
In the Light of What We Know

Zia Haider Rahman's mystery of a brilliant Bangladeshi mathematician's past barrels through the Ivy League, London high finance, and spy-haunted Afghanistan in a page-turning tale of exile, intrigue and the price of friendship. A Discover Great New Writers selection.

The People's Platform

Once touted as the foundation for tomorrow's digital democracy, the Internet is increasingly ruled by a few corporate giants, while millions of contributors till its fields for free. Astra Taylor looks at why the web has failed to deliver a communitarian cyberscape, and offers a compelling case for restoring its original vision.

A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.