THRONE OF BLOOD – The Power of Influence

By William Benker

Throne of Blood – 1957 – dir. Akira Kurosawa

The power of prophecy and influence drives Akira Kurosawa’s revitalized Macbeth in Throne of Blood.  In the midst of feudal Japan, Washizu (played by Kurosawa regular, Toshiro Mifune) bears witness to the complete corruption and dissection of himself by his own hand.  Kurosawa’s grim look at the sheer power of outside influence strikes at the heart of Throne of Blood, truly expressing what is sacrificed when one loses himself in another’s foreboding.  The intricate maze of self-deception, paranoia and selfishness leaves little to wonder at beside the rigid forest that guards Spider Web Castle.

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CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON

By Jared M. Gordon

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon – 2000 – dir. Ang Lee

“When in comes to the affairs of the heart, even the greatest warriors can be consummate idiots.”

Ang Lee’s homage to Du Lu Wang’s kung-fu novel, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, I must confess, did not make an instant impression upon me the first time that I saw it.  The film soars with Lee’s breathtaking direction and cinematography by Academy award-winner Peter Pau, but I found the story meandering and simple.

Of course, I missed the point, discovered only after a re-watch.  The story is indeed simple.  It is the characters who are complex.  This is an ironic movie about opposites: finding through loss.  Gaining through sacrifice.  Joy through despair.  Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is a simple story about masculinity, femininity, and life.
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Jesus Christ’s Lust for Glory: MONTY PYTHON’S LIFE OF BRIAN

By Jared M. Gordon 

Monty Python’s Life of Brian – 1979 –  dir. Terry Jones

In a motion picture “destined to offend nearly two thirds of the civilized world and severely annoy the other third,” you know to expect the Pythons on top of their game.  Life of Brian, being the British comedy team’s farcical view of first-century Judea, parallels the life of Brian Cohen, born in the manger next door to Jesus.  Mistaken for the messiah his entire life, Brian’s trials turn a camera squarely onto the audience, examining our hero worship and dogmatic obsessions, challenging us to laugh at crucifixion.  And do we ever.
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CASABLANCA: Valentine’s Day in Morocco

By Jared M. Gordon

Casablanca -1942 – dir. Michael Curtiz

Enough of whether Valentine’s Day was invented by greeting card companies, created in St. Valentine’s dark laboratory of evil science, or if “Valentine’s Day should be every day” in a healthy relationship.  You love the candy, so what does it matter?

Valentine’s Day should be an excuse (for those of us who need an excuse) to be just a little bit nicer to those for whom we care.  It should be a day of reaching out, of reforging connections, and of gratitude to those with whom we share compassion.  What a nice day!

So why celebrate it by watching Casablanca – a film, by most definitions, about love lost?

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