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. -

July 25: On this day in 1834 Samuel Taylor Coleridge died of heart disease at the age of sixty-one.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

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Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Paradise and Elsewhere

Canadian short story marvel Kathy Page emerges as the Alice Munro of the supernatural from these heartfelt tales of shapeshifting swimmers, mild-mannered cannibals, and personality-shifting viruses transmitted through kisses.

Pastoral

When a persuasive pastor arrives in a sleepy farm town, his sage influence has otherworldly results (talking sheep, a mayor who walks on water). But can he pull off the miracle of finding kindly local Liz Denny the love of her life?  Small wonder looms large in this charmer from Andre Alexis.

The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).