Poor villagers recruit a septet of warriors to protect them from bandits.
Directed by Akira Kurosawa
Starring Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura, and Isao Kimura
Review by Jon Kissel
The term ‘influential’ is a complicated one in film history. It implies some kind of groundbreaking idea or technique that no one had thought of before and future filmmakers adopted, but there’s a difference between first and widest-reaching. There were zombie movies before Night of the Living Dead, and there were McGuffin movies before Raiders of the Lost Ark. Movies that are supposedly influential, too, have the disadvantage of being the original, such that dozens of directors get to take a crack at them before a viewer goes back and sees the original. Going into Seven Samurai for the first time, I’d seen plenty of Japanese period films, Westerns, war films, and teams being assembled. I also knew of Seven Samurai’s reputation as one of the most critically acclaimed films ever made, currently standing at #17 on the Sight and Sound Top 250 list of lists. That’s a lot of baggage to put on its hefty 207 minute runtime, but this is still a classic worthy of imitation. Strip all the expectations away, and it’s just as entertaining and resonant as it was when it was released sixty-six years ago.
As DJ Shadow's "Nobody Speak" booms through the speakers, one of the numerous badass, bass-heavy hip-hop songs cycling through as a pseudo score for the film, the feeling of kicking down a door and making a grand entrance to a party emerges in Olivia Wilde's Booksmart. The film follows the one night journey of Molly (Beanie Feldstein) and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever), the epitome of BFFs, as they look to fulfill their final chance at adolescent partying. The premise is nothing new, but the audacious character work and superb mix of comedy with earnest teenage friendship is something that should turn heads. Living with the predetermined moniker of being a female Superbad lessens the movie's innovation from its teen comedy predecessor, but also should provide an accurate seal of approval for the level of humor and impact of the film.
Childhood friends turned filmmakers Jimmie Fails and Joe Talbot pour their heart and soul into their debut feature, The Last Black Man in San Francisco. Both natives of the titular city by the bay, Talbot directs and Fails stars in this autobiographical story of gentrification and mythmaking. The former unites the film with similarly themed and located 2018 entries like Sorry to Bother You and Blindspotting, but it’s the latter that infuses Last Black Man with a bittersweet romanticism and separates it from the anger of those other films. This is a lament instead of a screed, and it effectively communicates what’s at stake and what’s being lost.
JUST SOME IDIOTS GIVING SURPRISINGLY AVERAGE MOVIE REVIEWS.
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