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Wednesday, September 03, 2014

The Bad Sleep Well (1960) d. Akira Kurosawa

I'm not sure what could draw people to a review of middling Kurosawa picture, but a cute Japanses cos play girl seems like a safe bet.

Movie Review
The Bad Sleep Well (1960)
d. Akira Kurosawa
Criterion Collection #319

  I've got 29 posts under the Japanese Literature label.  24 of those are Criterion Collection titles, and two are posts about Japanese film but not movie reviews. Of the Criterion Collection titles, Kurosawa directed eight of them. Of those eight, the most relevant film for comparison is High and Low (1963), a more-or-less police procedural with noir-ish elements.  At two and a half hours, The Bad Sleep Well is more Shakespearean than Genre influenced in terms of pacing and plot.  The inter-generational conflict that extends to murder and certainly includes betrayal pays an obvious debt to the machinations in Hamlet.

  The violence of The Bad Sleep Well is as disturbing as anything else you are likely to see in Kurosawa's body of work. A young-ish Toshiro Mifune stars as the son of a man who killed himself to save his corporate employer a potential set back at the hands of the government.  Mifune, playing Koichi Nishi, is the bastard son of the dead executive.  He switches identities with a friend, manages to marry the crippled daughter of Vice President Iwabuchi, then sets about bringing various parties to justice. Again, the two hours plus run time limits any interest in this film to the margins of those who watch Kurosawa movies or older Japanese films. It's not one of the top 3 Kurosawa films to watch, and probably not in the top 5 either.  Top 10, sure.

 Compared to High and Low the plot moves at a somber pace, and the setting is not as interesting as the regional location in the other film.  Also, the Shakespearean influence inevitably drag down a film.  

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