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Sansho Dayu/Gion Bayashi [Masters of Cinema] [1953] [1954] [DVD]
Sansho Dayu/Gion Bayashi [Masters of Cinema] [1953] [1954] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Kinuyo Tanaka

27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life-changing experience, 7 Dec 2007
So...where are all the gushing reviews?

Sansho Dayu is easily one of the best films ever made, and we are incredibly lucky that it has finally been released by Masters of Cinema, the best producers of DVDs in this country (along with the BFI, perhaps). In some ways, this is an even better edition than the one Criterion released in America back in May.

You will never forget the first time you see this film; words can't begin to do justice to its visual beauty and its emotional impact. It stands comparison with the best films of Kurosawa and Ozu - with the best films of any director, come to that. Coupled with the almost equally marvellous (though smaller in scale) Gion Bayashi, this is a must-own DVD set for any self-respecting film buff. It is worth at least twice as much as Amazon are currently charging for it.

The Asphalt Jungle [1950] [DVD]
The Asphalt Jungle [1950] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Sterling Hayden
Price: £3.80

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best crime film ever, 24 Nov 2007
Claims that this film 'invented' the caper movie may seem excessive, since this wasn't the first time a heist had been depicted from the crooks' point of view. But what made The Asphalt Jungle so fresh was the sympathy and sensitivity with which it characterised its 'crooked' heroes.

One of the studio heads (Louis B. Mayer, I think) famously said he 'wouldn't cross the road to see that Asphalt Pavement thing' because it was about 'ugly people doing ugly things'. In fact, the criminals in John Huston's film are far less 'ugly' than the ones contemporary audiences were used to, and this may in fact have been what Mayer found so discomfiting about the experience.

As Louis Calhern's crooked banker says when trying to soothe his wife's fears about the criminals with whom he associates, 'they're not so different really - after all, crime is only a left-handed form of human endeavour'. The moment sums up the film's outlook, and Huston delights in juxtaposing the single-minded prejudice and condemnation of the 'good citizens' in the film with the essential decentness of his three-dimensional protagonists.

Huston is sometimes credited with making the first 'true' film noir, The Maltese Falcon. With The Asphalt Jungle, he gave the Noir genre more depth and sophistication and sheer human feeling than had even its greatest exponents (Wilder, Tourneur, Huston himself, etc) during the 1940s. And the impression stuck: The Killing and Rififi spring most readily to mind as direct imitations of The Asphalt Jungle.

This is as beautifully photographed, written, acted and directed a crime film as you will ever see, and why there aren't already a hundred gushing reviews for it on this page I really don't know. You need to see it.

Summertime aka Summer Madness [1955] [DVD]
Summertime aka Summer Madness [1955] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Katharine Hepburn
Price: £8.97

55 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Lean's best, 9 Aug 2007
David Lean was one of the greatest film-makers of all time, and to say that this is one of his best is to say that it stands comparison with Brief Encounter, Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, Lawrence of Arabia, Bridge on the River Kwai, Doctor Zhivago, Ryan's Daughter...etc...

It's one of his more low-key, intimate films, but there is a kind of epic grandeur in the way it captures Venice's beauty, investing the city with more magic and romance than it has had in any other film.

Katharine Hepburn gives the best performance of her career. At worst she could be monotonous, strident, harsh - but this is her at her best, funny, shy, even heart-breaking at times. So many directors lacked the imagination to find anything in her but the caricture Hepburn, the wilful, caustic persona that became over-familiar and wearisome. Here she gives an unusually layered and sensitive performance - at once an old-fashioned spinster and an excitable young girl finding love for the first time.

Why this film has never been released on any home video format in this country before (in the US, it was one of Criterion's earliest releases), is utterly baffling. No film buff will be disappointed. Forget any preconceptions about this being a frothy, rainy afternoon, throwaway romance. It's a bona fide masterpiece.
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The Lady Of Musashino [1951] [DVD]
The Lady Of Musashino [1951] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Masayuki Mori

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Low-key but beautiful Mizoguchi, 29 May 2007
Okay it doesn't have the spectacular, epic brilliance of this director's better known Jidai-Geki films, but this modest tale of self-sacrifice in post-war Japan is a masterpiece by anyone's standards, with a typically heart-breaking performance from Tanaka, and gorgeous cinematography. At this price, how can you resist?

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