• Congratulations to yesterday’s winners, Matt V and Kyle! Matt V’s Kurosawa-related anagram was:

    Kagemusha = A Huge Mask

    Kyle’s was:

    Rashomon = Sham, or no?

    March is Akira Kurosawa month at Criterion. On the twenty-third, the great Japanese filmmaker would have been one hundred years old. For this centennial celebration, we will be posting trivia questions and other contests all month, and giving away a different prize every weekday.

    Today’s prompt:

    Among filmmakers working today, who can best be described as the heir to Kurosawa’s legacy, and why?

    Please respond to this prompt by commenting below, and we’ll choose our favorite tomorrow. You must leave a valid e-mail address to be eligible for the prize (High and Low on DVD).

10 comments

  • By JediFonger
    March 10, 2010
    05:00 PM

    honestly? can't think of anyone. none of the directors above take mis en scene as seriously as Kurosawa.
    Reply
  • By Charles
    March 10, 2010
    05:05 PM

    In my opinion, I would have to say Steven Soderbergh. Looking at both Kurosawa's and Soderbergh's body of work, I can't help but see how similarly they overlap. Both Kurosawa and Soderbergh's use of elliptical storytelling have become practical boilerplates for style and form with Rashomon and The Limey, (and to a lesser extent soderbergh's out of sight and his HD films.) Kurosawa and Soderbergh have played in many genres and ever film showed a measured confidence as well as playfulness with the genre constructs. I also think that Steven Soderbergh, even when playing in lesser substantive genres and films (oceans, etc) he still manages to infuse a core of humanity within his characters and is always curious about them. His passion and love for his characters show in every slightly lilting camera frame. Soderbergh is, has always been, concerned with finding the core of his characters and thier motivations. And I think Kurosawa did too.
    Reply
  • By Benjamin B.
    March 10, 2010
    05:28 PM

    I am goinmg to have to go with Steven Spielberg. Cause Spielberg's doesn't stay in one genre. Or how about Kathryn Bigelow. Cause like Kurosawa, she began her career as a painter.
    Reply
  • By Benjamin B.
    March 10, 2010
    05:29 PM

    Damn you Blake K
    Reply
  • By Billy R.
    March 10, 2010
    05:38 PM

    Quentin Tarantino. The name first came to me because their music choices are identical (I watched Yojimbo yesterday and realized his theme would be right at home in one of the Kill Bills). But the more I think about it, the more it fits. First, there's the obvious fact that Tarantino loves to do throwback tributes, not the least of which were the Kill Bill movies, love-letters to the samurai films of the 50's and 60's. But what's more, as Tarantino has come into his own, and his pulpy ultra-violent entertaining romps have developed into more well-rounded excellent movies, the thematic range he is able to cover is approaching that of Kurosawa. Take Inglourious Basterds. He's able to combine period war epic, hilarious dialogue, intensely personal moral quests, and beautifully tragic romance, all with his trademark style. Is this really so far from Seven Samurai? Are the Kill Bill movies really that far off from the Yojimbo movies? Sure, the plots are completely different, but they both are still hilarious adventures about a lone swordsman overcoming tremendous odds, with surprising bits of brilliant emotionality thrown in when you least expect it. Tarantino. The next Kurosawa. And, they both have awesome names!
    Reply
  • By zacheney
    March 10, 2010
    05:57 PM

    While many are bound to point out the superficial differences between him and Kurosawa, I believe Wes Anderson is the closest match. Both directors can safely be described as "humanists," in the sense that both directors made films centered on quintessentially human dilemmas. In the oeuvres of each director, that human dilemma can often be boiled down to the need for human community. Anderson's films are obvious in this regard. In Kurosawa's films, consider Mifune's character in Seven Samurai, the child in Rashomon, the string of relationships in Red Beard, the slum in Dodes'ka-den, and the family units in numerous films like High & Low and Rhapsody in August. Both directors also co-wrote/co-write the majority of their films. Both are deemed perfectionists to the highest degree. Both make use of the most detailed mis-en-scene available to them. Both bodies of work are filled with the significance, power, and even beauty of death. The death scenes in Seven Samurai, The Lower Depths, Ikiru, Red Beard, and Dersu Uzala feel like source material for deaths and allusions to late loved ones in Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic, and The Darjeeling Limited. Both directors employ slow motion and a heightened or absent musical soundtrack at moments of key narrative importance often revolving around death. Both directors explore the nature of the "double," how important characteristics and connections are shared between two characters who seem otherwise completely different. The finale of the chase scene near the end of Stray Dog even features an overhead shot of the cop and the criminal exactly like the end of the chase scene in The Royal Tenenbaums of Chas and Eli. In each case, these figures spent much of the story at odds with one another either actively or passively. Both filmmakers employ lengthy takes and tracking shots, and both use(d) telephoto lenses to great effect. This flattening of the cinematic image creates a highly two-dimensional look reminiscent of a painting. It's been pointed out that Kurosawa was a painter prior to directing. While that can't be said of Anderson, his shots arguably look even more "painting-like" than Kurosawa's. No director can be said to follow exactly in Kurosawa's footsteps, and if s/he did, Kurosawa himself would likely chide the filmmaker for a lack of originality. Wes Anderson embodies the thematic concerns and many of the stylistic techniques that Kurosawa held dear without falling prey to imitation.
    Reply
  • By Robert W.
    March 10, 2010
    06:03 PM

    Zhang Yimou would be my pick for Kurosawa's heir. Like Kurosawa, he's an influential filmmaker who has managed to make many films in different genres (wuxia, period pieces, modern dramas, gangster films, seriocomic dramas etc.) that have done well outside his homeland. Zhang Yimou has also repeatedly used actresses Gong Li and Zhang Ziyi, much like Kurosawa, who enjoyed working with the same group of actors: Takashi Shimura, Tatsuya Nakadai, and Toshirō Mifune. Zhang's works are noted for their use of color, as Kurosawa's films are known for their use of sound. Also both utilize recurring themes through out their filmographies. Both directors have created many, memorable films that examine and celebrate the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity.
    Reply
  • By Karen M.
    March 10, 2010
    08:08 PM

    Though I can truly think of no one who could live up to the title of heir to the great Kurosawa, Hong Kong master Wong Kar-Wai is one who comes to mind because he creates moving, emotional films with a distint and instantly recognizable style, just as Kurosawa did. Also, Kar-Wai has done for Hong Kong cinema what Kurosawa did for Japanese cinema, bringing it to the international stage like never before. In addition, both Kurosawa and Kar-Wai have created not only one, but MULTIPLE film masterpieces, and have one time or another been considered at the forefront of Asian cinema. While many directors could, in one way or another, be considered successors to Kurosawa because of his indelible impact on the world of filmmaking, one that undoubtedly comes to mind is the auteur behind such modern classics as "Chungking Express" and "In the Mood for Love".
    Reply
  • By Chris
    March 10, 2010
    11:43 PM

    Let's draw some parallels... The next Jimi Hendrix? Beatles? Stanley Kubrick? Alfred Hitchcock? Of the greatest artists of that question always seems to be asked, yet the answer remains the same. No one. Whomever is named in this thread as an heir by thematic, technical, or narrative comparison is simply someone who has borrowed elements of Kurosawa's filmmaking and deserves no such title. One who is named due to their ability to create film to a degree so powerful and unique as Kurosawa would deserve to have the same question asked of themselves. Such an artist would be worthy enough not stand in the shadow of another. To say that Kurasawa has an heir is to diminish and belittle his artistry. He deserves more respect than that from us, his fans.
    Reply
  • By tenderfoot
    March 11, 2010
    01:08 PM

    Just about everyone, no one can avoid being directly influenced, or at least secondarily influenced by techniques or style of storytelling used by Kurosawa. Take for instance multiple cameras capturing one scene. And what action movie doesn’t have slow-motion shots interspersed with real time shots, inspired by ‘Seven Samurai’. Almost becoming cliché now, modern moves tend to have extreme weather as a reflection of the emotions on screen, think ‘Shawshank Redemption’, or any romantic movie. Now, needless to say no one has ever matched the master, but everyone has taken a jab at it. Endless is the credit modern film owes to the ‘sensei’ Akira Kurosawa.
    Reply